Have you ever done that team-building thing... "the human knot?"
So there I am, sitting in class, minding my own business, while the professor talks about how our voices are all defined by the environment and the personality we have, and that each person's voice is unique and has indescribable qualities to their own ear. I couldn't help but wonder if maybe I had wandered into a group counseling session or maybe an environmental ethics class. I mean... "Environment and personality are two main roadblocks to the freedom of your personal voice." That's a therapy session if I've ever heard one. We may as well have done the human knot and said "This exercise also applies to the knots within your hearts about your insecurites."
Then, one by one, we read a paragraph out of a book while the other students listened and observed the unique qualities of our voice. We each talked about what aspects of our historical environment developed our voice into what it is. While most of the others seemed to find some sort of incredibly insightful discovery about how they speak with boldness or airiness because of their self-esteem as developed by their birth order, all I could say was "My family is a bunch of dorks that make weird sounds constantly. So, uh... Me too I guess?"
Insightful, I know.
As the class went on, I knew that this voice discovery thing was pretty important to my theatrical/professional/late-night-impersonations-with-friends life. After all, how am I supposed to convey meaning with words besides writing it all out? And heaven knows I'm not about to mime all of my conversations.
Suddenly, class has ended, and I found myself feeling rather, uhh, empty, or perhaps "heartsick." I began to think about this strange experience, and I made several new discoveries. First off, I'm incredibly insecure about my voice. Having my voice critiqued and evaluated was like having people walk into my bathroom after a really nice one and hearing them say, "Well, it's certainly resonant, and it has a lot of energy."
Here's the thing; I'm not very good at communicating clearly and concisely with my voice, and I know that. I'm much more apt to express with my face and my body, because they are universal expressions that everyone can understand. I don't have to try and clarify what THIS means:
On the other hand, there are types of thoughts that cannot be communicated without the voice and its words (insert citation from Delsarte's "System of Expression"). Being the clownish fellow that I am, I often find myself betwixt the sheen of expression from my face and the long-winded structure-less sentences of my daily speech. Basically, I have difficulty expressing myself concisely with words and clearly with my voice.
Another realization I had after class contained several fears: I'm afraid of not having a voice to be heard, and I'm afraid of getting lost or forgotten in the noise. Now, like most creative-types (I would guess), I do not like being labeled by others and confined by those parameters. I want to be free to be me and to break from any chains that tie me down to old patterns, past hurts, or current trends. Most of the time, I just want someone to listen to me and not feel like I'm wasting their time.
I venture to guess that I'm not alone in this, and after I talked to two friends about it, I found out that people will genuinely care about your opinions when you're vulnerable with them. You don't need to fight to be heard. You don't need to put on a facade in order to make your voice unique in the millions of noises in the world around you. All you have to do is feel free to be, and your voice is already there. It's just shrouded by a wall you've already put up, which means you have the tools to take it down.
When you act yourself, when you bare your true colors and ignore the comparisons and competition between individuals by realizing your own unique creativity, when you admit the truth about how you are to yourself, the empowerment you feel is stronger than the faith of a mustard seed. And I think we all know what mustard seeds do.
They make your buns tasty. ;)
Actor, Director, Editor, Producer