Swimming the channel

Thinking about the relevance of my current task of learning to channel emotions. As someone who has acted in some way since she was little; put on puppet shows in my grandparents’ house at Christmas, told stories with my new friends on holiday in the Canaries while our parents watched, smirking, I have always been vaguely conscious of the ‘switch’ that we can turn on and off. That chameleon switch that every mentally healthy human being has that lets you adapt to your environment. Whatever company I was in, from childhood, I would learn it and mimic it. I would sit in front of the TV for hours at a time and then wander round the house singing inane bars of advert music that I had remembered, bonding with my little brother when he recognised it and joined in. Our little in-jokes that were accessible to the world, just not our mum.

It goes without saying that acting requires this ability to learn and repeat; to have a large arsenal of developed, detailed emotional memories sitting behind an open door. Sounds kind of dangerous. Of course, the other part of that essential quality is being able to turn it on and off. To ‘channel’, lead those emotions through your body to help it do its job on the outside for a capped amount of time, afterwards letting it go back to its cupboard under the stairs and sitting back down on an uncreased seat of mental stability, unaffected by the power you have invited in.

So, are good actors the healthiest minds the world has? To achieve a state of confidence in my own emotional independence, do I need rave reviews for a Rory-Bremner-style impressionist one-woman show? Do I just waitress, perfecting the fourteen tables’ worth of adapted persona-per-customer? I could just get a dog, of course.


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