Sunday, 16 January 2011

Are you an inny or an outty?

Most people fall into one or the other: introverts or extroverts. If you're an extrovert, you need excitement and stimulation and are usually seen as the life of the party. You find introverts shy and recessive. If you're an introvert, you're happiest on your own curled up with your favourite book or napping (if you're a cat), happily existing in the intricate tapistry of your inner world. You find extroverts bossy and loud and obnoxious, and well, frankly - immature.

In case you didn't pick up on the bias... I'm an introvert. I am happy as a clam on my own. When I'm around other people I put on an act. It's still me, but louder and more engaged. Let me tell you: it's exhausting. I've tried just being "myself" but then get plagued with questions: "Are you ok?" "Are you feeling peeky?" "Are you bored?" or the worst one: "Are you angry?" No! I'm not angry! I can't help it if my face takes on a rather stern set at rest. I was disciplined a lot in childhood - it's made me rather serious minded.

So I try and make an effort, meet people half way: relax my jaw, take my glasses off, relax the permanent coil, try to be... more chilled. Like a nice Italian white whine on a Summer's day. "Are you sleepy or something?" No! I'm half blind and you all look like a blur to me!

This is probably why - as a rule - actors tend to be extroverts and writers tend to be introverts, with musicians nicely divided between the two. (I have made this up but it seems right, doesn't it?) And here I am, an introvert, trying to be an actor. Why go through all the trouble?

Because as an actor you are rarely yourself. Oh sure, you build the character on familiar ground, it's you but it's not you. A bit like channelling. You become a conduit. Something else takes over. Are you still with me?

I'm not saying you become possessed, I'm just saying that something in you relaxes, let's go of the steering wheel and trusts the navigating to someone else. It takes some trust, but then, if you like your character, it's like a best friend, you share everything. Or if you prefer it's like being hypnotised: you're fully conscious but not in charge.

But there is a catch to this reasoning, because acting is 10% well - acting - and 90% business. And when it comes to networking introverts don't stand a chance. Imagine a room full of people and not only do you want to talk to no one, you don't even want to be in the same room as them, every molecule in your body is screaming at you to run away, and thanks to the great training you received at drama school, you couldn't hide your feelings if your life depended on it and everyone can read what you're thinking as clearly as if it were printed out on your forehead. And even if you slap on a hat, they'll be able to read it in your eyes...

Not only that but I am Pisces. Do you know how few A-list stars are Pisces? They're all Leo or Libra... or something starting with an L, but definitely not Pisces. Too recessessive, too dreamy, too nice...

Did you notice? I made a big leap there from "actor" to "A-list". I'm not sure there is a bridge between the two. Except my own Ego.

So maybe anyone can be an actor, a few of can be very good actors, and some will become A-list. A bit like life really. Some of us make good human beings, some of us become saints, and others win the jackpot.

It's a kind of lottery. But be honest, if you could choose for yourself, would you rather be an innie or an outtie?

No comments: