Take a Few Days Off to Settle Your Brain (or not)

I have absolutely no scientific data to back up the following claim. But for me, it seems to work this way. Sometimes, when you take a little time away from something, it (whatever it is) seems to gel better in one’s brain.

My tangible example is when I lived in Vietnam, and I spent month after month trying to learn Vietnamese. Then I would leave for the states for a couple months in the summer, wondering if I would end up forgetting what I just spent a whole year learning. What I found was just the opposite. I returned from 2 months of not thinking about Vietnamese at all to suddenly feeling like I knew it better than when I left. It seems illogical.

I chalk it up to perception. The time allowed my brain to settle what I had already learned, so when I re-arrived in the country, I felt happy that I didn’t forget everything. It seemed easy to jump back into it. I always felt encouraged and ready to go, happy to start my learning again, refreshed to take it to the next level.

I was reminded of these feelings recently as I decided to give my drama team 5 days off even as our big show approaches. We had complete run-throughs this past Monday and Tuesday, and then we took a break for the long Thanksgiving weekend, as our next scheduled practice is a double one on Monday.

Before we left after our Tuesday rehearsal, I told them this: there are two kinds of actors (I was really just making this up even though I think it’s true) 1. the kind where a few days away from the memorized lines will actually help settle everything  on the brain. If that’s you, go and enjoy your break and be ready to work on Monday. 2. The other kind is the actor who continually needs to remind himself or herself of the lines. Even a couple days away from practice will make you forget some. If that’s you, keep working the lines daily and be ready for  Monday, I said.

I guess I will know on Monday what kind of actors I have and whether the break will hurt or help them. Either way, we have a show in a week. Let’s hope they are like me when I was in Vietnam.

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