Hitchhiking, Acting and Metaphors


Hitchhiking, Acting and Metaphors

Admittedly this took several attempts, searching for the right metaphor and then wondering if there was a point in one, as well as deciding whether the experience wasn’t too personal to share.

Perhaps life experience is like a road (yup, you can pretty much see what I decided to go for on the metaphor front, blame it on Kerouac), you’re driving along it, it’s dusk and you’re making decisions about where to turn next, picking up hitchhikers, and though the decisions are constantly being made and re-made, and the car indecisively turns left and right, circles through roundabouts, sometimes over and over again - when you look in the rear-view mirror - it’s the seemingly same unchanging horizon and maybe a few specks of people left behind. But then you shift your gaze and see that oddball you picked up ages ago - sitting in the backseat, looking at you and absorbedly telling you about their trip so far, maybe you’ll drop them off at the next stop only to accidentally bump into them in the next town, maybe they’ll go with you all the way, or perhaps you will never see them again. You look out and see cars driving in the same general direction you are and some drivers are focused on the road, some are deep in conversations with their passengers, others would give you a glance and smile, and maybe you’ll meet at the same roadside cafe, have a chat and decide that both of you dig the same sights and smells, so might as well travel together. Sometimes you have dozens of people in your car, sometimes you are the hitchhiker going along for the ride, sometimes you’re not going anywhere. This is really as far as I can stretch this metaphor.

This week I did a five day ‘Get into Screen Acting’ course at ‘The Actors Centre’ lead by Caroline Webster, finished off by Sarah Hughes. It’s hard to explain it in words, unfortunately. The three day course I did in the summer and now this turned out to be more of an emotional experience and, really, I’m lacking the vocabulary in that area to do it justice. It was delightful to meet all these fascinating, very different people, who were clearly passionate about what we were doing and good at it too. Which kind of pushed me to at least try to not fuck up badly and I think, as a strategy, it worked. I’m not delusional, I need practice, lots of it, but it feels like a good start.

Lens awareness, breaking down scripts and using action verbs to define the character’s motivation is all fine and cool, but it’s easy to tell when it’s working and when it isn’t. When Zoe’s character confesses to choosing the wrong person and you get goosebumps and you’re still feeling them on the fourth take; when Lizzy’s character realizes she’s broken and you want to rush in there and console her; when Rob’s soldier doesn’t want to go back to war; when Emma’s character doesn’t want to go back home to her abusive partner; when Adam is rejoining Murder Squad; when Lucas is struggling to make a decision about euthanasia for his father; Ollie; Kate; Tom; Travis, Marta. Suddenly you feel like you’ve been given permission to participate in their ‘personal’ experiences, and these are very real emotions that you are witnessing and it’s very hard (and pointless, really) to fight the urge to empathise. And from that point it’s easier to say ‘fuck it’ to the almost conscious decision to not show emotions in public - and be annoyed, be scared, scarred and broken if you need to and explore all these curious characters you can be and yourself as a part of them.

And then finish off the week with a pint and a pleasant chat at a pub, wondering, if, perhaps, you are all hitchhiking together, with different horizons in the rear-view, but very much the same idea of the city ahead.