Unless you consider running, striping, changing into a different costume while putting minyak angin underneath your eyes to force yourself to cry for the next scene for a high school drama competition, I only started acting in September 2007. Even then, I had so much trouble getting in touch with my emotional self.
People always say, "So you act. That means you can cry on cue."
Well supposedly. Sometimes. I can.
But when you have a whole bunch of stuff to think of (like your lines, blocking, cues, moments in real life to relate to), it is a whole different story.
Most of the time, I blame it on culture because we were taught to shut up in class, we were taught to stop crying when we're in pain, and etc. In other words, suppressed. I remember when my mum and I were in NYC watching Next to Normal (and amazing musical, highly recommended to watch), I was bawling because I was so damn touched by the music and acting and even when I wasn't crying because I was touched, I cried because it was so damn beautiful. Who would have thought that a musical about bipolar syndrome would be interesting, it certainly changed my life. Back to the story, I remember crying and laughing at the same time and my mum who sat next to me just stared at me as if I was insane. She slapped me on the thigh and then nudged me again whenever I sobbed or laugh out loud.
I guess after spending two years in a theatre department learning to express myself, I quickly adapted the 'laugh if you are happy and cry if you are sad habit'.
I am taking a directing class this semester. One of the assignments was to create a silent music scene. Meaning, you have to justify why your characters don't talk, and of course, it being a music scene, we had to look for a song to fit the scene.
My scene was about a boy leaving his girlfriend to join the military (sounds familiar?)
Although we only had one short rehearsal, and I didn't know what the heck I was doing because directing is completely new for me. I thought I was pretty satisfied with the scene and my classmates understood what I was trying to portray.
After the scene, I was placed in the middle of the room for a Q&A session with the rest of the class. I admitted that the hardest thing to do as a director is to not tell the actor to do something, but to guide them to do it. Although I had so much connection with the scene because I was literally living it right now, I had extreme difficulty telling my actors what I specifically wanted out from the scene and what I wanted the audience to feel. I didn't know how to express myself!!
My professor asked me a few questions to help me answer my own questions to justify my scene. And somehow, I got choked up while I was explaining how I was feeling when Jeph left for the Navy and what it felt like to know that I don't even know when would be the next time I will see him again.
I broke down. It was like reliving what happened when when Jeph came to see me in NYC and seeing him leave for good. I remembered watching him turn his back and running towards his cousin's car after he walked me home, looking back at me again before getting in the car, gosh, breaks my heart but I know that I'll have to support him in his decisions.
From an acting stand point of view, great. Now use it.