Is bullying taking over your life or the life of someone you know?
Do you wish you had the personal skills to handle situations that arise and stand your ground?
You may have explored therapy, self defence classes, personal development, or some other avenue, and you may have had some success. If you fall into this category, congratulations. It’s important to recognize and applaud your own efforts to take control of the situation. But what if in spite of those efforts the bullying continues?
I’m Michael Franklin, Actor, Writer and Director. I’ve written about bullying, I’ve made a comedy film about it, I’ve lived it, I’ve witnessed it, and I’m against it. I see too much of it going on, in offices, in government, I even see countries bullying each other. Of course, it starts as early as school and these days it’s online too.
What I’m about to share with you is not the first thought that comes to mind when thinking about how to deal with bullying.
In my Acting classes, which are aimed at those who are Actors or who would like to enter the profession of Acting, students find themselves in improvisational situations where they are encouraged to ‘call’ the behaviour of their fellow actor working on Stage with them, explore how they are feeling about it in that moment, and express themselves emotionally. That’s what an Actor should be capable of, right?
Right. But there’s a side-effect to this. A positive side-effect if you will. The students become more Emotionally Intelligent. They begin to see through the conflict on a deeper level. Session after session I watch proudly as my students learn their way around conflict and handle themselves admirably; sometimes not so Admirably. But it’s a class. They learn from it. And it’s a safe, non-judgmental environment where they are encouraged to develop and grow. They return next week and do better. And when they step off the stage, they let it go. It’s forgotten.
This is easy to do because we’re dealing with imaginary circumstances. It’s very different when the emotional investment is longer and deeper. But here’s the interesting thing. The brain has the ability to suspend disbelief in imaginary circumstances and ‘act’ as if the situation is really happening. The emotions can engage just the same under imaginary circumstances as they would in real-life situations. And that’s how many Actors can perform so believably, something that is essentially a figment of a writer’s imagination.
Turning that argument on its head, the benefits learned in coping and acquitting ourselves under imaginary circumstances are skills that are transferable in real-life situations. The courage to overcome our natural timidity, reticence, inability to stand up to the bully…call it what you will, transfers over.
So will any Acting class do, or is this a testament to the work we do? Well, actually it’s a testament to the technique that we teach, its uniqueness, its simplicity. As someone who is and has always been against bullying, my classes are conducted in a manner very supportive of each individual’s journey.