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Metaphysical Acting for Supernaturally Good Performances
by N J Howell
Hi. I'm Neva Howell. Welcome to my free Online Acting Class for the Spirited Performer - A Metaphysical Approach to the Craft of Performance Art in Films, on Television and on Stage! I'm glad you've come and hope you will find something of benefit during your stay here.
For as long as I can remember, I've had at least two twin flames of passion in my life. I loved the creative process and I loved feeling connected to All That Is. Even before I had words for that feeling of connectedness, and before I was on a conscious spiritual path, I only felt truly alive when I was involved in one or the other of these passionate dances with life.
I didn't consciously understand how my love of performance art (in particular acting), connected with my desire to stay connected to Universal Lifeforce Energy. I came to see though that the energy that inspired acting that moved people was the same energy that came thru when I prayed or was in a spiritual ceremony and could feel the presence of the Divine.
The connection was harder to find for me because the spark of divinity within the creative process was obscured by a role model who felt television and movie performers were scandalous. Honoring the connection as Sacred was also a challenge for me because the film and television industry seemed to focus a lot more on celebrity and fame and the bottom line than the ability of performance art to elevate, uplift and transform.
Putting the Pieces Together: It wasn't until I started teaching acting and watching the transformation of my students that it became apparent that "acting as if" is one of the grandest and most enjoyable ways to practice transformation. Safe behind the character, an actor can try on as many lives as he or she cares to try; try them on full out and with fearless abandon with no fear of negative repercussions in the real world. What an exciting tool for exploring consciousness!
On the other side of that was, of course, the audience. The intimacy and inspired connection I felt with the audience during a live performance was a soul confirmation about how we touch one another's lives thru our passions and joy. In the early years of my love affair with acting, I just looked for a juicy role. Later on, as I began to walk a conscious path of spiritual awakening, I longed for roles that were significant at a spiritual level. Then, I was dismayed that movies and television didn't express much in the way of what could be called transformative art.
Thankfully, in the past few years, that landscape has changed dramatically. Michael Landon may have started it all with Highway to Heaven back in the 80's but Hollywood was very slow to catch on to the reality that people want to see transformation in the world of films and tv. Now, there are almost more shows to reflect this than the ones that don't. Touched by an Angel lived as long as it did on tv because of it's message; a message of hope, of personal responsiblity, of connection with the divine in a practical way on earth and of faith. That show would probably still be on the air today if Della Reese had not decided that her job was done there. Following those pivotal television shows came movies on faith including the massively popular "Passion of the Christ" and "The Davinci Code". Can you imagine a movie on that subject snagging Tom Hanks as lead even 20 years ago? Now, we are bursting at the seams with all sorts of shows (some that came and went fast but still left their mark) exploring the paranormal, supernatural and spiritual worlds.
Medium, Ghost Whisperer, Moonlight (yeah, as interesting an exploration of the dark side as I've ever seen), Pushing Daisies, etc. Of course, I think most of those are off the air now but they had great runs and as one show goes, another seems to take it's place.
One season, I saw a healer on Grey's Anatomy (by the way, great job by that actress; she is either a healer for real or did a lot of really good homework for that role). Eli Stone is another example of how the tide has been turning on what shows up on tv and at the theatre. Wish that show was still around. Elementary is cool and all that but I miss my Eli. Thanks for movies and television shows like the ones mentioned, as well as the emergence of Spiritual Cinema online (a movement spear-headed by Stephen Simon), spiritual filmmaking has become hot. Thank God.
I assume you've found this page because you may have wanted to explore acting from a metaphysical perspective? If so, you might be interested in this free online acting class. I call this technique "The Power Connection" because the purpose is to connect with something more powerful than the mind or ego self, and let that Higher Consciousness inform your work as an actor. Ready to jump right in? Here's the first lesson on metaphysical acting
Acting Resources: There are no requirements as far as books go, for taking this class. However, I highly recommend On the Technique of Acting and To the Actor, both based based on the work of Michael Chekhov. I had already been a professional actor for some time before I came across the work of Michael Chekhov and was astonished at the spiritual and metaphysical principals inherent in his writings.
I remember hearing Mala Powers (an actress who studied with Michael Chekhov extensively) relate the story about when Michael was playing a man who saw a ghost on stage, in some play or another. There was no character playing the role of the ghost; it was entirely imaginary. Yet, after the play, audience members described the ghost and asked who played that role. This story gave me goosebumps. Chekhov had made the ghost so real for himself that the audience members saw it. I consider Michael Chekhov the father of metaphysical acting.
Stage Fright a problem? Read about the hypnosis for stage fright program here. One thing that personally helps me release the fear is to go onset or on stage before the performance, if possible and sort of "meet the environment". I touch chairs, tables, lamps, etc. and create a tactile memory of them. I see the set as support for my best performance and surround myself with friends in the form of carpet, drapes, flowers, paintings, furniture, etc.