How my life changed (Part 1)

Most life-changing events are spectacular and dramatic, they involve a near-death experience or some other sort of drama, mine was nothing like that. It happened in a well lit studio in the Gaiety School of Acting and nobody apart from me realised what had just happened. In late 2013 I was enrolled in the part-time performance year at the Gaiety School of Acting and I was working on a monologue which I would then show to the class at the end of the term.

Before I started training as an actor I was convinced that I couldn’t do intense drama pieces so my teacher chose a very intense piece for me to work on. I can’t remember the name of the play but it started with my character facing his abusive father. My character had tied him to a chair and was telling him about all the shitty things that he had gone through. I do remember that the monologue ended with “Now I don’t need to cry anymore, because now it’s your turn to do the crying”. Anyway, intense stuff.

I had built my character as well as I could but was having trouble getting into him. I could show the emotions externally but I wasn’t “feeling” them.  My teacher, Clare Maguire, asked me to do the monologue again, but this time surrounded by all my classmates. As I started my monologue, she had them slowly creep in to where I was, creating a very claustrophobic feeling.  Then something happened.

I was overcome by these sensations that were clearly not mine. A feeling of anguish, rage, despair, longing and so much more filled me and completely overtook me. I was no longer me, I was this desperate man, trying to reach out to his father while wanting to punish him.  It was terrifying and fascinating at the same time. Once I finished my monologue I was in complete shock, tears were coming to my eyes and I didn’t know why. It was the first time I had truly “acted”.

It was a moment that moved me and scared me. I wasn’t able to perform that monologue for the next couple of weeks as I was so scared by what had happened to me. Once I was able to process it and do it again, I knew I couldn’t not be an actor. I knew deep down that this was going to be a big part of my life from then on but I wasn’t aware of just how big it would become.

My first reaction was to want to drop everything immediately and chase this dream. However, after talking with many people wiser than I am, I realised that I still had a long way to go. But from that day my life had already started to change direction and a new category was added to my budget which was called: “Acting funds”.