Yes, Its true, you’re now reading a blog written by the next Eliza Schuyler, at least thats who I am on Monday’s. Tuesday’s I’ll be Christine, Wednesdays I’ll be Elphaba (since wicked Wednesday is a thing in my world) … am I like this because I’m a super fan who just loves a one woman show when I’m driving around in my car, or when I’m singing at the top of my lungs when I’m making food? Or am I this way because I’m crazy … well, that was a big jump right there, but no i’ll be honest, I’m this way because I just love being someone else, anyone who isn’t me, make me that person.
No, Alas, I am not going to be in Hamilton (maybe one day that dream will come true, but not for now)… but now I have your attention I want to discuss something close to my heart. Mental Health. Specifically, mental health within the arts an within this industry.
Stigma, is a big thing that can destroy a person.
Now confidence is a funny thing, I have none and yet I’m still an actor. I may be able to go out and step onto a stage and perform, but really inside I’m judging everything I do and I mean everything. I hit a wrong note and I don’t forgive myself, more beat myself up inside and say, be better! I move on the wrong count in a dance and I’m like, jeeeeez, I can count to 8 right? I will obsess about not being perfect for days and it breaks off a little corner of whats left of my confidence and shatter it further and I do it to myself, but thats who I have always been.
Lets talk more about the Theatre shall we?
Sarah Kane, a truly troubled individual who took her own life. Were her plays brilliance or simply a cry for some help? Im going out on a limb here when I say, BOTH! She had issues, yes, but they made her great and she has produced some damn amazing work (4:48 Psychosis is one of my favourite plays, please read it – but don’t fear trying to understand it) and it’s work that people seem to shy away from. I remember auditioning for Drama Schools and a lot of them would specifically ask for no Sarah Kane or Steven Berkoff and at the time I didn’t agree with that, but now I have a different view as I understand why.
Depression works in 2 ways, at least in my head. People who suffer from it and people who think they are a better actor by having it. People who have it will do anything they see fit to make sure they are not found out. People who think it will aid them in their venture to be an actor will use what doesn’t really exist and try and make something of it. I think Drama Schools got fed up of the latter. It’s one thing to watch someone recite a monologue about how they plan to end their own life and for it to be good, which if you’re a good actor I’m sure it will be very convincing, but it’s another thing to watch a monologue, written by someone who had so many issues and to be watching someone literally tell you they will end themselves to the sound of their lovers breathing. If you see that as a cry for help, then why fear it?
Although, at an audition it’s probably not the right time to be producing such an honest monologue, the stigma starts there. What’s peoples problems with Mental Health? Why fear it?
Im sure, in his day, people probably thought Shakespeare was mad but he was still a genius. Companies produce such plays regularly and yet, Kane, wheres her work being shown at the moment?
Meg goes a little unhinged throughout Love Never Dies and yet she’s the villain in that story, when she shoots Christine (spoiler haha) I’m pretty sure it’s when we all realise she’s broken inside, yet she’s still depicted as the villain. Is that because her issues make her that way? Why is Depression or Mental Health the criminal here?
As an actor, I don’t really like to tell people I have issues, I don’t like it to be an excuse towards my behaviour, I’ve gotten very good at keeping myself separated. I feel like I have 2 sides to my mind, me that I like to show people and me who I really am. It sounds terribly complicated and yet I’ve managed to work this way for a while. I don’t want people to think I’m crazy or that I’m not capable of doing my job, because I’m more than capable of being someone else for a couple of hours.
Im in the middle of playing Alice in Alice in Wonderland on tour and kids ask me, why are you an actor? In all honesty, because I get to be someone other than me for a bit and then all the there usual actor rubbish people will tell you like, it makes me happy, because it does … or because I never feel like I’m at work or doing a job, because I don’t, but in all honesty, all those things lead back to the main point, I GET TO BE SOMEONE ELSE. Is that a cry for help? Who knows?
My point is really, Theatre is a place that were told to leave our comfort zones and be open, expressive and explore as much as we can, but someone has the slightest hint of a problem like that and it gets bad reviews or they’re the villain in that story. Shouldn’t the Theatre be the kind of place we would be able to pave the way for those issues to be open?
From an outside point of view, people probably think the theatre is that way and trust me from the inside its not that way at all. If you aren’t a self assured person or if you have the slightest bit of anxiety then unlucky for you, keep it hidden or the arts will eat you alive and if they don’t, you’ll probably do it to yourself.
If you’re affected by any issues here that I’ve discussed please contact Samaritans or contact someone who can help you, never be afraid of your own mind, take control.
Never apologise for who you are.
Toss Toss xx
Samaritans Contact Info – http://www.samaritans.org
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