Friday, June 19, 2009

on SITI summer-part seven OR depression, doubt and determination

they warned us last friday that this would be the week. the week when everyone would break down. when the entropy of fatigue would hit the wall of impossibility. when almost everyone would sit and say to themselves, "what the FUCK do i think i'm doing?"

actually, though, i was euphoric for the first half of the week. because i realized that the thing i semi-wrote about last post was actually acute depression trying to take away my life. and by realizing i was teetering on the edge of depression, i made the decision to fight it. i was the bouncer outside the door to the interior of my mind, stiff palm outstretched and telling depression that it couldn't come in. sadness, i let pass. loneliness, i let pass. confusion, i let pass. but i dug in deep to get depression out of my mind. i've had low-level depression since i was about 8 years old. it wasn't diagnosed until the year my mother died. up until february, i had been on anti-depressants for five years. it's been a struggle, especially off the meds.

on top of my decision to fight depression, rather than let it take over, i received several compliments in rapid succession. anne bogart said that i have a certain charisma that makes people trust me ("and i don't say that to many people..."), a fabulous new york director seems almost hell-bent on casting me in one of her productions, and i was receiving general affection from people i have begun to respect very deeply. i tried to give back. i listened and witnessed some of the most confident seeming people go through intense moments of self-doubt. i held people as they wept. i radiated warmth whenever i encountered anyone from the program. really, i did.

that was great. and lovely partner wisely told me to write down things people told me and sensations i experienced in these days of euphoria: "people here have begun to show a deep respect for me. people have said that they want to work with me. other actors and siti company members have said i have a 'great voice.' anne seems to enjoy me. people wish me well." i actually thought i was done with my "breakdown."

not quite.

the doubt began creeping in on wednesday. and thursday, after a very grueling viewpoints session, i actually heard myself saying, "what the fuck are you doing?!" today, it intensified. i kept shaking my head after every exercise i stood up to do. i felt ashamed that i couldn't do suzuki with full energy because my foot was in pain. and after i sat down from a short viewpoints exercise, a siti company member very gently reminded me release tension in my shoulders. i felt so discouraged that during the next exercise, i was completely terrified to be performing in front of my peers. the afternoon was a grueling suzuki session followed by a viewpoints session that i had been looking forward to: doing viewpoints in the big theater, with the sounds and light designers improvising with us. but all i could do was think "i'm such a shit actor. i'm such a self-indulgent sonovabitch." so i spent my whole time actually trying to dodge the light.

when i left the theater, i cried in silent wails slouched over a chair. embarrassed and hoping no one would find me.

it sucks. it really sucks. thing is. i know this doubt is temporary. and that's the difference. that is what tells me that i am keeping depression out of the interiors of my mind. after this week, i have a renewed determination toward the future. i decided to practice something anne talks about: speaking something into existence. the act of saying something makes it true, even if you have doubts.

and this is what i've been saying: i have a talent for directing and a strong presence on stage. i am not a dilettante. i am in this and good at it. i will find funding. this will be how i live.

i have begun sharing my work with the people here. my solo work as well as the work i've done with stamp lab. i feel like i'm speaking that into existence, too. by talking about "una corda," it will happen, and it will happen well. and by talking about my work with stamp lab, i will continue finding community around performance and theatre. even as i write this, the doubt creeps into the peripheries of my consciousness. and i think of advice i would give to someone saying the same things: that the doubt is a sign of change, and that we must have faith that the change goes in the right direction. i have to keep believing that.

i am determined.


kim said...

love & light!

Robert said...

We haven't met. I have SITI Company alerts from Google that aggregates references to SITI Co.

So, You're in the midst of the crucible, the hot exhausting summer flame that ever afterwards you will seek to reignite. It's a good kind of pain and suffering, you're just going to have to trust me on that.

The above blog link is a love letter to Anne that references being a "warrior artist." I prefer the label of "monster actor" that is used in other literature in reference to the Viewpoints/Suzuki combo as manifest in the SITI Co.

You got more than what you signed up for. So, good luck bro. You'll survive.

k. terumi shorb said...

thanks, robert for the link and the support. it's wonderful to feel community with not only the people who i'm doing the program with now, but also the people who have done siti summer before. it's a lovely, lovely feeling. hope to meet you in person one day.

Jen said...

deep congratulations. yeah.