There had been a war raging in my brain since we started this process. Let me break this down for you all.

I recently finished directing No Exit, a major part of my senior capstone, and I am also taking Westminster’s Directing class. Directing fuels the analytical side of my brain. I love being able to pick things apart and dissect the intricate details of a piece of theatre and then putting those pieces together to create a complete picture. I am feeding and exercising that section of my mind since the beginning of the semester.

My analytical brain, or as I have been calling it, my “director brain” is operating at full capacity as of late.

Great?

No.

Here’s the problem.

There is another part of my brain at full capacity: my “actor brain”.

My actor brain is geared to only one part of the script, one character. It focuses on one tactic, one goal, one piece of a character arc, and one emotional state at a time rather than the whole play. While acting I isolate my character to that specific moment in time to try play the scene truthfully.

If I try to think about the whole production while in one scene things get a bit dicey performance-wise and I begin to pull out of the moment.

The difficulty lies in shutting off my director brain while in rehearsal, though it still kicks in from time to time. When it does kick in I begin to analyze blocking and relationships and I start to think about how the scene I am in will transition to the next and by that time I have fallen completely out of character and have to start again from zero.

My mind is in a constant battle to right the ship and neither side wants to give up control to the other.

There is a definite mental shift that has to happen. While doubling up on rehearsals (yes, I was rehearsing my cast alongside rehearsals for A Midsummer Night’s Dream) I was making zero progress with my character for this show.

There was one rehearsal we had for Midsummers after a No Exit rehearsal that was quite interesting.

I finished with my cast and sat down to do some table work and as soon as I hit the chair I was able to, somehow, completely shut off my director brain. It was like I had just fallen into a giant, comfy recliner. I have not gotten that feeling back yet, but that’s what I am aiming for.

Focus on the task at hand rather than focus on someone else’s task.