When actors first begin to learn the ways of acting, most are deathly afraid of out-Heroding Herod, of o’erdoing it but most are in no danger of that. Most beginning actors suffer from this second issue – they are mostly too tame, usually out of fear of being the opposite. This continuum of o’erdoing it and tameness strikes me as very similar to the concept of Jung’s Shadows. The tyrant is afraid of his weak shadow and the weakling is afraid of his inner tyrant. Our timidity comes from fear that our inner tyrant will stalk out and start o’erdoing it. Our robustious tyranny is born from fear that everyone will see our weakness, our tame pussy cat within.
In watching young people learn acting, almost everyone starts on the timid side of the spectrum, afraid to stick out and be seen. And usually there’s just one or two that o’erdo it, that go too far, that when they play anger, go storming loudly round the room. But one or two of those is enough for the rest of the group to fear becoming that very thing.
Teaching, then, for a little while becomes about delicately handling the brave little tyrant, about encouraging everyone’s little tyrant out of themselves, letting them all go too far before teaching them how to reign the tyrant in.