Updated: Apr 13, 2022
For this week's blog I wanted to talk about something that has been at the forefront of my mind for the past week, something that I haven’t really sat down and fully tried to navigate since being at school. My dyslexic brain! Over the past week, Steph and I have sat down to read over 300 play submissions, a daunting task for anyone but especially someone who sometimes finds the words moving positions before their very eyes (a fun magic trick that some dyslexic people can experience at the most inconvenient of times).
I like to navigate life pretending that my dyslexia isn’t a thing (again another dazzling trick) but I have realised throughout this week how much of a disservice I was doing to myself by pushing myself to function like someone without dyslexia. I created many moments of what I would like to call “tumbleweed brain”, I also made double the work for myself and it all culminated in an accidental two hour power nap. After this disastrous nap, I realised I needed to take my foot off the gas, step back and reassess… I needed to ask for help.
I asked for extra time. It was nerve racking but… NO ONE CARED! I could breath again and I could take in the wonderful submissions that we were reading at my own pace. It benefited everyone as I was now able to do my job to the best of my ability. So, this is a reminder to anyone who processes things differently whether you are in an audition or rehearsal, wherever. Don’t be afraid to ask for that time to process; people want to see you do well as it makes their lives easier.
This was the number one point that freed up any panic from last week, but below I have also listed other things that I did to help me along my way. Whether you are dyslexic or not, I hope these will help in calming your brain a bit:
I got up and walked/talked all the scripts (my partner came in and helped with some of the readings, he is not an actor so I am eternally grateful for his time with things like this). Dyslexic people are visual, verbal and kinaesthetic learners. So moving and talking when taking in new information can really help cut through the fog. This benefited me as when it came to later rounds, I could recall the scripts quicker. This is my biggest tool for learning scripts as well: get up and walk the text, make it fun and not a chore.
I then went on and listed what I needed to do. Apparently, dyslexics find it hard to get from A to B in the right order, we go A, Z, R and then finally onto B (as annoying as this is, it does mean that we often find ourselves in creative jobs). So listing can help stop your brain from jumping all over the place and you can focus on the tasks at hand. I do this when self taping too. I have a go-to list of the steps I need to take, from character work, through to learning, then onto set up; otherwise I find myself having deep discussions about the characters’ world and never actually learning anything.
Another tool that technophobe-me asked for help with was changing the colour of my screen. A well known fact is that different colours can help with processing for people. I like darker colours to read from. This is another point for anyone auditioning and reading sides on the spot. Take an overlay, a see-through coloured piece of plastic, and read the text with that on top. Chances are, it will make you feel calmer, and, no, no one is judging you for doing it! Another thing I like to do with colour when auditioning is make sure I always rock up with highlighters. I use this to section off my scripts, how most people would pencil in beats. It was a game changer when I started to utilise this properly.
Last but not least, remind yourself to take breaks. Apparently dyslexic minds may come to a task refreshed but like a computer, as we work more and more tabs get opened and it slows down the workings. Non dyslexics might have two tabs open whilst we will have double. So it is important to realise when you are functioning with too many tabs open and to step back and breathe. This goes for learning scripts as well. Simply drilling it over and over is unlikely to get you very far, so remind yourself to move away and break it up with something else.
I hope my ramblings can help some of you out there realise that you are not alone in this weird and wonderful way of thinking; you can create tools that help you and people will (nearly) always try and help you out too if you need.