Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Playing the bully - scary and thrilling.

Today my job was to be a bully.  I had to hector, harass and abuse a person in a subordinate role.  This person was going to seek advice from me as a the experienced person who had been identified as their mentor.  In the situation, it was the right thing for them to approach me with questions, but after the encounter, they would have been left disillusioned at least and perhaps traumatised at the most.

On one hand, it is thrilling to play roles where extreme behaviours or emotions need to be portrayed.  It allows me to explore the edges and the depths of what is in me.  It's always an interesting experience as an actor to confront the shadow self and discover the nature of your own darkness.  I also have some experience of bullies and call them up to borrow their behaviours and turn of phrase.

After playing this role repeatedly over the course of the day, I found myself snarling at other people involved in the simulation.  I had to consciously pull myself back.  As I walked down the street, people moved out of my way.  I knew the power of a look - I'd caused people to leave the room I as in just by looking at them.  This is an extremely compelling power to discover.

On the way home I had some errands to do.  I noticed a staff member arguing with a customer in much the same tones I had been using all day.  Again, I had to pull myself back and remember that I was no longer in role.

The reactions of people exposed to the character I am playing interests me.  If I heard someone behaving like my character I would either walk out or ask them to go away.  I would most likely ask them for their name and find a way to draw their behaviour to the attention of someone in authority.

Then I would wonder who their leader is and what messages they have sent that has created this kind of behaviour.

The saddest thing about this character and the scenario within which I am playing it is that she is based on real life experience.  It's exhausting being this person and I noticed that my face looks different - harder, tenser, angrier - when I arrived home this evening.  I immediately washed the character away in the shower.  I know that I have to step into her skin tomorrow.  I'm glad that I can step out again at the end of the day.


  1. Wow! Interesting work you get to do. Be careful though! Surround yourself in white light before going into unpleasant characters so you can shake them off more easily. You sure don't want them getting a foothold in you. You're far too lovely! I couldn't stand it! <3

    1. Thanks for your concern Cat. I'm not worried - I'm playing a role, so I don't have trouble getting back to me - even if the step back is a big one!

  2. Sounds like you've had a very interesting day. Wouldn't the world be a much nicer place if all the bullies could just wash it off when they got home?

    1. Great thought Merryn - although if they could wash off the bully , I wonder why anyone would put it on in the first place?