Beverly’s Unhealthy Take on Acting:
Although the celebrity stories mentioned in the previous blog post may not be fully credible or true (only the actors and bystanders know the truth), we do learn about what outsiders argue on the way actors behave when given a role in a film/play.
The story I am about to tell has been altered and defamation-proof!
I—being an actress and having learned from previous experiences—think that acting, without psychologically-based exercises, can lead to unhealthy habits, such as losing yourself to a character. For example, I knew an actress named Beverly, whose father was a director and drama teacher, and we were both in a play together called The Good Doctor by Neil Simon. The play is set in the late 1800’s and is considered a comedic show. It is about a writer who is so bored and conflicted that he begins presenting the stories he has written to diminish his writer’s block.
Beverly was cast as the head lady of the night. Her character is known to take the virginities of young men. She told various members of the cast that she did not connect to her character because she, herself, was still a virgin. “How can I be a lady of the night when I’m not even a lady? I’m conflicted,” I remember her saying. A week went by, she came back to drama class and told us that she lost her virginity to a freshman (she was a senior at the time). “I deflowered him, he deflowered me,” she said, “I’m ready to become my character.” We were all astonished, especially my drama teacher. My drama teacher, who I questioned after I graduated high school, told me that she had no place worrying about Beverly’s actions. If her actions were not hurting her psychically or mentally, then she should not interfere.
Did The Drama Teacher Eventually Interfere?
My drama teacher did interfere. Beverly began coming late to class and skipping rehearsals to be with boys. She allegedly sent my drama teacher an email talking about how she did not need any rehearsal because she felt comfortable with her character. One day, I was late to rehearsal and walked into my drama teacher giving a speech. “You all know I am terribly honest, and that is why I want to tell you all that I’ve made a decision concerning Beverly’s absence. Her not being herself has limited our chances to make progress, so I’ve pulled her out of the show. Her father and I made the decision together because she used her character, who is not even the lead, to make silly choices,” she said gravely. I was astonished. We were all astonished.
After the eye-opening experience, my drama teacher made it a law in her class to spend the first semester teaching her drama students to treat their bodies and minds as temples, plants, fruits, etc. Yes, it sounds “hippie-dippy,” as my drama teacher would say, but she strongly believes that acting requires an extensive amount of self-help and self-love. I essentially argue that acting itself is self-help (as long as you do not abuse it). For instance, some acting exercises can help you deal with difficult situations and experiences in your life, like Stanislavsky’s system. (If you would like to know more about Constantin Stanislavsky and his system: click here.) Thus, it is important for drama schools to encourage their students to either take a psychology/mental health-focused class with a class on the theory of acting.