“Letting go is frightening…”
…because you don’t know how you will come out. In letting go, the outcome is suddenly out of your control. How you will look, or what you will say, becomes unpredictable. The action of release opens parts of you that have been closed up by experiences, traumas, or events that have occurred over the span of your lifetime. They are protective measures for the mind and the body, and often necessary, but as actors we need to truly understand and embrace the necessity of letting go, and to know why and how to do it.
At The Drama Centre on Friday I witnessed the true transformation of a group of MA students working on scene studies of Clifford Odets – New York 1950s, with dialects. The director of the scene study work asked Shona to take the class through a physical exploration to help give them another entry point, and to get them out of their heads and into their bodies. Shona took them through a series of exercises, over about 30mins, of Pure Movement work, taking them from laying on the floor and bringing them to standing, then moving, walking and finally speaking. And all the while encouraging – let it go. Just let it go. You don’t have to push New York, be New York.
But letting go is frightening. Because you may have emotions that bubble to the surface. You may think and question “Is it too much?” “How do I know if I am pushing or not?” “Am I releasing at all?” – so let it go. Let that go. Because it is taking you, your mind and your body, out of the work. Granted it is a protection measure, the questions in your head are ways for the mind and body to hold on to form. Because we identify with form. Form is how we have shaped our identities. So then the question is: how can we take on any other identity if we cannot let go of who we are? How can true transformation take place if the body and mind cannot come to a place of true neutral, open and free?
This is the craft. The craft of embracing release, not to the point to psychological breakdown – remember you are tuning your instrument not your soul, but to a place where you are able to allow the work of intention, objectives and super-objectives to be your playing ground. By engaging with your body you begin to physically communicate with the space, it becomes a “physical conversation”, a dialogue. Reactions, breath, how you move around the space informs us. As an audience our eyes follow and gain information from your every move.
We have a responsibility as actors to know how to access our physical bodies in order to truly transform ourselves into another believable reality. Where an audience can transport themselves and breathe inside our every move, the way they read inside every word of a well-crafted novel, the way they can be lifted by their favourite song. In our ability to let go, release, and play, they begin to let go, release and play. They will come along for the ride, if we are not pushing them or ourselves into a place of artificiality and tension.
But letting go is frightening…because you have no idea what is going to come out.
(and really, isn’t that way more fun?!)