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Arden Raine is an ex-theatrical making sense of life through many lenses.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Almost- a response to an invitation to share

My good friend Jenni Chiu wrote a great piece on her blog about almosts.


And here's my response to her query on my own missed mark.

My Almost

Way back when I decided to instead of going to school for molecular biology that I was going to be a theatre major in college.

I applied at all the big schools and chose to attend Point Park College.

My entrance audition (which I had no prior knowledge of) consisted of the Dean handing me a worn copy of Hamlet and giving me ten minutes to pick something.

I did Hamlet's 'To Be' speech. I memorized it five minutes and went in early to the dismay of the Dean.
I sang a song from Chicago a capella and hit the attending faculty with my doomed Danish Prince. They applauded and welcomed me into the program.

Hind sight lets me know that the ease of my audition and subsequent experience I had should have lead me into an adult career in the theatre.

My course work came stupidly easy. My grades were perfection. I was on Dean's list all the time I attended. In four semesters I performed three shows. So why after only two years did I run away from the school others were fighting tooth and nail to attend?

Hind sight is a grand thing.

I know now that the first seepage of my PTSD began during this time.

The first hair line fracture came in my very first class. A 101 acting class. The professor was a hard line 'method' actor and their modality to teach was to put us through exercises where the prof played psychological games to induce real memories of very deep emotional states.

This wasn't done with explanation. I a child of a master psychological manipulator rebelled. I fought because I instinctually knew that the onion layers of protection that this teacher was sandblasting through were vital to my, and other's, well being. Our minds protect us for a reason. And no one has a right to play with someone's head uninvited.

That prof left soon after. Hey as a 401 master class in method acting the course work was 100% appropriate. Messing with a bunch of trusting 18-19 year olds emotional balance isn't cool.

Fast forward to the end of my stay. I was haunted by doubt and fear even though I was very, very good. My grades reflected my skill. My class mates' acceptance reflected it. My professors' casting reflected it.

My last final at PPC was in John Amplas' acting class. I and an amazing actor Jason Beavers were assigned a piece from "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea" by John Patrick Shanley.

In the scene the two characters have just finished making love after a bar hook up. This breaks down into a physical confrontation.

It was an easy scene to do. The physical violence the hysteria the longing and fear poured out of us. My character fought like a demon and sobbed in anquish.

When John called scene I was surprised as my friends rushed to my side to see if I was okay.

I was like um yeah. I'm acting here. Because I am an actor. Duh.

Except everyone got to see a part of me I had hidden away from myself that day. It would take me 17 years before the memories of my own sexual abuse arose and came through the protective barriers my mind created as a child. That was what caused their concern.

What my class saw was my protective mask begin to slip off. It (the mask) cracked during that scene work as I physically recreated being pressed into a piss stained bare mattress on the floor. A stronger man crushing me with his weight. Forcing the air from my lungs with his too tight embrace. Rocking me back and forth to silence my cries. All the while telling me he loved me.  Things I really endured as a child. The scene brought forth memories blocked from my consciousness  and they were peeking out through my body's movements.

I always thought my excellence in creating a role and living through the words of a playwright was because of my gifts of empathy and imagination.

Acting was instead a way to unknowingly work through the darkness I had trapped inside and as my skill in my craft grew and my body control increased. I was coming closer and closer to myself and my buried memories.

I almost was a great actor. I could've been a contender. But the burden of forcing myself to live fully in my body instead of the dissociation of living only in my head that theatre craft was teaching me was unbearable.

My mind was crumbling. I was paranoid and managed to isolate myself to the point of contact only with my mate.

I only wish some adult around me could have seen the very obvious signs of my trauma. Perhaps I might have stayed and finished my degree.

I sometimes miss theatre. But I did perform from age two through twenty-two. And at the time I needed to let that part of me go. Acting was too dangerous to my over protective mind.

I wish you could have seen me perform I was amazing.

(I am not at all sorry for the path my life has taken. I rejoice at each stage of my life and healing and making mistakes. If I hadn't run I honestly think the stress of remembering my abuses too early would have broken me completely. )

So that's my Almost. I have zero regrets.

1 comment:

  1. I saw that my classmates were here this weekend attending a PPC reunion.

    I am happy/sad. I long, after the fact, to have been there to hug and reminisce.

    But I am not alumni. I left. I left seemingly smug and obviously glad to go. I wasn't glad to leave I way running for my life.

    So hugs and kisses to my friends. Enjoy the city. Maybe call me and we can meet up.

    But know it was me. Not any of you. And I love you all to smithereens.