Tag Archives: Archetypes

The HERO challenge

The new sessions of The Acting Class began on Sunday morning, with the first of the six Archetypes we will be exploring – one per class.

What is an Archetype? Well, first let me acknowledge that everyone who works with some principle involving Archetypes will do it differently. I begin with John Wright’s Masks of the Archetypes approach, and then play with it my way.

You will do it differently. That is because Archetypes are just ways of being human, ways of recognizing certain ‘types’ of people, ways of recognizing certain aspects of our own ways of being. There is no such thing, in the world, which can be identified as being an actual Archetype, and there is no such person who can, either. You can be a hero, huntress, child, fool etc, but that just means you are manifesting qualities which are recognizable from our mutual idea of what we understand as Hero, Huntress, Child or Fool. These are ‘types’ which occur in the folk tales and songs of cultures throughout the world.

Batman is a hero, just as Hercules, Sigurd, Beowolf, Calamity Jane, and Cathy Freeman are all heroes, real or imagined. Actors are heroes (NOTE to our American colleagues, here in OZ we are non-gender specific with the word ‘actor’).

A hero is an individual who behaves heroically, or does something heroic, and thus we call him a hero, or her (more usually) a heroine. The Archetype, Hero, has become manifest in them, and we recognize the qualities of Hero, and so we call them heroes. Note where I capitalize, and where I don’t.

So, having spent some time on Sunday exploring the physical experience of embodying Hero-like movement qualities, I have challenged the class to practice the exercise, to spend as much time in the coming week in Hero body as they possibly can.

This morning, I went out for a morning walk, before the heat settled in. As I headed down through the streets of Milton, along Park Road to Coronation Drive and back up Cribb Road, I challenged myself to move into Hero movement qualities, feeling the power in my legs, finding myself looking up and out as I walked (instead of my customary watching the ground). My shoulders dropped back, my chin tucked in and I noticed the impulse for propulsion forward in space now very definitely came from my centre of gravity, which was slightly higher than usual, somewhere round the solar plexus region.

It felt pretty good, I can tell you!  Then it lapsed, and I had to focus to regain the sense of equilibrium, it drifted, I brought it back – and then I realised just how much this way of working is analogous to Fitzmaurice tremoring. Just as the tremor is the body’s response to being placed in an impossible dilemma – the muscles begin to shake, and the breath flows in and out at its own pace – so trying to embody an Archetype is an impossible situation, brain and imagination struggle to make sense of the task of achieving an impossible goal, the body responds as best it can and then the magic happens…

The moment you feel LIKE a hero, it seems as if you’ve lost it. Here you are, all Heroic, and yet you’re being asked to do something absolutely ridiculous like hop on one foot, or remember and speak lines. You feel insecure, the only thing you are sure of is that you are ‘wrong’. In fact, you are absolutely on track, because what you feel is what your particular Hero is feeling, i.e. ridiculous. But you want to be Heroic, and sensible, and so you feel embarrassed, even a sense of failure. WOW!!! How cool is that? A hero who is embarrassed, who feels like a failure?

Your task, now, is to keep working to become more and more familiar with the physical movement qualities, to practise BEING in those qualities (just as you would practise speaking in a new language, or a new accent, if you want to become really skilful with it). I’m sitting here at my desk, realising that I am slouching, so I’ve now drawn up my spine, acknowledged my handsomely ridged brow, strong nose and firm mouth, my furrowed cheeks and my cleft chin, and Boy, am I going to defeat a few evil armies before bedtime?

Of course I shall.



Filed under performance, performance skills training, techniques and exercises, theatre, workshop

The fate of June Bloom

There are some pretty cool tools out there on the world wide web, including Wordle, which creates a 'cloud' from text you enter into it. Following the example of Canadian actor Kris Joseph http://www.krisjoseph.ca/, I extracted all of June’s lines from the script, and entered them into the Wordle. Here is my cloud:

Wordle: The Fall of June Bloom

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“Deep Voice” is coming to The Acting Class

Just back from my trip to the States, I managed to sleep from 8 pm till 3.30 am, so here I am…

And I am inspired!  So much rich inspiration at the VASTA Conference in New York, catching up with the work of Kristen Linklater, Catherine Fitzmaurice and Patsy Rodenburg,(in workshops) and Arthur Lessac (4 weeks short of his 100th birthday) gave a totally wonderful, political and joyous Keynote speech. He actually danced down the aisle to receive his Lifetime Honorary Member plaque!

I collected my copy of the latest Voice and Speech Review, dedicated to “The Moving Voice”, and an article by Marya Lowry has reminded me just how far our voices will take us, inwards and outwardly, if we allow them the space and size of our imaginations. So –

Not only will be working on our Archetypal qualities, physical and vocal, but they will be HUGE. We will be playing with some of the lamentation work I did with Marya six years ago, Frankie Armstrong’s Voices of the Archetypes and the Roy Hart work I have done with many wonderful teachers and performers over the years.  There will be much laughter, and many adventurous explorations.

And in a day or two I will report on the performance of The Fall of June Bloom which I gave at the conference with my amazing co-actors, John Graham and Micha Espinosa.  Suffice it to say, for now, that it was very well received…

See you Sunday week!

June Bloom at VASTA

June Bloom at VASTA

Jerome (John Graham) and June (Flloyd Kennedy)Jerome (John Graham) and June (Flloyd Kennedy)
watching Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

watching Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

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Catching Up

You’ll be pleased to know that the Handouts page now contains fully working links to all the handouts!

Just a reminder, class continues until – and including – 15th June.

The new class begins on 13th July, and runs for 8 sessions.

For those of you who couldn’t make it today, we discovered a new variation warming up the voice-in-the-body exercise:

After thoroughly warming up via Core Mechanics and the full-body stretches and floor work, plus a bit of Fitzmaurice scrunching and tremoring on the floor, we worked with the image of the centre filling with sound from the well of sighs. The centre encompassed that part of the body nestling between pelvis and diaphragm, and between the small of the back leaning into the floor and the top of the belly – a lovely large area to play with, and to fill with sound. When full, we let the sound flood downwards, but actually flowing upwards through the thighs, through the knees and then down through the lower legs into the feet, and thence into the floor. With the lower part of the body now full to squishing with sound, we rolled and turned and made our way to standing. Once standing, feeling the weight of the fully sounding lower body pressing into the floor, we let the sound flood upwards through the rest of the body and down the arms.

Next, we opened out to each other from our centres, and shared the ‘mmmaaaa’ sounds with each other, noticing the giving and the receiving of sound. We used the 4, 8 pattern thus:

Mmmaaaaaa mmmaaaaaa mmmmaaaaaaaa mmmmmaaaaaa

ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma

nnnnnaaaaa nnnnnaaaaaa nnnnnaaaaaaaaa nnnnnaaaaaaaaaa

na na na na na na na na

rrrrraaaaaaa rrrrraaaaaaaaa rrrrraaaaaaaaaa rrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaa

ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra

ssssssssss ssssssssssss ssssssssssssss sssssssssssssssss

ss ss ss ss ss ss ss ss

shshshshsh shshshshshsh shshshshshsh shshshshshshshsh

sh sh sh sh sh sh sh sh


Then we turned it into a version using





We worked with the notion of giving specifically to one, or to another, sometimes one sequence of sounds, sometimes a group of sounds to the same person, trying to catch ourselves losing energy, or focus in between, and noticing how much more fun it was to keep the energy up between each section, to always have somewhere to put it.

We also worked some more with Practical Aesthetics, and clarified the difference between those aspects which are relevant to the character, and those which are relevant to the actor.

To put it briefly: The literal translation of the moments, the literal sentence describing the beat, and the want, are all about the character. The want should give you some ideas for Actions, but the Actions and the As If’s are to do with you, the actor, the person who happens to be playing the role. But they are NOT derived from, or interpreting, or playing with the scene.

The Character wants something from the other character/s.

This is like getting someone to do x

Getting someone to do x is

As if I were getting someone specific in my life to do some specific thing in real life, which hasn’t happened yet, but could, and it excites me to think I could actually get them to do it, so I am going to GET them to do it.

Playing with the As If is NOT playing the scene.

If you can learn to trust the process to this stage, you are ready to discover what happens in the scene, but before this discovery can happen, you must let go of trying to play the scene. Instead, you play your As If, and the scene plays itself.

Too Easy! (Joking…) Actually, it is easy, or at least easier than you think. As Mara discovered, it’s not multi-tasking at all, it’s doing one thing at a time, i.e. going for your cap.

N.B. I did not say ‘getting your cap’, I said ‘going for your cap’.

Compare this with working with Archetypes. You manifest Archetype qualities, knowing that you will never, ever ‘be’ the Archetype. You play with the qualities in your body, you let the qualities play you. You stay clearly focussed on the Archetype, knowing that you will touch upon it, and then lose it, and then aim for it again, and again, and again….

See you Sunday


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