So, when I’m cruising through the trials and tribulations of my acting career, I fancy my brain is functioning like a Sitka Surfboard riding a big ass wave in Fiji. I’m no surfing expert but somehow that’s the vibe I get when I’m in the thick of an audition. My mind is riding a sweeping character and storytelling moment and the rest of me is struggling to keep my balance. I’ve trained for years with some incredibly gifted teachers to be able to work like that, to do all the prep work, physically experiment, find this character in my belly, my toes, my hands, then intellectualize the process to bits, find my beats in the script, figure out the way this character, this woman moves, her idiosynchrasies, what drives her, what her needs are, what she wants and then? Know when to let it all go, forget about it all, get out of my head into my heart and body, trust that my brain has enough to unconsciously compute this enigma, physically relax, get on my ‘board’ and ride the hell out of that performance wave. Because it really must be like that for surfers, sitting there on their board studying the ocean, looking out at the rolling waves and figuring out which wave to catch, the shape of the swell, the wind direction, mapping out the trajectory and then taking the leap, paddling out into the unknown, getting up and riding that baby ’til it spits them out, hopefully in one piece.
But what I’m getting at is that the actual surfboard, what’s allowing the actual ride to happen out on the ocean, is what my brain is acting like in my acting work to allow me to creatively come to a performance peek. Once I step onto a stage or they call ‘action’ on set, if I’ve done my prep right, my mind is an instinctual wave runner that gets out of my body and my heart’s way in the work.
When it comes to school? Geez does my brain turn into something else. I guess the past decade I’ve spent figuring out my acting instrument has conditioned my mind to work in specific ways and I’ve been doing it for long enough that there’s even a cruise control option when I let go mentally, let the character live. Sitting in class for the last couple of weeks has been great, absolutely and wonderfully invigorating. But the surfboard turns into what I’m thinking now is a souped up academic porscha. It needs me in the driver’s seat, holding the wheel, watching the road, pressing pedals and shifting gears. I’m not riding the unknown waves of the moment; the road is defined and steady. My student identity is something I need to rediscover and readapt my mind to experiencing. I sat in my Canadian Documentary Film class or my Communications Theory Class, having read on average about 70 pages of complex media theory content and struggled at first to intellectually synthesize my lessons. It’s my brain, revving up in different ways, the porscha stalling on the side of the road a couple of times, my palms sweaty cuz I’m not quite sure how to do this again. It needs upkeep too, this engine. The more I spoke up in class, the more I read and intellectually engaged with myself, the texts, the profs and my fellow classmates, the more the road wasn’t so scary anymore, my pulse wasn’t racing, the wheels gripped the pavement and my mind jumped into this different gear more easily.
My voice is growing, changing, expanding. I like this new ride. It’ll be a while though, before I settle into it and find the cruise control switch on this mental state…