By Mellonie Page
I said I would tell you about Tallulah and how she helped me face some of my fears. Rewinding back to working with Black Mime Theatre Company, the ensemble.
The year is 1994.
Dense Wong, the director, had a reputation for exercising demons. She saw your limitations; made you face them head on, until they were vanquished.
It was known as the Black Mime initiation. My issues were:
1. Lack of eye contact
2. Inappropriate laughter
3. Fear of intimacy onstage
Outwardly, I appeared confident, shiny even. I knew I was talented but was generally good at masking shyness and anxiety.
It’s natural to feel uncomfortable onstage. Not all of us feel at ease performing on stage or being the centre of attention.
My character had to kiss my onstage boyfriend and trace my hands around his body.
We didn’t even get on with each other off-stage! I was mortified, so embarrassed about finding ways of doing this in front of a room of fellow performers.
We were devising the play, creating it from scratch together to tell our stories. This was my story.
It was about a whirlwind romance that went sour and negatively impacted my life for years to come.
Denise knew it was timidity and fear that partly caused my issues. I’m not saying that this kind of exposure is helpful for everyone, but it helped me over the hurdles I faced at the time.
It was enough to get the job done in the moment. I was afraid of exposing myself in the telling of my story, afraid my laughter and awkwardness might turn to tears, scared of letting go of my inhibitions.
Singing was my number one talent, so she said I should sing a song while facing my stage boyfriend. I should perform it over and over again, looking at him in the eyes, whilst exuding the raunchiest performance.
This was highly uncomfortable for me. His instructions were to sit in front of me, maintain eye contact, and only move back if he felt something.
He gazed at me for a long time. I laughed out of embarrassment and then composed myself.
The first song that popped into my head was My Name is Tallulah (Bugsy Malone).
I sang that song like my life depended on it, until I was sick of it, willing him to move back, dancing, swaying, until I rushed to the loo to throw up, come back and start again.
By the end of the process, I didn’t have an issue looking at my partner in the eye or any other cast member.
Tracing my hands around his body seemed like nothing now and in the more harrowing scenes, I learned to detach myself.
I used the time I spent creating and performing as a cathartic (healing) process.
Tallulah was my turning point, my boundary line. Never again would I cross this line as an actress.
I became stronger after this trial by fire and knew what I would and would not tolerate in the future, on or off the stage.
Audience members would divulge their relationship experiences with me, from ‘Land’s End to John O’Groats’, as my dad would say.
I eventually had to learn to detach mentally and find a way to take on the role without trying to delve too deep.
I was new to method acting, which was more about tapping into real feelings than pretending to be someone else.
Exposure therapy is a way of dealing with your fears head on; something you can do alone, but the help of a professional is the better option.
They can walk you through the process using baby steps and utilising tried and tested methods. Seek out a therapist if you need help.
The problem with vanquishing demons alone is that you may run out of steam, think they have gone only to return later, or you may not have the correct weapons to fight them and keep them away.
The time you take dealing with them alone could also be curtailed by a professional. The trained eye has another perspective that can be helpful to a client.
Hypnotherapy is another method that can help you heal, accept change, grief, and loss, gain confidence, motivation, stop smoking, stop procrastinating, manage weight and many more issues.
I am a qualified Hypnotherapist, registered on the National Hypnotherapy Society’s accredited register.
My member number is HYP20-00788. Mellonie Williams Cert HYP CS.
I am based in Nottingham and can work with you in person or online.
I am a lecturer, I lead creative and performing arts classes and workshops, I am a singer/songwriter and recording artist. I have a BA Honours Degree in Contemporary Arts. Like & follow Mellonie Page Music on Instagram and Facebook.