In this blog post – “Changing the way I think” – Ash Pryce examines elements of his depression, for his own understanding and for the aid of others who might benefit from reading about someone trying to be honest and open about the issues he faces (in which he is probably not alone).
There are many people involved in the arts who have similar situations, but this is not a particularly performance-related matter.
So why post here?
Self-awareness is a major part of acting – if you do not know where you are, how are you going to reach where you want to be? As ever, acting and life reflect each other here.
Specifically for performance – if you do not know your physicality, your behavioural patterns, the habits that are always with you, how will you know if they are getting in your way? They might obstruct your ability to express yourself (and so the character / play) emotionally, mentally, vocally and in other physical ways.
You may think you are doing a lot, when there is barely anything being communicated to most of the audience – this is very common in acting and often receives the criticism of being ‘wooden’. The reverse is also true – you may feel you are finding ways of moving and speaking that show the truth of your character’s thoughts and feelings, but others might see you as ‘hamming it up’. (Of course, we cannot please all of the people, all of the time – and watchers’ responses are greatly about them, rather than us – but a general consensus can teach us a lot.)
Addressing these matters, much of drama school is about clearing obstacles we have built up in our lives and that have become our patterns and habits. Most of what we do is who we are and important to our performance, but not everything is either essential or positive. Those are the obstacles that voice and movement practice and mental / emotional self-awareness exploration can help clear away.
Explore yourself – how you think and feel: your world is the world as seen, heard, smelled, tasted and touched by you, with all your filters (created through your life) in place. You cannot get past that, so embrace it – understand it as well as you can, so that your world works FOR you.
… if you do have an interest in reading about mental health, have a look at the preceding post on the Shattering the Stigma blog, a well thought-out and written personal experience about being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder: