ENTERTAINMENT, ART (AND SCIENCE)
Throughout history two fields in particular - art (and science) - have pushed our knowledge of what it is to be a human being - physiologically, psychologically, socially.
Often the two fields have influenced each other. This continues today as The Institute explores how Identity Development Sessions can bring new insight to the arts.
Perhaps one of the more important questions an actor can ask when approaching a scene is, “What is my character’s intention?”
The primary tool of an Identity Development session is the sentence of intention. The acting challenge, as developed by The Institute, will be to first explore the actor’s personal intentions at the very deepest levels, i.e., what do you want more than anything else in your personal life?
By asking this question and seeing what emerges in an I.D. session the actor begins to understand his/her identity from the “ground up” (from conception until the present).
These same tools that bring deep personal clarity from an I.D. Session will then be used to develop a strategy for embodying characters in a play, movie or TV show with layers more complex than ever possible before.
Most workshops and tutorials will involve a personal I.D. session, which is derived from “Identity Constellation” work as practiced in Europe. Here is a 15 minute edited version to clarify the I.D.s process.
The Acting workshop or tutorial will then apply the dynamics of the Identity Development Session to the process of acting, for example:
- to experience many of the most powerful emotions that sit just beneath the surface in all of us
- to catalogue the life experiences that have caused these deep feelings (both good and bad)
- to experience the ability to feel someone else’s emotional dynamics (resonating one of the words for someone else in an I.D. session in which strong feelings and thoughts surface)
- to understand that overwhelming feelings can pass through us and not be our own, which means they don’t need to traumatize us personally
- to learn to commit fully to becoming another person (a character) without losing ourselves in the process. This helps us become more fully ourselves (our most important challenge) as well as committing completely to safely playing someone else.
It should be noted that I.D.sessions go deep into exploring personal emotional issues, but they are not therapy nor a substitute for therapy. Nonetheless, they can be extremely powerful. We strongly recommend that participants work with a licensed therapist to help integrate the results of I.D.s into daily life.
It is also important to focus on body work - exercise, informed diet, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment and other forms of body healing, including Western medicine when necessary.
After Identity Development Sessions the Institute’s facilitator will be available by phone, if necessary, to help process personal material that emerges.
WRITING AND DIRECTING
Who are we? What do we really want? These two questions cut to the core of writing and directing.
How can we possibly understand what our characters want (as writers and/or directors), if we have not genuinely explored the dynamics of who we are (personally) and what do we (deeply) want? Do we lie to ourselves? Are we going after things that others want for us,? What are the consequences of misguided intentions? What are the narratives that emerge?
And what emerges when we genuinely know who we are?
Given cutting edge research and clinical work in trauma and bonding therapies and from discoveries in the “new sciences” of epigenetic and quantum mechanics, as well as from research involving indigenous healing, we have gained new tools to understand how human beings function and why.
One of the most powerful tools is an Identity Development Session using the sentence of intention.
The first step in using this tool is to apply it to oneself, exploring one’s own intentions at the very deepest levels, i.e., what do you want more than anything else in the world?
As mentioned above, I.D.s are derived from “Identity Constellation” work as practiced in Europe. Here is a 14 minute edited version of an Identity Constellation to clarify the process.
By asking the question - “What do I really want?” - and seeing what emerges you will begin to understand your own identity from the “ground up” (from conception until the present). You will begin to see the narrative of your life.
And, by using these same tools in your work, you may begin to intuit and then understand the narratives of the lives around you, refining your ability to create and bring to life characters and narrative in a plays, novels, movies and/or TV shows with layers more complex than ever possible before.
Perhaps most important - equipped with these new, deep personal experiences and strategies - you may well create narratives and characters that will be like nothing that has ever been seen before.
PAINTING, LITERATURE, MUSIC, SCULPTURE, DANCE
All great art pushes our understanding (and experiences) of what it is to be human. How do we see, feel, hear, live, die, think, remember?
In our current 21st Century lives how much are we genuinely able to spend time exploring these aspects of ourselves as deeply as possible? And if we are to genuinely push the boundaries of our chosen art (or did our art choose us?) how are we to move beyond what has come before us in the arts?
Perhaps most important, how do we move beyond what we understand in our own personal lives?
We believe the Identity Development session can be an important tool in moving into the unknown in ourselves and in our art. We believe it can be accomplished in a safe way. And for all artists, we believe, it is extremely important to move as safely and intelligently as possible into new territory.
There is no reason to be destroyed or hurt by doing our art.
The past is littered with many great artists who gave too much of their lives (and even gave their lives - Van Gogh, Kurt Cobain, Marilyn Monroe, Robin Williams, Jimmy Hendrix, Sylvia Plath - the list is tragically long).
Brilliant art needs brilliant human beings who live long lives and who can deliver insights from the perspective of living through all of life. We believe there is no reason to die prematurely for anything.
Or to be in unnecessary pain.
Even if our lives have been too often been driven by pain in the past.
The core trajectory of a series of I.D. sessions is to accentuate the aspects of ourselves that have been loved (from conception onward), the aspects of ourselves that are able to feel joy, hope and freedom.
As these positive elements (no matter how small and fragile at first) are combined and strengthened so that we can then move more deeply into a full understanding of the “shadows” in our lives.
In all of this we are guided by you, the artist. We are guided by your instincts and growing insights - this is how we believe we can help artists express themselves more deeply and more deeply impact the world around them with their art.
ACTING COURSES WITH STEPHEN GYLLENHAAL
If you are interested in further exploring how the Institute and arts intersect, click here to find out more about how you can register for acting classes.