Saturday, August 6, 2011
A Word About Archetypes (How To Book More Acting Jobs!)
Know your archetypes. There are two authors that every actor should read that few actors have read. I know (or at least I hope) that many of you have read Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, Sandy Meisner, Sonia Moore, Stella Adler, and Lee Strasberg. So perhaps now you assume that you know all about acting. But if you haven’t read Christopher Vogler’s “The Writer’s Journey,” and Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth,” then you’re missing more than you know. These books deal with archetypes. When I say “archetypes,” I mean the “types of characters” on which all characters are based.
Joseph Campbell taught us first, back in 1949, in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” that virtually all myths (and stories) worldwide share a similar structure. The other two books take this information and apply it to modern-day storytelling – Vogler, specifically to filmmaking. For example, all stories have, in some way, a hero that goes on a journey and returns with an elixir. On this journey, the hero meets mentors, villains, gatekeepers, shape-shifters, etc. Vogler uses well-known movies such as Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz as examples but you can use literally any movie and the paradigm still holds.
By understanding who these characters are and how a story is structured, you the actor, go into the audition knowing what your role is in the story, and therefore, knowing what they’re looking for. This knowledge comes into play ALL THE TIME. At the audition an actor never has enough information about a character or a story because you seldom get the whole script. Understanding who your character is, in the scheme of things, will help you to make better acting choices. Otherwise, like all the other actors auditioning, you’re just guessing as to what it is that they’re looking for—how the character feels about the people he is talking to. Read the books, learn the archetypes, and it will get you jobs…