The Soul of the American Actor

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“To grasp the full significance of life is the actor's duty, to interpret it is his problem, and to express it his dedication.”  
– Marlon Brando

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”
– Helen Keller

“The theatre should be treated with respect. The theatre is a wonderful place, a house of strange enchantment, a temple of illusion.”
– Noel Coward

“Cultivate an ever continuous power of observation...see the sunlight and everything that is to be seen.”
– John Singer Sargent

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
– T.S. Eliot

“Feel is if you are reborn each day and rediscover the world of nature which are joyfully a part.”
– Pablo Casals, at the age of 96

“The secret of all natural and human law is movement that meets with devotion”
– I Ching

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“You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self.”
– Richard Bach

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
– Wilma Rudolph

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
– William Faulkner

“Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
– Ernest Hemingway

“My favorite piece of music is the one we hear all the time if we are quiet.”
– John Cage


Essays

Ingredients Of A Creative Life: Sketches Summer 2017

The Method Acting Exercises Handbook

The Laboratory Instinct

All People Are Famous: Instead of an Autobiography

“CREATE! How Extraordinary People Live to Create and Create to Live”

Films That Make a Difference

Witness to Spirit: My Life with Cowboys, Mozart & Indians

My Life and Art

A Healing Art: How Eurythmy Lives in the World

Dramatic Circumstances: On Acting, Singing, and Living Inside the Stories We Tell: Teaching Through the Lens of Neuroscience

Chasing Light: Notes on Creativity

Changing Ourselves to Change Society

An Excerpt from DAH Theatre: A Sourcebook

I Can Resist Everything Except Тheater: the Work and Role of The Macedonian Centre — International Theatre Institute

Real Life Drama

 

“A word does not start as a word – it is an end product which begins as an impulse, stimulated by attitude and behavior which dictates the need for expression.”
– Peter Brook

“The power of art is the power of truth.”
– Julian Beck

“The key to the mystery of a great artist is that for reasons unknown, he will give away his energies and his life just to make sure that one note follows another... and leaves us with the feeling that something is right in the world.”
– Leonard Bernstein

“In the long history of man, countless empires and nations have come and gone. Those which created no lasting works of art are reduced today to short footnotes in history's catalog. Art is a nation's most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves, and to others, the inner vision which guides us as a Nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.”
– President Lyndon B. Johnson

“If you take the trouble to really listen (to the music) with your soul and with your ears - and I say soul and ears because the mind must work, but not too much also - you will find every gesture there. And it is all true, you know.”
– Maria Callas

“An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.”
– Langston Hughes

“Each of us have a gift given us freely by the universe. And each of us with every breath gives something back.”
– Kim Stanley

“We all bear within us the potentiality for every kind of passion, every fate, every way of life. Nothing human is alien to us. If this were not so, we could not understand other people, either in life or in art.”
– Max Reinhardt

“All kinds of art serve to the greatest of the arts - the art of living on earth.”
– Bertolt Brecht

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”
– James Madison

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
– Martha Graham

“You have to live spherically — in many directions. Never lose your childish enthusiasm — and things will come your way.”
– Federico Fellini

“If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and make a change.”
– Michael Jackson

A Healing Art: How Eurythmy Lives in the World

Eurythmy is an art of movement, which makes visible the sounds of speech and music, expressing the laws of language and tone. Each sound that we speak, specifically vowels and consonants, has a gesture that comes inherently out of the quality of that sound, and for each tone and interval in music. Other elements such as rhythm and form are incorporated with these gestures, combining both the arts of time and the arts of space. 

Eurythmy was developed from the work of Austrian philosopher and educator Rudolf Steiner, first as a performance art. In performance several elements are brought together through gestures and forms choreographed in space, specifically designed for each particular piece. When Eurythmy is performed silk dresses and veils are worn with colors corresponding to the particular piece, sounds and tones.

Winged Victory, Drawing by Jon Larson

The “Winged Victory” in the Louvre in Paris, also known as the Nike or Victoire de Samothrace, is a classic Greek sculpture thought to have been created during the 2nd Century B.C. The figure personifies the qualities of balance and grace in movement which are the ideals toward which we strive in our work with Eurythmy.

The great actor and teacher, Michael Chekhov, discovered a deep connection with Eurythmy. The British actor, Simon Callow, in his autobiography, My Life in Pieces, tells how Michael Chekhov, in coming through from a period of working with Stanislavsky, was on a quest to find meaning for himself in his own life, and understand the source of his art. It was on this quest that he discovered and immersed himself in the work of Rudolf Steiner. It was during this time that Michael Chekhov started to teach and direct, then becoming the Director of the Second Moscow Theatre School.

Steve Buscemi and Linda Larson

Rudolf Steiner in 1905

Mr. Callow relates that, “With the text, Chekhov had an almost mystical relationship to language, crystallized by his exposure to Steiner’s Eurythmy.  Chekhov insisted on the vital importance of sound, of the vibrations which were released within the actor and within the audience by the consonants and vowels.” 

Vowels and consonants are the essence and the origin of Eurythmy.  Eurythmy makes use of the whole human being as a medium of expression, in moving the gestures for the sounds of speech and the tones and intervals in music.

Eurythmy in Theatre can be quite useful in explorations with the cast during a theatrical production, and even help in bringing together the cast with the crew and could include all involved in the production. This can occur at the beginning of a production in the first week or two of rehearsal, and then again after a month or more of working together.

Eurythmy has great potential in drama and theatre. It has been performed in theatrical pieces where it fits organically into particular scenes, to create a mood, enhance the story and expand on the deeper imagination and intent of the play. It can bring new input to the actor's preparation for a role, and is useful in bringing together the cast. This can include also the crew and all who are involved with the production. This could occur at the beginning of a production, in the first week of rehearsal and then periodically throughout the period of working together.

Eurythmy Spring Valley Stage Group

The art of Eurythmy is the foundation for all other aspects of the practice of Eurythmy. These disciplines include Eurythmy in Education or Pedagogical Eurythmy as practiced in Waldorf Schools with whole classes, and Therapeutic Eurythmy, done one-on-one for more specific requests and concerns. Over the years other more specialized applications have been developed including Eye Eurythmy, Dental Eurythmy and Eurythmy in the Workplace.

Eurythmy demonstrations, Garrison Institute on the Hudson, NY

 Eurythmy in Education, practiced especially in Waldorf Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, provides an artistic balance to the academic subjects. It can bring a character-building influence and contributes to developing students’ capacities in the soul aspects of thinking, feeling and willing, while integrating the different levels of their beings.

Eurythmy has been part of the Waldorf School curriculum since the first Waldorf School was established in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1919. The class Eurythmy teacher or Pedagogical Eurythmist, is in close communication with the teacher for each grade and coordinates the Eurythmy class content with the curriculum being taught in the classroom, while meeting the changing stage of development of the child in each grade.

Eurythmy as a Healing Art, known as Therapeutic Eurythmy, is a movement therapy in which rhythmical and flowing movements emerge from the sounds that we speak and relate to the sounds of language that are practiced along with other accompanying elements for the specific concern or need.  The gestures, rhythms and forms we use in artistic and educational Eurythmy provide the basis for the healing movement of Eurythmy Therapy.  The exercises are accompanied by sounds of speech spoken by the therapist as the movements are made. Some movement exercises are also practiced silently.

The art of Eurythmy

Our health depends upon an extremely intricate internal harmony between the metabolic, rhythmic and nervous systems of the body as well as the emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of the human being. Eurythmy assists the internal bodily processes in establishing a healthy rhythm and balance. Eurythmy Therapy can bring greater balance between body and soul, and harmony between our inner and outer worlds, ultimately awakening one’s natural healing forces.  It can help effectively with anxiety and depression, in situations of trauma and loss, and concerns such as those below can be addressed for adults as well as for students. 

The therapeutic application of Eurythmy practiced In Waldorf Schools, has been instrumental in addressing a wide range of needs including physiological, social, emotional, behavioral and learning challenges. This work has helped to increase learning capacities and remove blockages to progress, re-establish and strengthen the individual, promoting flexibility and mobility, coordination, spatial orientation, learning difficulties including reading, writing and math, attentional challenges, fear, memory and speech.

In the school setting, the Therapeutic Eurythmist works with teachers, parents, and the Care Group and/or Educational Support team in the school to gain as rich a picture as possible of the child and his or her situation.  This may include having a diagnosis from a physician and/or conversations with counselors, tutors or other specialists. Therapeutic Eurythmy and the various applications of Eurythmy are also practiced in Camphill communities for developmentally delayed residents of all ages which have been established in many countries around the world.

Eurythmy demonstrations, Garrison Institute on the Hudson, NY

Eurythmy as a social art in workshops, classes and seminars for adults can develop a more keen awareness of self and of others, bringing a more harmonious relation between one’s inner and outer worlds. Through participation, each individual’s contribution is recognized as part of the larger vision of the organization. 

Eurythmy in the Workplace is a good example of social eurythmy, encouraging teamwork in place of competition. It teaches how to work effectively in a group, developing balance and harmony, flexibility and self-confidence, enhancing communication and cooperation, promoting qualities of leadership and creativity in problem-solving. It has been introduced into the business world and into varied work settings, from Weleda and Telecom to the Management Institute, the Swedish Post Office to organizational Boards and non-profit organizations, and many more. 

In this highly stressful world, Eurythmy in the Workplace can be affective in the workplace to develop balance and harmony along with flexibility and self-confidence. It can help to create an environment that is dynamic, responsive and efficient, increasing self-confidence, and bringing more joy into the work environment.

Eurythmy drawings by Jon Larson

When I first entered the world of Eurythmy, it happened so quietly. I found the beauty and the strength.  Step upon step.  Circle around circle.  Spiral upon spiral.  Through Eurythmy I experienced directly how we weave together the universal with the personal. They breathe together, interchanging with each other, merging in the design, the color, the movement, the music, the breathing. 

I found through Eurythmy — the drama, the words, the expression, the merging of many paths.  I could sense in art, music, and drama — the rhythm. I could see that in all of life, embodied with grace, these elements shine through Eurythmy, that it is an expression as direct as any single being could possibly have.  I could see the human being as the instrument.

Once I began to understand more of Rudolf Steiner’s work and philosophy through Eurythmy, I begin to see life more clearly through the doing of Eurythmy. I carry this budding art to others, who may know nothing of it yet with the hope that they too may realize this discovery in their lives.

• 2017 Written exclusively for “The Soul of the American Actor”

Eurythmy at Epidarius, Greece

LINDA LARSON has been practicing Eurythmy in its various applications for over twenty-five years in Switzerland, England and the U.S., in Waldorf Schools, Anthroposophic Clinics, community centers and retreat centers, Anthroposophical Society Branch Groups, with businesses and boards. She has lived and worked in Camphill communities for all ages with special needs. She facilitates workshops, seminars, and conferences, giving monthly workshops in New York City (asnyc.com) and practices Therapeutic Eurythmy with all ages. Ms. Larson is the Therapeutic Eurythmist at the Rudolf Steiner School in New York City, the first Waldorf School in America established in 1928. She lived several years in Europe where she began her Eurythmy work. She earned her Diploma in Eurythmy from Lea van der Pals in Switzerland, and for the Therapeutic Eurythmy Training in England.  Soon after she completed the Pedagogical Eurythmy Training with British Master Eurythmist, M. V. Heider, completed the Eurythmy in the Workplace training with Annemarie Ehrlich, founder of the Institute in Holland, and the Dental Therapeutic Eurythmy training with the founders of that training, Dr. Klaus Haupt and Marieke Kaiser of Austria. Ms. Larson is a member of the Association for Therapeutic Eurythmy in North America (ATHENA), the Eurythmy Association of North America (EANA) www.larsoneurthmy.com.


"It is a law of life that man cannot live for himself alone. Extreme individualism is insanity. The world's problems are also our personal problems. Health is achieved through maintaining our personal truth in a balanced relation of love to the rest of the world. No expression is more emblematic of this relation than the creative act which we call art. No art by its very constitution typifies the social nature of that creative act more than the theatre. The theatre, to be fully understood and appreciated, must be seen as a manifestation of this process of interchange between society and the individual. It must be judged as a continuous development of groups of individuals within society, a development which becomes richer, acquires greater force and value as it grows with the society in which it originates. Only in this way can the theatre nourish us.  - Harold Clurman

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