Power and Presence

There’s an ongoing mental list that may someday turn in to a workshop, class, or at the very least a segment of next year’s Jr. level movement class at VCU: Everything I need to know about acting I learned from stage combat.

Some of this went over well at the guest teaching night I had at Richmond Shakespeare recently. It’s about engaging your core, about knowing what your body energy can be and how to use it in different ways, about taking up space and feeling power. Some of this touches on Checkhov’s movement qualities and ideas on energy. Some of it I steal from Aikido and other martial arts. Some of it I probably need to study yoga more to learn some more tricks. Shakespeare wrote gods, and kings, and warriors. I think it could in part be a remedy to a trend I’ve been noticing lately, validated in the news as well:


American Superheroes missing in Hollywood

Do Americans not have what it takes to play heroes?


American hero?

Some of this may be a side-effect of a generation of naturalism in acting, reducing characters to the level of actors rather than elevating actors to the levels of princes, gods, and warriors. If they want to (heaven forbid) do a remake of Greatest American Hero, we’re set… but real warrior archetype? Not so much. Actor training aside, some of it is probably in the larger context of society- as though the two could be viewed independently.

Manning up

I don’t blame “the rise of women”, but I do see the aversion to interpersonal power, and a reluctance to engage the hips (and by extension, the core). We’ve seen an increase in women action heroes, it’s true, but given the need for many of them to still conform to stereotypical feminine imagery, they’re often too busy trying to be sexy to actually take the place of men in the “power” department.

The new TV Wonder Woman: I'm not convinced.

The latest screen version of Wonder Woman currently in the works (just for example) looks more like she stepped out of a fall catalog of Halloween costumes, nestled between other twiggy teens modeling the “sexy witch” and “sexy nurse”, also in PVC. Her stance says “but daddy I neeeed the car keys tonight“, not “Evildoers beware“.

Of course I’m not saying all American men are mumbling wusses, all American girls are twiggy brats, and all American actors are apologetic mumblers trained by Woody Allen (can you see him every playing a heroic… anything?). I’m fortunate enough to know more than my share of confident, kick-ass women and men and actors. “I know one” doesn’t make for a trend, though.



Food for thought, anyway- and a nice place to keep track of these links while I continue to mull it over. If anyone knows of other acting schools that get in to this topic of energy and presence, let me know.




One Trackback

  1. By Bonzuko » Power Article on March 20, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    […] leave your comments there (and here) about this lovely article re: Power and Presence by fellow stage combat blog Them’s Fightin’ Words.   ~Jenn Categories: Martial […]

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