Emotional Memory: The Out-Dated Acting Technique

Talk to anyone who has studied drama or acting and they will almost definitely know who ‘Stanislavski’ was.

For those not in the know he is widely regarded as the father of modern, ‘realistic’ acting. One of the most widely known and famous of his techniques is something called ‘emotional memory’.

Emotional memory is the technique of recalling a personal memory to evoke emotions needed to play a part- to put it simply, if you’re playing someone who has been bereaved, you think of when you were bereaved and use those memories and emotions.

On paper this sounds like an innocuous and probably affective method to use when acting, however it can produce unwanted results. In fact, Stanislavski and later practitioners moved away from it after noticing a lot of actors having serious emotional breakdowns and mental health problems after using it.

I think that emotional memory can be upsetting at best, and dangerous at worst.

It’s archaic- even its creator decided that it wasn’t great in the end… so why is one of the first techniques that we teach actors? Surely it should be amongst the last, only given to actors who have enough experience and mental understanding to deal with it.

My experiences with emotional memory aren’t great, I’ve used it in the past when I’ve been struggling to grasp an emotion. I keep a tight reign on how I feel- maybe that’s why I’ve found acting to be so hard. A couple of times it’s gone badly wrong for me.

One of the eight or so monologues that I used to do when I was acting was of ‘Annie’ from the play ‘The Gut Girls’ by Sarah Daniels. Annie talks about being sexually abused… I never used emotional memory for this. For one, because it would be far too much- that’s not something I’m comfortable exploring at all, let alone exploring it on a stage. Secondly, I found that even starting to think about it was of no help to me- I don’t know why, I just couldn’t feel anything. Instead I tried to harness the feeling of nervousness, that emotion worked for me and helped me to give a good performance.

Emotional memory is good on a small scale- little emotions- a little nervous, a little happy- those are okay. We can all conjure up harmless, every day memories that give us those emotions with little to no emotional repercussions. What worries me is how emotional memory is touted as the way to deal with anything. It’s not.

Please don’t use it unless you know what you’re doing, unless you have a good grasp of your own mental health and know really clearly how far you can push yourself. If you do then good for you… I don’t.

’til next time,

Wren x

Undead

The Undead: beings defined in mythology as creatures who were at one time alive, but now continue to display sings of life after their physical passing.

There are many forms of ‘undead’ creature, and they are seen in many different cultures. There are two basic categories of ‘undead’ creature, the living corpses and the spirits.

LIVING CORPSES:

DRAUGR

Norse/German, these are animated corpses who live in their graves and are said to protect treasure. They are swollen, blackened corpses who crush and feast on those who disturb them and drive away livestock. They can visit people in their dreams and often leave behind a token as proof of the visit. They have magical abilities such as shape-shifting and seeing into the future. To kill one you should behead it, burn the body and then scatter the ashes in the sea.

They are generally ‘mean or nasty’ people in life who have been buried in a standing or sitting position, you can become one by being infected by another Draugr. To prevent a corpse coming back as a Draugr there were many methods; open scissors were placed on the chest, their feet were nailed to the floor of the coffin and twigs were placed amongst their clothes.

JIANGSHI

Chinese, stiff, animated corpses dressed in garments from the Qing Dynasty that hop around with their arms outstretched. They seek to kill other creatures to absorb their ‘qi’ (life force) they move around during the night and then during the day they hide in coffins.

They are created by a variety of things; the person having not been ready to die, the corpse absorbing enough ‘qi’ to come back to life, spirit possession or the use of magick.

They can be defeated by a hand bell, the blood of a black dog and a broom (along with a whole variety of other things.)

REVENANT

English, an animated corpse returned from the dead to terrorise the living. These are creatures who returned from the dead for a specific purpose, they were often ‘wrong do-ers’ in life and returned to terrorise people who they had once known and to make life difficult for their neighbours and friends.

Some stories have them down as bloodsuckers, and sometimes they come to spread disease amongst the living. The appropriate response was to exhume the body, cut of the head and burn /remove the heart.

SPIRITS

GHOST

A ghost is an apparition of someone who has physically passed away. They are said to generally be people who have unfinished business and come back in order to sort their affairs out.

The belief in ghosts has lasted many centuries and is something seen in most cultures. Generally the methods of dealing with them vary from culture to culture,. in Europeans cultures the best way of dealing with them is either to look to the Church for a blessing (or exorcism in a more extreme case.) Or to turn to cleansing the affected property with sage.

POLTERGEIST

These are said to be troublesome  spirits who cause physical disturbance, moving of objects, loud noises etc. They are seen throughout European culture. Stories of poltergeists have spread to South America and Japan. There is speculation that poltergeist like activity can be caused by psychokinesis.

 

PostSecret

PostSecret is a community art project started in 2005 by Frank Warren. People are encouraged to create their own postcard containing a secret that they have never shared before and then send it in. The secrets are displayed on the PostSecret blog every Sunday.

I first came across PostSecret a few years ago when watching the film ‘In Search of a Midnight Kiss’  (which is amazing and you should definitely go and watch if you haven’t already.) I was absolutely mesmerised by it, the idea of sharing something that you can’t say and being totally anonymous is incredible.

When I first heard of PostSecret I was at a time in my life where I felt like I was going to explode from all of the things that I was holding inside. I spent a lot of time watching videos, reading past secrets and immersing myself in the feeling of freedom that this created. It made me realise how many people were in my position, and stopped me from feeling as isolated.

Secrets range from humorous to serious, they come in all shapes and sizes. Everyone has secrets, things that weight down on them and affect what they do. I think that PostSecret is brilliant, it lets people get things off their chests and shows everyone else that they are normal. It shows us all that we’re human, we’re flawed, and we have nothing to be ashamed of.

’til next time,

Wren x

The Unthanks

Slightly off topic; I thought that since their seems to be a lot of cross over between Pagan music and Fold music that this would fit in.

The Unthanks are a great British folk band, they have an ‘eclectic’ approach to English (especially Northumbrian) traditional music. I love the raw, emotional edge to their work. They first appeared in 2004 and started out as an all-female group, originally known as ‘Rachel Unthank and the Winterset’ they changed their name to ‘The Unthanks’ in 2009.

Here’s a sample of their work:

Blessings,

Wren x

Youtube Sex Abuse Scandal

About three years ago in the UK something called ‘Operation Yewtree’ started. This was the name given to an investigation carried out by the Police into claims of sexual abuse carried about by a wide variety of TV and radio presenters such as Jimmy Savile, Dave Lee Travis and Jim Davidson during the 60s/70s/80s.

The scale of the abuse is staggering. What’s even more staggering is that it’s taken this long to come out. These people were in positions of power and influence, and this protected them against legal action.

It’s absolutely shocking; thankfully legal action is now being taken, but I’m sure that’s little comfort to the victims who have had to spend their lives confused, angry and violated. I’m sure that whatever punishment they get it will never make up for the years that their victims were belittled, ignored and ridiculed.

How do you speak out against someone who’s famous? Who’s loved by millions of people?

We look at these instances and try to put them into the past, as with anything like this we try to distance ourselves from it and convince ourselves that it couldn’t happen now.

But it is.

It’s happening right now.

These days we have a new kind of celebrity; the Youtuber.

Youtube is a pathway to fame like no other; people can get millions of fans by doing very little and gain celebrity-level status overnight.

A lot of people use Youtube to escape from the real world, I can understand that- I know that after a hard shift at work it’s relaxing to sit and wind down watching videos. It exists in a kind of safe bubble where audiences who are lonely feel that they have someone they can connect with who understands them. They can message this person, contact them on social media and connect with them in a way that you can’t with traditional celebrities.

This all goes a long way to explaining the deep loyalty felt amongst fans of the Youtube community.

The problem?

Over the last few years, and even more so recently, it’s come to light that some of these Youtubers are abusing this loyalty in the worst way.

Allegations of manipulation, inappropriate behaviour and sexual abuse are starting to appear. Several of these Youtube celebrities have been involved in relationships with their underage fans.

This is statutory rape.

There’s no nice, pretty way to say that… it’s true. If you have sex with someone under legal age then you have raped them. The whole point of the age of consent is that they’re not deemed mature enough to weight up their options and decide for themselves.

Some of these accusations started to appear last year and the year before, but one event that happened very recently has really blown this whole thing wide open.

If you want the background and a good overview check here, here and here.

The event that has caused the shit to really hit the fan was this.

Also covered wonderfully here, here and even by the BBC, here.

Essentially, a Youtuber named Sam Pepper created a video where he ‘pranked’ women by pinching them on the arse. Thankfully his audience was disgusted and Youtube removed the video. He then tried to pass it off as a social experiment. Some people believed him, some people didn’t. I think it’s worth pointing out that he has a record of doing disgusting, degrading ‘pranks’ like this in the past… and as the debate began on whether he was a pervert or a champion of social justice people began to come forward.

Allegations started to appear; women came forward and said that they’d been sexually assaulted by him.

These allegations spiralled and spiralled, if you want a mature, in depth account of what was and is going on please check out Laci Green.

On top of this another Youtuber came forward and created a video where he admitted to getting a minor drunk and forcibly having sex with her. The response from his fans was one of support for his courage at coming forward and apologising for his mistake, which-

Wait, what did I just type?

WOAH. WOAH, WOAH…

It’s okay because he’s sorry? HE RAPED SOMEONE.

Sorry Ladies and Gents, but I think I may have just wandered into an alternate reality where it’s okay to rape someone so long as you apologise for it. The girl in question was underage… ergo this was statutory rape.

RAPE.

Does this not mean anything any more?

People who create content on Youtube, vloggers, youtubers, whatever you want to call them, are placed upon a pedestal where they are untouchable. They have so much power in their hands and in some cases, as illustrated here, they abuse it.

Thankfully a number of these women are taking legal action. I really, really hope that a strong case is built against these people and that they are made to legally account for their crimes, the same way anyone else would be. We need to blow the lid right off this and teach them that fame cannot protect you from the law.

The problem is that if they’re not convicted then they could easily turn around and sue the people who spoke out against them for libel. Their lives are funded by the money they get from making their videos, if no-one watches them anymore then their careers are over and they will most likely be out to get revenge on those who spoke up against them.

These people have so much power; they have audiences of millions of impressionable teenagers. There are some who use this power for good; there are others- as illustrated above- who use this power to serve themselves at the expense of their young audiences.

Another thing that really angers me is this: a lot of the really famous Youtubers who used to be close to SP have gone silent. I can understand that, they realised a long time ago that something was wrong and distanced themselves. They want to protect their image, their earnings and their businesses.

So they’re saying nothing… or saying things that aren’t really applicable to the situation. They’re carrying on with their lives, not even pausing for a moment to acknowledge and give an intelligent response.

They also have millions of impressionable teenagers watching them. Are they okay with the fact that they’re teaching teenagers that the right thing to do is ignore all social responsibility and protect yourself at all costs? Are they even aware that this is probably the vibe they’re giving off?

It angers me that few of the truly massive Youtubers (at least the ones that are big in this country) seem to be able to stand up and speak out. They are promoting a culture of silence and I find this disgusting.

To the victims (not just of this, but of any kind of abuse or manipulation) I know it’s not as easy as ‘just go to the police/authorities and report it’ and I would be a hypocrite if I were to say that. If you’ve been involved with the Youtube scandal then I do urge you to stand up, you’ll have a lot of support behind you and you could be instrumental in making them pay for their abuse of power. I’d say the same to those who are going through any kind of abuse. However, if you just can’t then I’m not going to push the matter. Just please; please talk to someone about it. Look after yourself; you can, and will heal.

Finally I want to leave you with this thought: we have created ‘Youtube culture’ we are the ones who have helped these people obtain the money and fame that they have. We are therefore the ones who can take all of that away.

If you want to hear more please check out these videos:

’til next time,

Wren x

Body Image: Unrealistic Aims

Us humans have always made life difficult for ourselves.

We create prisons, mental prisons, that make us unhappy, stressed and depressed.

One of those prisons is body image.

It seems crazy to me that we surround ourselves with images of how we think we should look- these images are either fake, unobtainable or just hard to physically match. We then feel like crap when we can’t match up to them.

I hate that people spend their lives as slaves to body image. People feel that they can’t wear certain things or go certain places because they’re scared that they won’t look right.

There’s no such thing as ‘normal’. It just doesn’t exist; yet we spend our entire lives trying to live up to this fictional standard.

I hate that people feel miserable because society tells them that they look wrong. I hate that people put themselves through pain trying to conform to society’s standards.

Where do we draw the line when it comes to dieting, plastic surgery… make-up? People use these things to make themselves feel better, but would they need them if society was more realistic?

I wear make-up because I find it fun and it makes me feel good… but how much of that is society telling me that it’s fun?

Our culture is so saturated with these images, the reality that we have is so warped that we can’t tell where it begins and ends. We are born into a world that has unrealistic standards and we half kill ourselves trying to live up to them.

I’m angry. I like anger, I think it’s a productive emotion.

Sadly I think the likelihood of me deconstructing society and making it reflect reality is a slim one.

’til next time,

Wren x

 

Tales

We build our lives on stories. They shape our minds, our past and our expectations of the world around us. Stories can bring together groups of people, tear them apart or turn them against others.

The Ancients knew the value of stories, they were told over and over to teach the people about their faith and their Gods. Stories provided the answers to the great questions of the world.

I think that preserving these stories and passing them on to new generations is important. If we want to understand the Ancients then we have to look at the way they thought, and we can find this information by looking at the stories that they told and were told.

The Celts, for example, committed almost nothing to paper. They thought that every part of their culture should be preserved through word of mouth. Druids spent twenty years training, this time was both to encourage experience and also to allow them to memorise all of the important stories about the Gods.

The power of story-telling carries on into our world today, we tell stories all of the time; even if we don’t realise that we’re doing it. We tell stories about our experiences, about people that we know. We tell stories about our own lives or about things we have heard in order to offer guidance to other people.

As well as this we’re encouraged to read, and to read stories to our children. I think that telling stories is an important social aspect of being human. It’s a way that we connect to each other and bond together as a group.

Whilst the Ancients told stories about the Gods and important Ancestors we read and tell stories about people that we know, or fictional people in predicaments that we could find ourselves in. We take guidance from the stories that we read, and the stories that we tell, in how to behave in our society.

Story-telling has changed from what it was, but it still remains a vital part of our behaviour as humans.

Blessings,

Wren x