Tricking the Brain to Play Part One

It’s no small feat to innovate. To create. To get yourself into the mind-set of that kind of thinking, that kind of play. I think it is especially difficult for the average citizen, particularly in business or science or academics, to create, to play.  Much of the time these types are about importance and seriousness. To switch into that creative mode, that reckless disorder that is play, is not only extremely confronting, but downright hard. Actors have a hard enough time with it, and that is what they DO. Few stop to realize that the thing we go see in a theatre is actually called, a “play”. A play. To play. Actors in a play, furthermore, “play a role”. We play our roles in a play. Playing is all over theatre, where we play like children play, where we adapt roles with no judgment, playing for playing’s sake. Play. Kids can snap in and out of play in a millisecond.

Adults have a much harder time. As a matter of fact, most acting training is about “getting out of your head”. The definition of “in your head” being that you get “out” of the kind of thinking that has you judge what you are doing while you are doing it, as opposed to having the feeling of “non-thinking”, or being in the “zone” or living in the moment. This is the feeling of “just being”, or purely intuitive, playful thinking. Actors also learn to “stay in the moment”, as opposed to thinking about what you are doing and that you are doing it while you continue to play the role. This, it is believed, brings about a more natural acting,  portraying the way people really are, being in the moment.

This has always made me laugh a little, because it supposes that most people are acting naturally very present in real life and not acting in a measured, “in your head”, kind of way, when in fact, most of us are trying to be in the moment in life but are measuring it far too much as we go along, as well. The voice in our head is there most of the time, so to speak. So good acting, would be where you are trained to “be in the moment” about playing someone in a real way, which would be someone who is “thinking while they are doing” the whole time, as most people do. You would train to be in the moment playing people pretending to be in the moment but probably aren’t.

OK, so the meta of this goes on, and unfortunately I enjoy it. So. But. Anyway….

Creative people and actors and business people and scientists, as well, all have to do one thing when it comes to playing. They have to trick their adult brain into doing it. They have to “give it up”,” it “being all that holds them back. They must decide that they are going to trust themselves and be vulnerable to the idea of tricking their brain into playing, and then they have to actually trick their brain into going into that state of play. For actors, the training is Meisner or Impromptu or Method acting to find various ways to trick your brain into “playing”, or playing a role. For artists it may be the setting, a proper studio, meditation, toys around them to inspire play, etc. There are many ways, but once again, the first step is to make an agreement with yourself to have the courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to go into that state. Then you have to start, to SNAP into that mode, putting aside all self-judgment and really committing to the silliness or sound or movement or thought or inappropriate feeling or weirdness and then allow that to BE. Just for a while. To really commit to giving your A.D.U.L.T. self over to FucKInG AroUnD! To turn your brain inside out for that crucial creative time, to snap, to trigger, to trick your rational self into giving up your rational self.
It is kind of like rolling on molly, or smoking weed, or drinking a bunch of tequila.

You know you are going to put yourself into a mind-altering situation, but you trust yourself enough to experience it, and at least at the time, judge its social value as being great enough for the temporary loss of self-control, the loss of self-judgment. It is the temporary alleviation of social convention and thinking that causes you to retain inhibition, which is merely self-judgment brought to the “action” of preventing you from action. Drugs and alcohol release that. So does play. That becomes an endorphin high, a being “in the zone”, and the feeling of not remembering things like, say, a great presentation or a standup set or an art project because it went so well. It’s a state where we are reminded of the phrase, “time flies when you’re having fun!”. Time flies because your analytical side isn’t keeping track of or processing the concept of time. It’s too busy playing.

You have to first DECIDE to do that, and then actually trick your adult brain to give it up and go there.

Ways one can practice this skill set, because, like acting, it is a learned skill, are numerous. Some are easier than others, and some are more confronting than others. All of them have this in common, once again, to trick your brain into a state of play. Of creation. How to do that and the methods and thinking and behavior thereof, is mentioned a couple of more times in this damn book.

2 thoughts on “Tricking the Brain to Play Part One”

  1. I liked that you compared real life against the philosophy of creating and how that voice is present most of the time. It emphasizes how truly uneasy it is to “get out of your head”

  2. I started improvising scenes when I was about 5 years old. But, it was easy because all kids do is improvise when they play. It’s that damn growing up that makes most of us have to remember how to play.

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