My Mom used to always tell me whenever my life seemed out of control (from Sir Shakespeare)… The World is a Stage and we are merely the players.
So many times this feels so true. Here we learn how to play, how to “role” with the punches.
Each of the archetypes in the monomyth has a tendency to contain a certain scope of emotions and these emotions.. act out, or they like to express themselves. It’s fun to understand each one – and once you know the rules, they can bend.
Understanding these tendencies can equip us to enriching our acting, our screenwriting and even our lives… as they say art imitates life. So let’s learn this deep, complicated stuff together. So acting is an acting out of emotion, allowing that emotion to drain out or explode out, or to flow out of us but we must understand why this is. So OK, a film is a hyper quick, reduced down, timeline of a hero’s journey. For example, in a movie we don’t see the hero spending hours and hours sleeping. We need and we want to see the most dramatic moments. Because of this we don’t act out, or write the slow… the boring aspects of the journey, we need to work to understand these moments, build tension, release tension. We need to learn, to watch the most dramatic of moments, the hits of a story. For this to be compelling dramatic work we need to read in the eyes the moving through complex circumstance, grounded in knowing the archetypal positioning of the symbol your role represents to the audience. Acting and writing is such deep work. Wow.
This expression of emotion based on archetypical design is a fascinating topic. We can learn quite a bit looking at the monomythic structure from this unique lens. Actors can train their minds to prepare for this array of emotional choices based on the circumstances in the script and a deduction of their archetype. The writer can acquire an insight into this structure and play with these rules. To those reading this that may not be pursuing a career on the arts can use this breakdown to discover clues in your own life so you can use his insight to move through emotions. It’s a wonderful study.
Let’s go through each of the archetypes and explore these emotional tendencies that express themselves.
The hero embodies a baseline emotion of neutrality. They tend to fully absorb the emotional twist and turns of all the other archetypes, their drama and become affected by them all by taking it all in, thinking it through. Heros are keen observers of their circumstances, they are constantly thinking why are things are happening to them the way they are. You might hear a her say to themselves, “I did not sign up for this“, which implies they are in over their head. Their wheels are turning. This doesnt mean they don’t feel when they need to. These feelings need to purge, the cycles of life must enter in the hero and must cycle out. The choices the hero makes go into effect and the hero is searching, constantly working from their own ethics how to correct their own thinking. Heros typically start their adventure feeling defeated from aspects of their ordinary world. They are the victims of their own circumstances and it’s time to grow. The hero then goes into confusion over their call to adventure, loss over the stealing of their prince or princess, awe inspired by the insights of the mentor, determination to saving their loved ones…
As we move into the other archetypes we move into more definition of the emotions they act out. Where the hero can blend into really any spectrum of emotion the others tend to bleed into a fewer range of emotions. This is because they are clear on what they want, they are more clear of their role where the hero must toss and turn through the rabbit hole of the journey. Think of the hero as the one falling through the rabbit hole and the other archetypes being bits and pieces of the bumps, apparitions, fog and the many elements the hero must pass through. The go to emotional spectrum for our villains they act out are: selfishness, revenge, betrayal, rage, jealousy. These nasty negative emotions stem from past choices they made in their past, and they won’t let it go.. let’s go into detail of a few of these emotions to be acted out, to be expressed by both the writer and the actor.
Selfishness: creating a character that wants more stuff, wants to rule the world is quite relatable. We all know or we all have experienced levels of selfishness. The feeling of wanting more, your villain’s core negative emotion can solely be this and your audience will accept it.
Revenge: This is a strong choice. The desire to see the hero suffer for what the villain perceives they have done can penetrate your entire film and beyond.
Jealousy: this is a strong choice. Your characters need a core throughline, that can be reduced down to one word. Going through this process can help you identify the choices your character will make, in whatever circumstances they find themselves in. A jealous villain is really fun choice!
A note on villains: As you can see negative emotions tend to be predictable. Your villains are usually predictable in their tendency to lean towards the negative aspects. Nonetheless the way you choose to show how your villain acts out these scenarios is up to you and is very creative. Villains are often very creative characters that mask their baseline emotions behind many others.
The primary emotional state of mind of the mentor is compassion. The mentor exudes or acts out empathy, sympathy towards the state of mind of the hero, for they have been there before. This leads to a deep, kindly demeanor that helps the mentor deliver the often times mind altering belief system the hero must adapt to in order for the movie to move forward. The mentor is experiencing a profound release of their own divinity and are acting from this position. They want other actors to interact with in this way and the hero is close to unlocking their own divine gifts. It’s a perfect relationship, it’s a lifting up. If the hero hears, feels, takes in, absorbs the lessons of the mentor the hero will be lifted up into acquiring new gifts.
Let’s try this > The mentor is acting out of their divinity, their high moral, ethical principles. Create a scene in which you are in a position to help lift the hero up through your divine purpose, your mentors divine release. You are here to help the hero cleanse their physiological mind so they too can live out their gifts. This is a very hard scene to write, to act out but once a groups if creatives find the right flow the work is incredible.
The core emotional state of mind for the minion is fear. They are terrified of what the villain may do to them if they don’t obey them. This acting out of this baseline emotion leads to many other colors of fear, aspect of fear. The minion sways to the side of the negative, as if they are a villain in waiting. They tend to agree with the villains evil plans out of fear of what the villain may do to them if they don’t agree.
A scenario to act out >
Pretend you are afraid of the villian. Imagine you want to have the material possessions the villain flaunts. Act from this place and observe what happens within you.
* Understanding this dynamic can help you prevent yourself from it in your real life. You don’t want to act out of this place, you want to be fearless. You want to destroy nothing.
The Prince/ Princess:
The baseline, core emotional status of this archetype is love. You must act out of this wonderful place. Your acting should feel warm, kind and generous. You are akin to a small child who loves being here. Loves all the endless, simple adventures of all the things they discover but are helpless here at the same time. This dynamic will create such a powerful bond with your audience. We are all like a small child, we all should protect our inner child so we can always have a genuine joy behind the veil of our existence.
Act this out > Pretend you possess a genuine love for the hero. You trust the seed of love inside the hero and because of this the hero, in return protects you. In this scene express, act out your love for life and your appreciation for the hero through a kind action.
* These scenarios may unlock aspects of yourself, you may discover a new awareness of your own life script. This awareness can provide you the opportunity to edit, enhance your own life script. The monomythic structure is, right now, acting out in your life. No doubt.
The Shapeshifter/ The Trickster:
The primary baseline emotional state of mind of the shapeshifter is curiosity. The shapeshifter uses their curious mind to shift the thoughts of hero towards good circumstances or negative ones. If sided with the villain they usually have an agreement in place and the villain has appeased their curious mind. If sides with the hero they aid the hero, often through humor to think through their delusions by looking within.
Action > You are the shapeshifter. Pretend you have an infariois agreement with the villain. You goal is to trick the hero into a trap in which they will be ensnared by the villian. Then try the opposite. Because you are good find a negative mental form of thinking the hero uses and to illustrate its absurdity poke fun of it.
The go to, baseline emotion of the ally archetype is passion. The ally exudes a genuine passion for the adventure the hero is on. If the hero’s journey is a roller coaster then the ally is the passenger. They are on the ride with the hero, and they care about the experience the hero is having. Different then compassion because the ally is also experiencing the adventure with the hero for the first time while the mentor has already experienced the passage of that particular journey. For us the passion of the ally can be an extension of our own passion for our craft. Do we not love it? Use your own passion to fill in the energy of this incredibly powerful archetype. We all need to be and to have allies to remind us of the adventurous spirit of being alive.
Give this a shot > one actor plays the hero and the other plays the ally. The actor playing the ally, your job is to work to Express your passion for the adventure the hero is about to go on. The actor playing the hero, I want you to be scared of the journey. Perhaps you are scared you can’t face the villain, or you don’t understand the new world or you fear what you may leave behind. The scene is fear vs passion. Follow the rule of three. There times hero, balk to the convincing arguments of the ally but on the last one agree to go. Ally you must overcome each objection the hero presents with genuine passion, zeal and a thrust of adventure… this story needs it!
Ok. I think that’s it for this module.
I’ve packed this one with great setups you and your writing team or acting company can explore. Mastering these story moments is such a challenge. It may bring up real connections between it and where you are in your own journey. You may discover, pinpoint how your own fears are being created.
Now not ever villain for example is selfish. But they usually are. However just because they are doesn’t mean you, the actor, must go to the obvious choice. When the actor receives the audition they should really play with the script. Figure out which archetype you are. Sink your teeth into the story. Anchor yourself their and create your performance timeline. Let it build. It can be beautiful work. I have seen happen.
I believe what my Mom was telling me was to master the stage, to set the stage, to write the story of my own journey. This is something I will never stop learning. I just love the idea of each day learning something new about it. About the roles I play and the roles others seem to play in my life.
- If you have made it this far let me see if I can offer you something. In life we are ALL the archetypes. To someone you are the ally, you are the villain, you are the mentor just as much as you are met with them all in your life. It’s hella fun to observe this unfolding in your life. Fro what I have learned about this place is there are RULES here and these rules are not bad. The core rule is the golden rule. If you are good, good will be earned, if you do something out of malicious, malicious be returned to you. So please… use this breakdown here to help you see the journey, but use it to only improve your connection to nature laws.
Please contact me if you have any questions. Training will begin soon.