The Elements of Great Acting
Module 1 in the Spiritual Psychology of Acting Course
The Spiritual Psychology of Acting is a systematic body of organic, practical knowledge, comprising of Ten Elements.
The knowledge and skill set relating to each of the Elements is assimilated through an understanding of detailed theory, and specially developed practical technique exercises, to give you the essential tools you need to thrive and succeed.
During this module you will also learn the true qualities of a great actor, with clear definitions and practical guidance on how to develop each of them.
Each session starts with our unique meditation, along with reflection on the words of great artists and philosophers on the nature of the Self. This is to remind us of who we really are and bring you home to your own true Self, the source of all creativity.
What will I learn?
The Ten Elements of Great Acting
The duty of the actor is to observe human nature, without criticism…
The first step to learning how to be a great actor is to develop this most enlightening quality of Awareness, the ability to observe your own thoughts. In other words, to make your subconscious, conscious.
There are two reasons why the actor needs to develop Awareness -
- You need to be able to see and understand your own patterns of thinking, in order to make sure that your own actor’s thoughts don’t get in the way of your performance. For example, your own need to be liked or impress the audience, or the crippling burden of self-doubt. Both of these only serve to kill your spontaneity and diminish your creative freedom.
- Developing greater awareness of the workings of the subconscious will provide you with invaluable material out of which to create believable characters. This way, the choices you will make will be from real life observations, of yourself and those around you, rather than from the superficial renderings that we all too often see in much of today’s theatre and film acting.
You are a walking laboratory for the study of what it means to be a character, therefore, the first character that you will learn how to analyse is your own.
By analysing how your own character formed and the relationship between your own conscious and subconscious thoughts, you will develop a deeper understanding of what makes you ‘tick'.
This knowledge will provide you with a clear frame of reference to truthfully create the inner life of any character.
Life is a continuous stream of inner and outer objects of attention…
To create a character truthfully requires the actor to think the character’s thoughts and thereby feel the character’s emotions.
In this part of the course, we will look at the different types of attention (inner and outer, voluntary and involuntary), and how they work in the context of acting.
Most importantly, you will learn powerful techniques to develop the quality of your attention, allowing you to think whatever you choose to think, rather than being a prisoner of your own subconscious.
This knowledge will not only allow you to be fully present while performing, it will enable you to be fully awake in the play of life.
If everyone wants to be happy, how come so few people are? Have you ever wondered what really compels you to do the things you do?
Although often misplaced, every human purpose is essentially a desire for happiness. Behind every action, our purposes are the wants and needs that drive us.
In life, much of our own essential programming and conditioning was established in childhood and has now become mostly subconscious. Therefore, to act truthfully, the character’s purposes should be of the same quality.
During this topic, we take a detailed look at the four types of human purposes (natural, egotistic, egocentric and shadow purposes). You will learn how they form, how they manifest, and how to spot them in yourself and others.
Most importantly, you will learn the technique of programming and embodying purposes at will. This is a complete game-changer, for both acting and everyday life.
Causal thoughts are the bedrock of the psyche, the essential building blocks of the subconscious.
Our self-image is the fundamental, usually subconscious ever evolving relationship we have with ourselves. It is who we think we are. It holds the psyche together and influences every other thought in our minds.
At the base of every mind there are fundamental ideas, which we call images. These internal images describe our relationship with life, other people, love, money, sex, happiness, etc, and most importantly, our relationship with ourselves.
These thoughts initially form in childhood, in response to the events and situations we experience, and then accumulate and modify throughout the journey of life.
During this topic, we look in great detail at causal thinking and learn priceless techniques to discover and review our own causal thoughts. You will then learn how to create and embody them to create any character.
Feel the rhythm…
Every thought carries a unique, resonant vibration. We’ve all known people that exude bad ‘vibes’, even when they are pretending to be nice. How do we know? We feel the vibration of their thought.
During this fascinating topic you will learn how to enhance your sensitivity to thought vibrations and allow the various rhythms of the characters thoughts and feelings to naturally manifest through your body and voice.
Freeing the Body of Tension
Relax. Take a deep breath. It’s alright!
There are two types of physical tension; natural tensions - the ones that allow us to simply stand up and move about, and acquired tensions - the physical manifestation of thoughts and feelings.
On the journey of training to be an actor, the first port of call is to discover your own natural posture, natural walk and natural voice.
Having freed the mind and body of acquired tension, you are ready to fully embody the character and allow the character’s tensions to manifest themselves through you.
Imagination is the art of thinking in pictures…
Most of our thoughts come in the form of pictures, seen in the mind’s eye. For example: What did you have for breakfast today? What colour is a London bus? Who is the president of the United States?
Did you see the pictures?
In life, most people are usually unaware of the fact that they think in pictures. However, for actors, imagination is the very substance of our art.
During this topic you will learn the different types of imagination (active, passive, free and forced) and learn how to sharpen your imagination, using detailed data from all five senses, along with the sixth sense, which we call atmosphere.
A complex forms when two or more thoughts join together
For example, if I ask you what your banking pin number is, you will see an internal picture of the four consecutive numbers and also hear them sound in your head. Behind this thought is your whole, unique complex related to money. How much you have, the name of your bank, the picture of your bank card etc.
During this topic you will learn how complexes form and work in life and gain the knowledge of how to create rich complexes for the character. This allows your words to be completely believable and potent with deeper meaning. This will captivate the audience, without them knowing why or how you are doing it. It will just look and feel real.
Events and Inspiration
Every play or film is about turning points in people’s lives…
The narrative of a play invariably draws the characters into some kind of unexpected and significant circumstances, beyond the mundane experience of their everyday lives. We call these changing circumstances events.
During this part of the course, we will look at how events work in life and learn how to put yourself under the psychological events of the character.
It is the actor’s professional responsibility to be in a state of inspiration. In this element, you will learn about the phenomena of inspiration, from both a spiritual and psychological perspective. You will find out why and how it arises, and most importantly how to put yourself into a state of inspiration for auditions, rehearsals and performances.
Actions are expressed as verbs, but not all verbs are actable actions…
Whilst a purpose is ‘what I want’, an action is ‘what I do to achieve it’. Every physical action is the outer manifestation of an inner, psychological action.
In this part of the training, you will discover how to observe psychological actions in yourself and others, and learn the techniques of how to truthfully act any action on demand.
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"Within a week of completing his course, I booked my first role in a television series (24). John is easily the most effective acting teacher I have ever worked with. I use his techniques every time I work, and find his ideas to be a continuing source of inspiration."