An Academy Interlude: One Foot at a Time

by Teresa Marie Doran,  Academy Student

Each Wednesday night in Archetypes class, we have the privilege of spending three hours getting out of our heads and into the bodies of some of the most iconic characters in Greco-Roman, Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Modern theater. No matter what the evening brings -be it Masks, Commedia, tension-focus exercises, textual analysis or scene work, John and Geoffrey create an atmosphere of trust in which we can let loose and play. 

AC (Antaeus Company): Why Archetypes?

Geoffrey Wade teaches Classics: Archetypes - photo by K. Canavan

Geoffrey Wade teaches Classics: Archetypes – photo by K. Canavan

TD (Teresa Doran): Last week in class Geoffrey said, “It is the actor’s job to serve the playwright.” John then added, “And it is the job of both the playwright and the actor to serve the audience.” The responsibility of the actor is to communicate a story to the audience in the clearest and most effective way. Archetypes are among every actor’s best tools for doing just that. They represent character patterns that have stood the test of time. Traits that people recognize and relate to almost immediately. Through archetypes, the audience sees familiar faces; the mean girl from high school, the snooty next-door neighbor, the mother, father, sister, brother.  

AC: Why Antaeus? 

TD: Being new to LA I was lucky to join Antaeus Academy. Not only has this class quenched my thirst for the classics but it’s also introduced me to a community of like-minded artists. John and Geoffrey are wonderful. It’s been a privilege having two teachers – with two distinct opinions – teaching at once. Their incredible experience as performers has made their lessons both extremely informative and a lot of fun.

AC: What was challenging about the class? 

Teresa in class - photo by K. Canavan

Teresa in class – photo by K. Canavan

TD: Working on the role of Medea. She seemed, at first, to be the most distant or iconic character I have yet to face. After approaching the text, memorizing, and deciding which archetypes I assimilated with her, I played under the guidance of John and Geoffrey to build her “from the feet up.”  -a phrase which has become almost a class mantra – and not surprisingly a useful tactic in helping me take on the feat of stepping into Medea’s archetypal shoes.

AC: What do you take away from this class?

TD: Consideration of Archetypes when I approach a text. I  recognize that there are incredible specific truths to be discovered within the broad brushstroke that is a character’s “type.”   Archetypes define initial truths about a character – a foundation or framework that when laid allows an actor to dig deeper and create a more specific image for the audience.  Investigating Archetypes doesn’t do all the work for you, you still have to paint your specific portrayal … but it gives a solid foundation beneath you and there are great advantages in building from there. (“From the feet up!”  )

DORAN_TeresaMarieAcademy member Teresa Marie Doran puts on her acting pants the same as everyone else.  She is currently enrolled in our Classics: Archetypes class, which meets Wednesday evenings this Spring.  Lead Moderators: John Achorn & Geoffrey Wade.  For more information on the Antaeus Academy, please visit our website: www.antaeus.org/theacademy.html

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