Way of the Actor: A Path to Knowledge and Power

Overview

For thousands of years, in traditional societies around the world, actors were seen as the guardians of intuitive wisdom, and the way of the actor was a path to knowledge and power. Brian Bates believes that this is still the case today—that actors and actresses fulfill an important function in our culture as modern-day seers and shamans. He portrays the actor as a creator of visions who transports spectators out of their habitual ways of being and leads them on a journey of self-discovery. Personal magnetism and...
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Overview

For thousands of years, in traditional societies around the world, actors were seen as the guardians of intuitive wisdom, and the way of the actor was a path to knowledge and power. Brian Bates believes that this is still the case today—that actors and actresses fulfill an important function in our culture as modern-day seers and shamans. He portrays the actor as a creator of visions who transports spectators out of their habitual ways of being and leads them on a journey of self-discovery. Personal magnetism and charisma, intense body awareness, and psychic sensitivity are among the special powers that contribute to the actor's mystique.

Citing the observations and experiences of more than thirty famous performers—including Meryl Streep, Marlon Brando, Glenda Jackson, Liv Ullmann, Jack Nicholson, and Shirley MacLaine—the author also draws on extensive research in science, psychology, parapsychology, and Eastern and Western mysticism to explore the significance of the dramatic art. He not only shows how the magical world of stage and screen mirrors our lives, but also reveals how actors and actresses point the way to self-transformation for everyone. For, as he writes, "the way of the actor is not an esoteric discipline divorced from everyday life. It is everyday life, heightened and lived to the full, with an awareness of powers beyond understanding."

Based on interviews with more than 30 actors/actresses, we're shown that great acting often involves abilities bordering on paranormal.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Shamanism and the primitive power of magnetic actors is the subject of psychologist Bates's book. Working with Royal Academy of Dramatic Art actors, he succeeded in heightening their ability to communicate personal energy. Bates demonstrates the training needed to draw from deep within their lives the concentration needed to intensify, enlarge, and focus actors' emotional tools. With a willing audience, that energy can be released in a way similar to that of primitive spiritual leaders. Extensive interviews with major actors lends the weight and persuasiveness needed to address a skeptical audience, because Bates goes well beyond actor-training here. His practice of trance-inducement and ``out-of-body'' travel left this reviewer doubtful, but his portrait of the work and powers of actors is authoritative and accurate. Controversial, but most important.Thomas E. Luddy, English Dept., Salem State Coll., Mass .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570626647
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/1987
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 842,686
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian Bates is a psychologist who spent seven years researching the psychology of acting with students at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He is now Director of the Medical Psychology Project at the Department of Psychology, University of Sussex, England.
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