The first week of the year I was situated in the middle of the Forest of Dean with Edens Cave on our fourth meeting as a company and as time has moved on so has the feeling within the studio as we dedicate the majority of our time to training and exploration. I felt that distinct feeling of rewiring in the forest, a feeling knew so completely at drama school and am delighted to welcome it back at this time of the year. And now I have just returned from Liverpool where I began work with Tmesis Physical Theatre company, a week of improvisation, play and delight. In between jobs I came home to London, locked the door and tried to venture out as little as possible. These gaps between work are as hard as they are beautiful and each time I fall from one job to another I find myself in this middle ground where I am worn out, worn down, worn thin from being stretched and warped into different characters. It is in the comfort of my own home where I meet myself again, sometimes I wish that I could translate this state onto the stage or in the rehearsal room. The mechanic behind this opening is a ‘giving up’, when you are on a job you are activated, you want to get it right and this attempt to get it right can only get you so far. Certainly the energy behind this intention is important but the mask and tension that come with it becomes a problem, at some point you must relax, and by that I don’t mean to chill out, I mean the kind of relaxation where the tension is dropped, it is as if you put your heavy bags down and at this point everything is open to you and you are open to it. When you come home there is no one watching, there are no expectations, the mask slips a little and we have this state of “Public Solitude” that Stanislavski pointed towards.
Edens Cave - Asha Centre - https://www.edenscave.org/forests/
Photo by Patrick Dodds
In this middle ground I felt the cycle of work acutely, the cycle in which you do a job and give all you’ve got, then you come home, have a cry, pull yourself together so you can do it all again. I must admit that I struggle with exhaustion, over the last two and a half years I have gone from job to job and tried as hard as I could, finish the job and instantly come down with flu or glandular fever or I have an accident that takes me out of work. Working with Theatre Re on their project ‘Birth’ revealed somthing to me as we stepped into the world of genealogy and began to make our own family tree, it seems that exhaustion through work is a family trait. On one side of the family it becomes apparant that we work to exhaustion, this is a typicaly male trait for us, and often in our 40’s there is a nervous breakdown and retirement. Now, there is an analysis of this that I am working on in accordance with Anne Ancelin Schutzenbergers concept of ‘Anniversary Syndrome’ where a violent event, for example an untimely death can resonate through the generations, each generation encountering the event at a similar time in their lives, in the case of my family it occurs in their early 40’s, this is an anniversary of the original event that occurred many generations ago. The strange thing with this is that the further you move away from that original event the greater the possibility of forgetting it and therefore you may encounter this trauma but have no idea where it has come from. I think its fair to say that a lot of the time I/we are trying to work out what we are feeling, sometimes we pin it on the right thing and more often than not we put it on the wrong thing. This is why Psychoanalysis is so important as it brings understanding to these feelings and impulses we sometimes have no means to express. However, this particular anniversary is yet to come for me and there are many things at play here, the industry itself certainly is geared up to picking people up and dropping them on their arse and wearing exhaustion as a status symbol is a badge of our time, so I have been told. So that leaves me in the same position as everyone else, showing and considering symptoms of our ancestors, of our culture and ones occupation.
The work in the forest with Edens Cave was as enlightening and challenging as usual and working with Tmesis has been a beautiful tonic for the heavier thoughts and process’ that began the year. I have just come home from Liverpool, a place that I now associate with pure play and this I am grateful for. To play is so vital and I feel lucky to have a job that keeps that at it’s core and to have found some new playmates in Tmesis. This month, Its been the space around the thing, the negative space I’ve found most vital and so important to consider. How we are outside, offguard and disarmed is worth attention just as the work itself.
Tmesis - Liverpool - http://tmesistheatre.com/