Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Update on Life

Well....

So......

Like.....

Yah.....

I'm glad we got that out of the way. Now onto updates.

I am off the Street and currently back in Minneapolis with el hubbo. Both of us are in the developmental stages of our respective careers. The stage where people keep asking "And...you are.....?" when you know exactly who they are because you've seen/auditioned for/talked/worked with them several times already. My current career goal is to not have this happen more than once a month. It's a good step.

My most recent and interesting job is probably working for the Barbara Schneider Foundation. I'm hired as an actor to act (woah!) in scenarios that help train employees who work with the mentally ill. This means nurses, security guards, prison guards, and even administrators who might come into contact with volatile individuals are trained in how to deescalate people without having to use force or restraints, but instead use empathy and listening. I get to be the person they're deescalating (along with several other actors who are in different rooms. Each of us have a different story/scenario.) We do these enactments about 10 times so everyone gets a chance to see or do each one. It is not easy. I have to jump from a depressed cutter to a violent, angry, suicidal/homicidal to a bi-polar teen with delusions. I enjoy the work, and I've learned a ton, but at the end of my first day I was exhausted.

It's not like a play where you have a gradual build in the tension before it finally explodes. You basically start at 100% intensity and go to 150%, and do it for four hours. And you have to be really mean to nice people who are scared of you. And while I love being able to do something so far from myself, I'm not strictly performing-I'm interacting, and there's a part of me that feels so sorry for some of these sweet, shy people I'm freaking out. The other thing that's hard is actually being told to do things you're not "supposed" to do. Like swear, kick things, scream, and mock peoples' race/weight/religion/age/sex, etc. But people with mental health problems or personality disorders either don't know or don't care about a lot of that, so part of this is to train people to deal with the shock that comes with someone throwing all kinds of profanities and insults at you without getting angry yourself.

Now I was about to write "my job is sometimes to be horrible to people," but it's not. I think it's much more than that. My job is to teach people how to develop empathy with those who are not easy to communicate with or be around. And if they do show me that they care, part of my job is to "reward" them by calming down, or opening up a little, or letting them come a little closer physically or actually listening to something they say. It's not easy-especially the mean and vulgar part of it-but I think it's worth it if I can help people learn important skills and principals for when they deal with actual, real people like the ones I'm portraying.

On a lighter note, le hubie et moi will get to work on the same film next week. It's a low-budget feature being shot in MN called "Statue of David." I have 3 lines! YEAH! I'm playing a trophy-wife! YEA-WHA? Yah, I was pretty surprised that they'd have me, a quirky best-friend type, in that role, but I'm not complaining. I guess having boobs is finally useful after all. I didn't just write that.

Well....I'm tired of writing now, so this post is done.



7 comments:

Kristina P. said...

That sounds very interesting. When I interviewed for my current social work job, I had to interview a teenager who used to be a client. It was a great way to see how to respond and react.

The Former 786 said...

Yay! The return of Happy Laughter!

Wow. That job sounds IN-TENTS! (intentional misspelling for comic effect) I'm feeling guilty about having to make an unsuspecting stranger feel slightly uncomfortable tomorrow for an April Fool's joke - you're full-on FREAKING PEOPLE OUT! Impressive.

Thanks for posting, Laurel. It's good to hear from you again.

estev said...

They can also be used to incubate premature babies. Of course nowadays they just use a machine;)

Flora said...

I like your job :D I bet you can do it extra well when you're having a bad day! haha

I don't think you should feel bad about the people you're "freaking-out". You're actually helping them... Do they know you're an actress and not a real loony?

Kim said...

awww... but sometimes it's fun to use the Force on kids... it doesn't actually work but it makes them stop crying cause they're laughing.

The Fab Miss B said...

Wow- the mental health performances sound grueling. And remind me of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer has jaundice but is wishing for "a meatier role". Keep up the good work lady!

Fast Fancy Dress said...
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