One-man theater and the world usually are extra profound, laughter-filled locations as a result of Brian Copeland wrapped his fingers round a script as a substitute of a gun.
After 10 tense, horrible days in 2008, the award-winning Bay Space-based actor, comic, writer, playwright, tv and radio speak present host turned the expertise into “The Ready Interval,” the present’s title a reference to the 10-day necessary interval he endured whereas ready to accumulate a gun with which to kill himself. Wanting again in 2023, Copeland says in an interview that each one of his one-man exhibits are about one thing in his life.
“I did 20 years of standup, which was all about laughing, straight leisure. It was snicker, snicker, snicker and LPMs (laughs per minute). It was enjoyable, however there was no depth to it. After I wrote ‘Not a Real Black Man,’ I believed that may be my solely present and it was a fluke.
“I used to be booked for six weeks, and it exploded and ended up turning into the longest-running one-man present in Bay Space theater. I bought a brand new profession. That present was about racism, redlining, racial identification and the emotional toll to a toddler rising up in that surroundings that an individual has to take care of as an grownup.”
His second present was “The Ready Interval,” which is in regards to the despair that led him 15 years in the past to the brink of suicide. Copeland will carry out the work Sept. 8 on the Piedmont Heart for the Arts as a fundraiser for Household Sanity, a nonprofit based by former Piedmonter Lisa Scimens that gives on-line psychological well being sources for fogeys of older teenagers and younger adults.
Scimens initially contacted Copeland hoping he’d go to and provides a discuss despair, however he had a unique concept: “I stated, ‘Heck, fairly than coming to do a chat, why not do the play? Reasonably than discuss ‘Ready Interval,’ why don’t I simply come and present ya?’ ”
Scimens was intrigued by the thought and Copeland says he’s happy to current the 70-minute present in a theater house that may permit sound results and lighting. Afterwards, he plans to conduct a uncommon question-and-answer session with the viewers.
“I often don’t try this as a result of I’m so emotionally drained (after the efficiency),” Copeland says. “As an actor, I’m going to one of many darkest locations in my life. It’s gotta be actual for me to ensure that it to be actual to the viewers.
“That’s why I usually solely do the present sporadically, like as soon as each couple of weeks. Doing the preliminary run of it, I used to be doing it each evening and it was consuming at my soul. The darkness began to tug me again in.”
If breaking silence to speak with somebody about his despair was key to his restoration — and he says it was — exhausting work and establishing new self-talk habits had been key parts. Like many individuals throughout COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, Copeland leaned closely on survival mechanisms to beat back waves of despair. He recorded a 2020 podcast sequence, “Beating the Demon,” sharing ideas that helped him really feel higher in three-minute clips.
“The shutdown was the worst. Even individuals who had by no means handled despair earlier than handled it because of being locked of their houses for a yr. COVID positively fed the beast. Folks advised me they’d been down earlier than however by no means to the depressive state the place they had been within the depths of despair.
“They’d felt that approach for months; not with the ability to see their pals, to stay the lives that they had constructed. The world turned extremely small. The worst factor that would occur to despair was COVID and that shutdown.”
Popping out of the shutdown, he was agoraphobic. Coming into the theater for the primary time after two years, he was nauseous. Simply driving on the freeway to get there had stuffed him with anxiousness, however again on stage, he stepped into character and located his footing. Copeland says that with extra folks having now skilled despair, stigma in regards to the situation stays however is fading.
“Folks don’t really feel so embarrassed or like social pariahs as a result of they undergo from this illness. They’re extra open to discussing it. That’s the entire level of ‘Ready Interval:’ to inform somebody. If I can arise right here and spill my guts to strangers, you possibly can inform somebody you’re having ideas that aren’t in your greatest curiosity.”
He says his sense of urgency comes from private expertise and a conviction that silence is killing folks.
“No one wakes up someday and out of the clear blue sky decides they’re going to shoot themselves. They’ve been making a plan for a way they’re going to do it for days to weeks to months.
“In the event that they’re capable of get assist and speak to any individual, it saves quite a lot of lives. In the event that they’re afraid of how they’re going to be checked out or thought of or in the event that they’re going to be dedicated someplace, they hold to themselves till it’s too late.”
When the dimmer swap darkens his house, an analogy Copeland makes use of to explain encroaching despair, he finds somebody to speak to earlier than an entire “blackout” happens. A each day observe he diligently maintains entails intentional gratitude.
“After I get up, earlier than my foot touches the ground, I’ve to consider three various things I’m grateful for. It’s simple to say, ‘Oh, the children, home, job, like a mantra. The trick is to dig deep, to consider stuff you actually are grateful for: It’s raining; I get to see my granddaughter this afternoon; my daughter came visiting and visited and made me snicker. It helps as a grounding mechanism.”
Not like his exhibits by which every transfer and each phrase are tightly choreographed or scripted, Copeland says he’s a piece in progress. Amongst knowledge he’s gained is consciousness and appreciation for a way humor sweetens tragedy and drama makes laughter deeper and longer. He says the older he turns into, the extra he’s conscious that he’s “by no means carried out” and finds power to pursue discovery.
As will be anticipated, Copeland is exceptionally busy. Till the Writers Guild of America strike slammed on the brakes, he was working with Rob Reiner and Castlerock Leisure on a streaming model of “Not a Real Black Man.”
Whereas persevering with his “Copeland’s Nook” podcasts and performing “The Ready Interval,” he has written his first crime novel, “Outrage.” Printed by Black Odyssey Media and slated for a Could 2024 launch, Copeland says his long-term plan was at all times to be a author of crime fiction. Spoken by a person now not on the point of ending his life, the phrases maintain the promise of a vibrant, tears-and-laughter future for Copeland and for all.
Lou Fancher is a contract author. Contact her at [email protected].
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