Saturday, May 23, 2009

Crying on Cue

One of our actors has an audition for a television role coming up.

"I'll send the sides over," said the casting director. ("Sides" is casting-director-speak for "bits of script we want the actor to read at the audition".)

"In one of the scenes she has to get very upset and cry a lot - do you think she'll be okay with that?" said the casting director.

"Oh yes," I said. And I wanted to say - in the famous words of Yosser Hughes in the 1982 television drama The Boys from the Black Stuff - "Gissa job. I could do that."

My emotions are always - er - readily accessible. In other words, I laugh very easily and I do cry easily too.

A lot of the medical roleplay work I do requires me to cry. There's no point in just crying in a roleplay because you CAN, but often it's useful as a teaching aid, because many healthcare professionals find it difficult to deal with a crying patient. Often they won't tackle the tricky topic that is bothering the patient, because "I didn't want to upset her". Well, d'you know what, she's upset already, and sometimes she might want to talk about it - - and if she doesn't, that will become obvious too.

Often the tears are genuine and this is hard to explain. A couple of days ago I was playing a patient with postnatal depression and the student midwife who was talking to me was brilliant. I was playing a woman who had split from her partner and who was living with her mother and her mother's boyfriend and it was all much less than ideal.

This student midwife was so kind and caring that my eyes filled with tears. As I said, it's hard to explain - - Daphne wasn't upset. Daphne was thinking "Wow, this girl's brilliant". Julie, the character I was playing, was in tears. And I know before you say so that this sounds as though it's pretentious crap, but honestly, that's how it works - it kind of works on two levels at once. The situation is fictional, but the emotions are real.

Sometimes, however, my brief is to get very upset but I'm working with a student who is just keeping well clear of any emotions - and yet I need to give them that challenge to deal with. So I have to find a "trigger" that will make me cry and here I will shamelessly plunder anything that does it.

At the moment I'm using the Communist's singing. Not that his singing was so bad that made me cry, you understand - he had a fantastic baritone voice of operatic quality and still sang at any opportunity right until he died last December.

I can still hear his singing voice in my head: but I know I won't ever hear it again. That makes me cry. So when I need to cry I just think about that and it works every time. It's making me cry now, writing about it. I think he'd be pleased about that.


Anonymous Milo said...

It's good to be in touch with your emotions. Too many people in this country adopt a frigid, emotionless exterior (even with family) - it's good that you can be yourself. Life is for living, highs lows - laughter tears.

1:32 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

At televised sentencings in our courts, the convicted is expected to show remorse in order to receive a lesser sentence. Observers become huffy to the point of outrage if the convicted fails to do so. If you're ever in that situation, you'll be out in no time....

But I suppose it's a pretty sad commentary on how easy it is to manipulate people.

2:22 pm  

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