Interplay 2014. pub



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Interplay XIX-2014
Archetypes 
In order to play erotic spaces, we must know if our character is male or female. Since we never know if the character 
we are chosen for is the same sex as we are, I find that it is valuable for actors to be able
access their male and fe-
male archetype onstage. 
According to Carl Jung, there is a collective unconscious that is the psychic system of a universal unconscious that is 
shared by all humanity (4). Archetypes are defined as universal, archaic elements and images that derive from the col-
lective unconscious (5). These archetypes are autonomous, hidden forms, 
which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression. As inherited potentials, entering the con-
sciousness as images or manifesting them in behavior or interaction with the outside world can actualize them. I will focus on the two 
main archetypes relevant for our discussion: Anima and Animus (6). 
Anima is described as the unconscious feminine psychological qualities that a male possesses, or as a feminine inner per-
sonality. Animus is described as the masculine ones possessed by the female, or as a masculine inner personality. I use the 
Anima and Animus is broader terms. Anima is the feminine essence/quality in all of us, and Animus the Masculine 
 
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Assael Romanelli 
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Sexuality and eroticism
equivalent. We all have both of these archetypes and shift between them throughout our life. These two archetypes could 
be compared to the Ying-Yang Chinese concept (7) of complementary forces that interacting to form a synergistic 
whole. Both Archetypes exist together in every character in every story we tell and hear. In some stories, we can deci-
pher which archetype was the dominant one in the teller, antagonist or other characters. 
In our workshops, we tried to actualize these unconscious archetypes so we can have better control and clarity in the PT 
enactments. I have found two simple ways to embody these archetypes on stage. These embodiments help the actor 
avoid superficial stereotypical gestures (such as high pitched noises to play women, low pitched voice to play men, em-
phasizing the chest to play women, walking heavily in order to play men and such…). Focusing on breathing, physical 
awareness and a clear mental image, all help to deliver a powerful archetypal character that is authentic as well as a deep 
representation of the archetypal nature of the story’s character, which can lead to greater identification with the audi-
ence. 
The way we embody the Animus archetype is by nasal breathing to the chest are while squeezing the buttocks mus-
cles. The combination of these two activities, send a message to the unconscious mind of certain energy. We add to 
this physicalisation, the imagery of a line, accompanied with mental focus of wanting to achieve a goal, to penetrate. 
The movement in space within this archetype is in straight angles, focused and walking in perpendicular lines. Usual-
ly in workshops, participants confuse this archetype with the feeling of anger or competition. It is important to stress 
that this is an archetype that can experience a myriad of feelings. 
The way we embody the Anima archetype is by relaxing our jaw, and opening our mouth so it forms a small circle (8) 
and breath deep abdominal breaths (with or without a hand on the abdomen to help focus the breathing there). The 
imagery is that of a circle, with the mental focus of nurturing the space, bringing it into myself, connection. Body re-
laxed, legs shoulder length apart. The movement when practicing this archetype is circular motions, with round limbic 
movements. Participants usually confuse this archetype with feelings of love. Like previously stated, this archetype 
can experience a wide range of emotions, including those of anger, hatred, jealousy and such. 
When physically embodying these two archetypes, participants usually experience different emotions, associations, 
thoughts and even songs. I suspect that these instinctual and intuitive associations, usually dormant, are connected to 
the person’s archetype. It is interesting to note that not every male prefers (or feels most comfortable) in the Animus 
archetype, just like not every female prefers the Anima archetype. 
We have notice that every actor has certain idiosyncratic archetypal reactions and preferences, when interacting with a 
partner of the similar or opposite archetype. These idiosyncratic preferences are a great treasure for these actors, which 
they can use onstage to better embody the archetype. Once the physicalization of the archetypes is understood, it is 
possible to categorize characters in the teller’s story by what archetype dominated them in the story. We must remem-
ber that coming on stage, with a clear archetype, is a wonderful gift to the fellow actors, allowing a clear, powerful 
depiction that can reverberate on deeper levels beyond the superficial stereotypes of men and women. Playing with 
manifestations of these archetypes brought to the surface many general issues regarding gender and power in society, 
much larger discussions than just the erotic. 
Intimacy and eroticism: Yes/and or either/or? 
We now focus our attention to two different kinds of energies or ways of relating in the intimate and erotic spheres. 
Perel (2007) writes that the “seeds of intimacy are time and repetition” (p. 21). She adds that one shouldn’t perceive 
intimacy as a static feature of a relationship, but as “a quality of interaction that takes place in isolated moments and 
that exists both within and without long-term relationships… I no longer look at relationships as being either intimate 
or not. Instead, I track each couple’s ability to engage in a series of intimate bids tendered over time” (p. 51). In short
intimacy requires us to see our partner as a complex, sensitive subject (in contrast to an object) where we can feel safe 
and secure. 
For our purposes on stage, we found that the quickest way to build intimate moments with a fellow actor is by match-
ing their breathing, maintaining eye contact (better to focus on one eye than to switch between both eyes), and to im-
agine the soul/child/sage in that person. One can also imagine that he or she shares a secret with their onstage partner, 
thereby creating an invisible wall around the couple, distinguishing them and the world. Another helpful technique we 
found was to imagine an invisible elastic “thread” or “light” connecting you and your partner (through your navels). 
All these techniques help establish quick intimate moments onstage that can in turn create and exhibit an intimate rela-
tionship onstage. 
Eroticism, as described earlier, is a sphere of separateness, selfish enjoyment and objectification. It is a sphere of dan-
ger, power and uncertainty. Participants are usually surprised and challenged by this view of eroticism as not being 
“politically correct” or “sensitive”. Perel (2007) writes that indeed eroticism is seen as a dirty, which doesn’t fit with 
the western ideas of equality and feminism. That being said, eroticism is still a part of everyone’s life and therefore 
should find its way to the stage. 



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