You know what I really hate?

Jeff Watkins

We have all heard it, and I am sure many of you have even said this once or twice. Heck, I know I have said it myself some years back… *cough*. I have heard it many times within the domain of theatre where rivalries, jealousies, back-stabbing and gossiping can often develop in unhealthy levels. It was one thing i could never understand. Why so much negativity?

In my experience, when someone says “You know what I really hate?” or one of the many derivatives that co-exist today, that they are usually about to complain about someone else, or a situation which they can’t do anything about. Often fuelled by a sense of unfairness or inequality, they confess a type of obsession with the fortunes of others, or their own misfortune. People have told me that this is human nature, but I wish to challenge that point of view.

It is a reality that many people choose to harbour negative feelings of envy and competition, and it is emotions such as these that an actor has to construct as a part of their character development. I have played many characters that expressed hatred in some form toward something or someone. Hate is not a nice feeling. I have slowly moved away from hatred seeing it as an emotion I don’t need. Yet it is something that can not be totally avoided.

In a similar way that fear is a reaction to discomfort, so is hate. When we see someone getting something we want, we feel a pang of emotion, envy or desire. When this feeling strikes, we have a choice to make; to covertly desire or openly appreciate. I see most people choosing to covertly desire, and because in most situations we can’t have what we observe, we have an emotion that cannot be satisfied. It becomes frustrated and negative the more we focus on it. At least, that is how it was/is for me.

I challenge the concept that this is human nature, or a natural reaction. This is a chosen reaction based on what people have learned, and the good thing with a learned response, is that you can retrain it to be something else. I believe I have and I am no-one special. I am just like anyone else. If I can do it, so can anyone else, and I have quite a few that have.

I have little room for hate in my life. I am not wasting my energy on things that I cannot do anything about anyway, and I can’t really understand any serious actor wasting their precious energy in this way either. Don’t we have a hard enough time just trying to remember what character we are mean to be?

Again, like fear, hate comes from an energy which I can invest in things that can actually get me what I want. A shrewd businessman will not invest money in something he can clearly see will go no where, so why should I invest my currency, my energy, on a dead-end emotion, albeit reaction? It makes no sense.

InFramedColouredHate, fear and expectations have a lot in common. They are all restrictive, and sap energy. They can cause us to think irrationally with often undesirable results. I have no place for these negative emotions when I am playing a character, other than those of my character. If I let personal feelings in while performing on stage, I lose that connection, forget my words, or worse, start laughing on stage!

And you know what I really hate? Negativity… Oh, and mosquitoes. That high pitch buzz just gets to me.

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