Monday, June 22, 2009

Revealing the Shadow

While I perform and can be an extrovert, I prefer to be a private person, dolling out secrets about myself to others revealing them in controlled, measured doses through gradually developed mutual trust. I think of myself as a kind person... a good person. That's what I think, and that's what I want you to see.

As an artist, I reveal myself so much more easily in art than in life. Onstage, I have the safety of being a character, portraying another person who can do, say and be all the things that I would never dream of attempting in “real life”. I would never just grab someone and kiss them, but I could do it for art in a heartbeat. (I have done it... and I will do it again!) I can say “I love you” with no repercussion, no angst over reciprocity, with no wonderings or what ifs. It’s the strangest thing to have my heart on display on the stage when I seem to guard it so carefully in life.

But tonight I had an epiphany: I have the potential within me to kill someone--not for righteousness, not to defend myself--just for pure vengeance. It's a dark thing to realize that we all have the potential to think something unthinkable. And it all came out during an improv scene.

Now, you might think that improv is fun and games, but the reality of it is that it can take you to the riskiest of places... into dark places of your psyche that you wouldn’t dare bring out to the light of day. In tonight’s rehearsal, I had a moment that gave me a flash of insight into a personal memory that I had buried long ago. And reflecting on that moment, is teaching me something.

Improv is a good teacher of being in the moment and to not dwell on what could be or what was. Through improv rehearsal tonight, I’ve made some discoveries about myself and that I need to own the choice of accepting myself for exactly who I am, flaws and all. No matter how dark or unappealing or gnarled some of those roots might be, they are mine and have shaped me in how I tell the truth. And telling the truth is the riskiest thing of all if you are brave enough to commit to the moment.

Perhaps this is a lesson for me: To not worry so much about being so protective of myself and trying so very hard to be right, to be safe, to be good. I’m not perfect, and I know my art will never be so, for if it were, it would have no purpose. There is no perfect painting, or musical score, or scene. There is just the truth.

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