A BALANCING ACT. You just closed the show The Columbine Project which played to sold-out audiences at the Avery Schreiber Theatre in North Hollywood. It is such an amazing project which raises awareness to school shootings. You had a very demanding role as Eric Harris one of the two school shooters, and mentioned you used the ENERGIZE work I teach for this role. Tell us a little bit about the project, the play and how you got cast for the role:
How did you reconcile liking your character with what he did?
Collin: I think an actor can't judge their characters or they have already lost the battle. I did lots and lots of research and realized that Eric Harris was just a high school kid like everyone else except for maybe a few odd tweaks in his head, combined with some of the people he was around, and his environmental circumstance, leading to an awful end. Eric was indeed a sociopath, but I couldn't help but think what if I was born in his situation with his genetic make up? How would I behave? I certainly don't condone anything he did, but I could piece together where his anger evolved from. From there I think it just snowballed and became out I control. I still have a difficult time thinking about how he actually pulled the trigger.
What was the most difficult aspect of the role?
Collin: The hardest part of this role was to show that Eric wasn't just a monster, he was a human being who lost it, and made some terrible choices. Playing a villain can be easy because they are often reduced to being one dimensional, but this was a non-fictional complex human being that I had to bring justice to. He didn't just lose it in one day.
One of my favorite scenes in the play Eric is flirting with a girl, talking, just being a normal teenage boy, talking about maybe taking a trip after graduating to Costa Rica. Costs Rica was the first country outside of the US I had visited, and I've been there several times because my mom takes yoga retreats there, and it just struck a chord with me that connected Eric and I. I felt so much empathy for him while reading that scene because I knew he was so close to just living a regular life. That made it easy for me to embrace the role, but made the challenge of giving him an honest portrayal so much more difficult.
After one of the shows we had a talk back and an audience member thanked me for playing the role with no judgment, and that was the highest complement I could have received.
Did you find that the energy of this character would sometimes take over, and if so, what did you do to deal with it and regain control?
Collin: When I took on "The Columbine Project" as Eric Harris I knew I was going
to have to go to a very dark, dark place to get there, and I would have
to go all the way to the bottom because this was a story that needed to
be witnessed through truth. My first thought was you and
the training I had received through your workshops at VCU. I knew that I
had to be safe going in and out of a character like this and you
gave me that power by physically visualizing my character's energy,
giving it a color and bringing it into my body. Not only does this
achieve a safe entry into a character like Eric Harris, it provided me
focus and a complete comfort knowing I was always Eric while that energy
was in me. Doing this dissipated any nervousness converting it into
After collecting all my research and analyzing the script, the energy of my character became my top priority. I had to find Eric Harris' energy, which was absolutely frightening. Through the natural process of rehearsal, research, journal writing, and meditating I found Eric's energy and used your teachings to harness that energy with a color, bringing it into my 7 chakras.
Leaving this character at the end of each show was a must in order to
remain mentally healthy.
Through this particular energy, there was incredible power and confidence to be found within the craziness. That power was absolutely addicting and I had to use your technique to safely release that energy after every rehearsal and show or I would have been walking around like a nut, haha. In fact there was one day when I didn't release that energy for whatever reason, forgot about it, and I felt completely overwhelmed with life to the point where I began to cry. It's a little embarrassing to say, but it's a testament to how important it is to step out of character. Which I soon did, once I realized what was happening, haha. I released the energy, and brought in new pure white light which instantly calmed me. Visualizing Eric's energy as black with grey
speckles and a touch of white I took my time releasing that through my
body. After all of Eric's energy was drawn out of me, I cleansed my
energy system by bringing in a pure light, allowing me to become fully
present as myself.
I'm grateful for that day because I will never go without using your technique again, because it is so vital to take the time to step out.
The show just closed, did you do something at the end of the play for your personal closure?
Collin: When I released the energy every night I always hung onto an imaginary thread that connected me to the character so I could easily retrieve him. When we closed, it was hard to cut that thread for good. I smiled and said thank you and goodbye. Because even through Columbine was a terrible tragedy, good things have come out of it, such as "Rachel's Challenge," and through my portrayal of Eric and everyone's amazing performance I knew people would be more aware and understanding to the complexities that created such an awful thing, thus creating positive change.
Is there a future project you want to talk about?
Collin: I know that Paul has adapted the show into a screenplay and he just needs the right producers to jump on board to make it happen. I would love to be a part of that, but for now I'm just grateful to have been able to grow and give so much through such a meaningful story. Thank you Emmanuelle for allowing me to go to places as dark as I had to go and to return feeling like myself with such ease.
Through your technique and making it my own I have avoided
unnecessary stress, gained focus, and have brought a sense of honesty to
life that was unachievable before.
Emmanuelle: You are so welcome Collin! I wish you the best in your career. You are starting it with an amazing intensity, and I have no doubt you're going places!
For more info on A BALANCING ACT and the ENERGIZE technique, please visit www.emmanuellechaulet.com