When I was a repressed, gossipy, manboob of a teenager I was frequently taken by fitful bouts of an unfortunate kind of hysteria. Usually resulting from prolonged exhaustion or a fever, I would lose all connection to reality in a tormenting rage. My ability to communicate, out the window; my grasp of acceptable behavior, gone. These maniacally twisted departures usually left me in a lonely, savage pile of convulsion, emitting vulture, pig and wolf noises. My friends, who bore the brunt of these fits, started calling me “Freakdog”. Soon my family embraced the nickname too, especially my aunt Marge who once suffered real physical harm when Freakdog, in the final stretch of a midnight Monopoly marathon punched her arm in a frustrated, competitive plea, “please let me win!” The freakdog does not think. The freakdog just does.
This behavior was justly condemned and I mostly regret these outbursts from my youth, and especially inflicting them upon others. As a result I had to learn to suppress the freakdog.
Among friends “freakdog” evolved into a syndrome, a term for anyone‘s overt expression of repressed inner impulses, not just mine. To act like a freakdog is to rendezvous with the base parts of oneself, to abandon social constructs; to freakdog is to go wild, to be questionably human, to let go.
As an acting teacher one of my goals is to help my students find pleasure in their actions. I try to create a safe place where they can lend their bodies and their voices to the will of intention. This is not always easy–we live in a society where pleasure is often condemned. Many students are terrified what will happen when they begin to use their voices and their bodies–when they start doing. I imagine for many of them it’s almost as if an inner freakdog is taking over.
Through provoking my students to action, I am learning to love my own inner freakdog in the process. Freakdogs do, for the immediate satisfaction of doing. In freakdog mode, there is no space between impulse and action, there is only joy, the most promising source of energy for any performance.
I am hereby devoting my life to befriending my freakdog, and unleashing the freakdog in others. Instead of stuffing, suppressing or disabling our freakdogs, we are better off learning how to provoke and tame them. Similarly, I am determined to help the next generation embrace their pleasure in performance.
With much love and gratitude for reading,