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Playing it angry.

Illustration of Othello and Iago
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Two weeks ago in my Peer Helping microskills group, I was asked to create a character to roleplay for this week – an angry individual coming into the Peer Helping office (where we do counselling work). Other helpers had been wondering what to do in such a situation, and asked for some experience.

Being the theatre student, I agreed.

Now, I’ve been trying to limit my mindwork this past week to necessary schoolwork and Iago, because those are the top priorities, but this angry individual kept coming back to me. I made him someone whose relationship was growing more distant, his girlfriend spending less time with him, and while she wasn’t cheating on him, he had just found out she had lied about where she had been, the past weekend, and he didn’t know why she felt she had to do that. And he was afraid that if he brings up the issue, that would become the break-up talk. But if he doesn’t bring up the issue, then he can’t trust her, and without trust, what does a relationship have, really?

So, stuck between two awful streets, he’s left to ponder the inevitability of his losing the woman he loves. Why wouldn’t he be angry? And while he’s not violent, there are hints that he could impulsively lash out, like cornered creatures do when there’s no good option left.

So I performed it, improvised his love for his Marie, his anger (complete with F-bombs), his tense physicalization, his defensiveness, his pain. And it got me to thinking about my own relationship with anger.

I used to be an angry person. AKA – grade 5 and earlier, I was downright miserable, much of the time. But I had a transformational moment, dramatically and intentfully changed who I was over the course of a couple of years, and the anger faded. Sure, I’d still get frustrated from time to time, but no volcanic activity. Well, not much.

I can think of two definitive times in my life when anger took control of me. One, was a punch to the shoulder. Another time, in grade 12, I grabbed someone by the throat and shoved them down into their seat. Yeah. Me. I know. Only two times in the past 20 years, but they are enough to make me, well, fear anger, and try to avoid it as best I can. So this exploration was interesting, to say the least.

(for the record, immediately after the throat-grabbing incident – which really was like some outside force had taken control of my body for that split second – my knees nearly gave out and I apologized profusely, terrified at myself.)

But I can play that angry individual, if I choose to. Because I know that side exists within me, even if I don’t ever let it come out. Because, as a good little Christian, I believe that there exists in everyone the possibility of committing the very best good deeds, and the very worst evils. I look to imitate the best of us, and I sympathize with the murderers, because, with a few different, terrible choices…

Villainous thoughts, Roderigo. Pish.

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