Monday, November 19, 2007

RCMP Training

In the 1970's when I was a peripatetic stage actor I worked all over the country with the exception of the Maritimes. Over the course of a few seasons in the middle of the decade I worked at Globe Theatre in Regina several times.

At that time The Globe had an arrangement with the RCMP Depot to provide actors who were comfortable with improvisation, one male and one female, for a domestic crisis intervention course. The last 2 classes were spent in role playing various situations that the rookies might encounter when they arrived at the door. The instructor was a psychologist named Gary something-or-other. I probably did this 4 or 5 times over the course of a couple of years. (It was sought after because the fee was very good and stage actors don't make a lot.)

Here's how it would work: Gary would select 2 rookies who would then leave the room and wait in the hall. Gary and the remaining rookies would choose a scenario and we would all talk it over until we, the actors, had a reasonable handle on it. Then Gary would holler through the door to the rookies telling them to knock when they were ready to start. They would knock and we would be off to the races.

These role playing classes often became very physical. It was always a good idea not to wear your best clothes. Both sides gave as good as they got most times. Especially when some young guy straight off the farm didn't think women could be violent or that they needed to be watched. I remember one big actor back then who took exception to the way a rookie was dealing with him and tossing him against the wall pretty hard, winding him. Every now and then there wouldn't be an actress who wanted to participate so we would send two guys and the scenario would become 2 gay lovers having a fight. Those were especially fun.

But the lesson was always about how the rookies could have handled it better. How they could have defused the situation better, how they could have used the skills they'd been taught in not only this class but in their conflict resolution class as well. How they could have avoided the physical confrontation.

Somehow I don't think classes of this kind are being taught any more.

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