You ask, “What do people think of me?”
I say, They are not thinking about you.
They are thinking about what you might be thinking about them.
At the end of the day, the only opinion of you which really matters is your own. Sure, you’ve heard that before. Yaaawwwwwn.
Let’s talk about Freedom
As children, we freely explore our surroundings and our own potential. We forge our way through a chaotic and unknown world by conducting experiments. We are not embarrassed to question, and we are not remotely afraid of failing. We experiment without any preconception of what is considered acceptable or not.
And External constraints
But we lose this freedom to the rigidity of our society. The world loses its magic as it gains names and functions.
“That’s a screwdriver Janine. And it’s for fixing things, not for brushing your teeth!”
“Lucas, there’s no such thing as a magic carpet! Now will you put the bath-mat back where it belongs?!”
Because External constraints become our internal, Self-imposed constraints
While we are being taught how to engage appropriately with the world around us, we are also being taught to judge ourselves harshly, and to curb any impulse for play or questioning. But play and questioning are fundamental to our identities.
Theatre practitioner Jerzy Grotowski theorised that our most profound emotional experiences occur when we are very young, and we experience these emotions with our whole body. But, as we our bodies become socialised (“Don’t slouch, Fran!” “Stop walking like an ostrich, Daniel – you are a human, not a bird.” “Close your legs when you sit, Lisa.”) these emotional experiences become trapped in our bodies. As we lose the fluid physical expression of our childhood, we lose our raw and honest experience of the world. Essentially, “growing up” makes us lose our capacity to feel. As we lose the honest experimentation of our youth, we lose our ability to act without judging our actions. But we externalise this judgment until we think it comes from others, when in fact it is our own, learned, judgment.
As actors, our job is to unlock those emotions by rediscovering the physical freedom we experienced as children. Once we have done this, we are able to present these clarified emotions to an audience, and they recognise a long-lost, feeling self in our art.
And through this process, we can rediscover and take ownership of our true selves, and we learn to remove the hard mask we have learned to wear as protection against self judgments
I think you understand me now. This is not a journey only for actors who seek to be better actors. It is a journey for humans who want to remember their humanness, and cut themselves a bit of slack.