Last night (post Halloween party) I had a God-awful dream. In the dream I was in rehearsal and I couldn’t feel anything. I couldn’t feel anything because I was taking anti-depressants that rendered me barren of emotion and therefore absolutely crap at acting. Like really, really crap, just saying the lines.
The thing is, recently I’ve been a bit sad. About lots of things really, some of which are my of own orchestration, others which are not, combined with just generally not feeling that happy for no apparent reason. When you feel a bit sad, quite a lot for an extended period of time you begin to wonder if you are depressed.
A lot of my friends are depressed and because of that they take anti-depressants. They all seem to be functioning excellently on them, but it is quite interesting as even though they are taking various medications they still refer to themselves as ‘depressed’. Odd. Surely they are no longer depressed because that is what the medication deals with? A bit like the people on Statin’s that have 'High Cholesterol’ when the pills have actually (inadvisedly) lowered it to that of a 4 year-old. So if they are still depressed, what is the point of taking them?
I think the reason I dreamt about not feeling anything and therefore not being able to act sums up something I’ve been wondering about in conjunction with my recent feeling 'a bit sad’. I feel things very acutely and find it very difficult to hide what it is I am feeling. From irritation at dealing with my fifteenth time-wasting customer of the day (which is why my buisiness does much better with me in the office rather than on the shop floor!) to the despair I feel at a rejected invitation, I just can’t fake it. 'Ridiculous’ people say, 'You’re an actress; act’. But I can’t. Not in real-life and actually not on stage either. You see I think the acuteness of my feelings (which can extend to elation, by the way, not just misery) and my inability to mask them is actually what makes me a good actress and is what good acting is actually about.
Last night’s dream sort of clarified that for me. If I am to act then I need to feel these things in my life, so this period of feeling 'a bit sad’ mightn’t be all that bad. If I want to portray as many different women as possible, surely I need a reference to feel it. Not only that, muting my feelings whether it be by changing my behaviour or medicating myself probably won’t work-out that well for me either on or off stage.
So here’s the plan: for the next 4 months while I tackle playing these three challenging women, who really require and deserve my full-range of emotions I am not going to censor, limit or hide my feelings whether they are 'positive’ or 'negative’ without apology. I hope that it means that I will be able to draw my real-life feelings on stage and that in rehearsals I will allow myself to be open and ready to be effected by the thoughts of both the character I am playing and the people playing opposite me. I am sure that at times I’ll appear a little crazy and needless to say, very un-British. I am also sure that anyone who already knows me questions that I currently censor myself at all and as already discussed, I don’t much. But I do apologise for it, get embarrassed or feel shame; no more.
Just by making that promise to myself I already feel a little bit less sad.