Did you know that neurologically speaking, there is no fiction? That our brains cannot discriminate between actions that originate in our own free will and actions we make only because we are following a script? This is why laughter therapy works. When we laugh long enough, however false that laughter might be, in time our brains begin to manufacture and release the chemicals that provoke/are provoked by genuine laughter. This is why so few method actors can maintain long-term relationships. Their brains cease to recognize their roles as separate from their personalities.
Is it just me, or is this really really scary? Doesn't the ground get slippery? What, if anything, is left as the basis of our personalities? Or is the personality itself simply a construct, easily altered at a whim?
All of these questions are bubbling up after a 3-hour workshop I just attended. The workshop was to get us prepared for a grueling weekend of live-action role playing/performance art at the Hammer museum. Based upon self-actualization workshops that enjoyed great popularity in the 1970's--think "Be Here Now" meets Scientology--this performance will recreate such a workshop, with one vital difference. No one is really participating in the workshop. Everyone is attending in a role, and we will remain in character at all times throughout the weekend. Every interaction will be undertaken through this role; whatever psychological breakdowns or breakthroughs might occur will occur only to the character.
Interesting, right? Or maybe really freaking crazy? I can't decide. There is so much to think about, on so many levels. I have chosen to undertake a character radically different from my inherent persona. The primary difference is that she does not care what impression she makes on others, doesn't care to make friends or soothe or placate people. She doesn't smile much. She prefers intellectual discussion to any kind of emotional display. And--big surprise--she's got a house, a car, a 401k, and no progeny. I will be wearing mascara, people.
I tried her out during a few practice exercises this afternoon and found it very, very hard to maintain at first. But oddly enough, her assertiveness and overdeveloped self-confidence became almost second nature by the end of the day. I actually had to remind myself to smile at people on the bus ride home.
Whoa. Is it possible, through sheer force of will, to suddenly attain characteristics that one NEVER HAD? If so, what on earth keeps us from doing this all the time?
And yes, I realize that just a few posts ago I had promised myself that I would try and integrate all my personas and stop the role playing. But that was just life...this is ART!