When I went to drama school, for all of five minutes, I took away many things. A broken heart, some dear friends, a drastic dip in self-confidence and a very special piece of advice. Advice that this period of time spent in isolation has made me realise is very special indeed.
In Shakespeare’s theatre, actor’s were called players. It makes sense really, to play is to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose. Though you could argue that acting is a profession and rather serious, at it’s core, it is merely the ability to play, within a character, on a stage or in a rehearsal room. Actors are very good at releasing inhibition and just playing. At drama school the advice that I was given to ensure that this freedom to play never drifted away into adulthood or the mundanities of everyday life, was to keep a picture of myself as a child. A picture that represented a period of time when playing was second nature. Children are acting all the time. ‘Ok you be the doctor and I’ll be the patient’. ‘No Mummy! I’m a sheep, not a dog’. Seeing this picture every day is a way of igniting the inner child, connecting to an innate desire to play.
Throughout this period of isolation, I have noticed how disconnected I have become from that inner child. From the sense of play that lives within our unconscious mind. I’m referring to a concept that has many different uses, meanings and lines of thought. Within psychotherapy the inner child is a key to issues one may find in adulthood, this is not the inner child that I’m addressing. Rather the inner child that encourages impulse, intensity of feelings and a freedom to behave in a way that does not reflect the status quo.
If like me, you’ve gone home to isolate, you may for the first time in a long time be living with your parents, siblings, friends or pets. Sleeping in your childhood bed, dusting off board games that you played when you were ten. Though the world’s wearies are heavy at present, in this bubble of ‘home’ you may be able to connect to that child within, with greater ease due to the predicament that we find ourselves in.
Boredom when you’re a child is something to over come with fun, not by ticking off a to-do list or watching Jamie and Sophie from Made in fucking Chelsea doing each other’s make-up. No, boredom is the beginning of adventure. When you’re bored as a child you build a den, you climb a tree or you play dressing up. When you’re bored as a child you make a snack and take it outside to eat in the sun. You go to a place faraway in your mind, that’s filled with magic and anything you can find. So, why not play with your siblings again? Gymnastics in the garden or movies in a duvet den. Perhaps you feel silly, or you still have a job to do, well kudos to you! But, why not try when you do have the time? When that first pang of boredom strikes in your head, do something childish and silly instead.
As a child, feelings are usually 0 or 100, with anything in between just echoing your normal state of being. As a child, when you feel something, you really feel it. So, if you’re feeling frustrated, scream, have a tantrum, kick your legs and pound your fists. Who cares? You’ll feel great afterwards. Obviously there’s loads of adult things you could do instead but, I’m sure we’ll have to go back to doing those things when we all get let out again. You know like ‘go for a run to blow off steam.’ Christ, the thought of it actually makes me want to scream. We’re human, we need an outlet, and as a child that outlet is to yell and cry and kick the fuck off. But alas, we’re told that it’s unacceptable and ‘actually Becky as a 25 year-old-woman you probably shouldn’t be melting down in the middle of isle four because you’ve had a shit day and now there’s no fucking pesto left, so could you get up and stop wailing? You look crazy.’ Well, we’re all at home now, with no one but our family, who are forced to endure us no matter our behaviour, so, kick off! The same can be said for when you feel happy, or proud, or in love or overwhelmed. Free yourself of the restraints that society has put on you. Cry when you laugh. Give compliments freely without shame or embarrassment. Be proud of yourself, be proud of other people. Do a really funky dance when you feel good – and please Becky, keep doing it once we’re back on public transport. Why, the, fuck, not? Connect to your inner child and listen to what they would do.
The inner child is also full of creativity. A box is never just a box. It is a rocket ship that can take you away from this corona infested planet; to the moon, or mars, or even the stars. The sofas are boats passing in the night, ready and raring for a pirate-ship fight. Clothes are the key to a three act play and music is the portal to dance moves you didn’t know you had up your sleeve. The house is an endless array of opportunities to play, for that cheeky child that lives within.
Find a photo of yourself, from all those years ago. Looking so small and innocent, impossibly distant from who you are today and just focus in on how you used to play. Finding it hard? Why not use your mattress as a sleigh, to slide down the stairs Princess diaries style. Make up a song that makes no sense. Play outside, stare at ants or make a daisy chain. If you can’t go outside MAKE THE FLOOR LAVA. Irritate your parents and play with your siblings. Organise a zoom where you show up as someone else and you have to impersonate them for the duration of the chat. Absolutely anything goes when you look at the world through the eyes of a child.
Perhaps it’s something to do with being home. Or the lack of ‘real life’ tasks and responsibilities. It could be because I have more time, to fill with games and adventures of the mind. It could be the comfort of knowing that I’m not alone, all in the same boat, chatting over the phone. Perhaps it’s because I’m not having sex, my virginal naivety rearing it’s head. Whatever it is, I want to remember this time, when I connected to the tiny child inside.
That feeling of play, instinct and impulse not yet tainted by the rules of the world. I want to take her with me wherever I go and maybe even scream in the middle of Tesco.
For some delicious inspiration of how to flex your imagination – please check out my gorgeous friend’s latest project by clicking here.