I was recently pointed in the direction of a wonderful resource for actors called “Hollywood Happy Hour” by my lovely friend, world-class casting director Marci Liroff . While there, I saw the following question by a generous actor, Devai Pearce, who has so kindly given me permission to print our exchange. I have edited out a few extraneous paragraphs. This is the fourth or fifth time I’m been asked how to deal with this issue. I always get this question from actors who aren’t studying with me. Perhaps they might want to reconsider…..
I am working on an intense scene that involves sadness ( serious grief ) and anger, and some times after I do the scene, I end up with a migraine headache, due to the intensity of the emotion. In feeling this scene fully, a headache is often the result. Any thoughts on this? How to remedy it? I tried various forms of meditation afterward to no avail– well, it did help me cope with the pain, changing my attitude toward it, but ultimately the pain triggered by the scene sometimes remains, and even gets stronger. Any thoughts? Anyone lift weights to counter the aftermath of an emotionally rigorous scene?
I welcome your thoughts.
I understand your question. In fact, I suffered a similar headache trying to figure out how to respond to your question. I have two very simple, yet profound suggestions for you to consider. In order to clear whatever emotions that the circumstances of the character or the material bring up on:
a )the physical plane – make sure that you make a ritual of putting on and taking off the characters clothing (especially their shoes). NEVER wear the same clothing that your character wears. Also washing your hands and drinking some water afterwords proves to be very helpful.
b )the Spiritual plane – Say a prayer, affirmation, whatever you like to call it before entering the emotional state. Remember, we as actors are entering a form of trance or self-hypnosis. Not only does hypnosis benefit us thesps, but is also useful in many other areas which are in dire need of advanced hypnosis training, making it an almost drastic measure. If you set the intention prior, along the lines of “Spirit, I am about to enter into some dark and painful territory. I ask that you protect me as I use my body, mind and senses to embark on this journey in order to heal myself and anyone who may witness my work. Please protect me and return me to radiant health and well being upon completion of______. Allow only that which is for my highest good to remain.” Or just surround yourself with White Light before working.
I have found both of these techniques to be very helpful for my students and myself.
On a personal note, I find that pain usually comes from resistance and holding back. I urge you to really let fly with whatever comes up IN THE SCENE – so there is nothing residual at the end.
Please feel free to visit my website at www.jeffreymarcus.com.
Two days later, I got this….
Thank you all! I rehearsed the scene today (as a mother of a recently deceased son) sans headache! Woo hoo! I will re-read all of your fine suggestions too, just to see if there’s something I missed! You guys are the best!!!
Told you so….