Chakra Technique

Stanislavski and Meisner's Techniques are rooted more in the Western tradition but recognize the energy flow from inside-out or outside-in. 

The Chakra Technique was first formalized by actress and teacher Fay Simpson from New York Lucid  Body Studio in her university thesis and later published in the book The Lucid Body: A Guide for the Physical Actor in 2010. Further work on this technique, focusing on a slightly different approach, was done by a Los Angeles actor and teacher Murisa Harba in her book Acting With Energy and practiced in her studio About The Work. Independently of the above-mentioned research, a separate course for the Charkra Technique got developed by Missy Cross from the Mindful Actor Workshops in Vancouver.

The Charkra Technique recognizes that emotional memory is unreliable for bringing emotions out. And over time, the same memory, if used again and again, will fade. More the technique notices that constant use of specific deep personal memory can negatively affect an actor's mental well-being. Instead of using real memories, the new ones should be created and planted deep inside as a repository. If one wears down, then a replacement can be made. 

Think of your body as an instrument. Many of us had to play an instrument at some stage in life. It could have been the piano, violin or at least a recorder at school. According to the technique, acting is nothing more than playing the instrument of your body, and notes are psycho-physical representations of emotions triggered by specific energy sources activated on demand by the trained performer. Notes that can be activated independently, in sequence, or simultaneously with different levels of force (pianissimo or forte) with varying dynamics (crescendo, diminuendo) 

Acting is explained as a flow of energy from within energy sources through your body (inside-out) to the other actor, who then absorbs the energy and reacts (outside-in) to your acting. Acting is a flow of energy between two actors.  

The essential part of the method is chakra warm-up. Even though the specific activities might differ based on the teacher's preference and space availability. For example, Fay Simpson's exercises require more space and time than Murisa Harba's. Regardless of the training, all exercises focus on activating specific energy sources tightly linked to human emotions. 

Chakra Acting Warm Up

The essential part of the method is chakra warm-up. Even though the specific activities might differ based on the teacher's preference and space availability. For example, Fay Simpson's exercises require more space and time than Murisa Harba's. Regardless of the training, all exercises focus on activating specific energy sources tightly linked to human emotions. 

Root Chakra (Muladhara)

Location: Base of the spine

Sound: "Zooo"

Action: Stand both legs apart, one hand first in front, one hand fist behind, and voice the sound.

Emotion: Life or death, survival

Open / Exploded / Forte: inflexibility, domination, stubbornness, rage, fight

Closed / Imploded / Piano: scared, weak, bullied, lost, panic, danger

Sacral Chakra (Svadhishthana)

Location: Lower abdomen, two fingers below the navel

Sound: "Wohh"

Action: Arms by the side of the body, and push yourself off balance doing circles with your lower part while voicing the sound.

Emotion: Excitement, creativity, sexuality, vulnerability, addiction, creativity

Open / Exploded / Forte: flirtatious, chatty, partying, pleasuring, attractive

Closed / Imploded / Piano: shy, embarrassed, shameful, unattractive, gashing

Power Chakra (Manipura)

Location: Solar Plexus

Sound: "Shah"

Action: Form a triangle between your thumbs and index fingers, put your connected hands to your solar plexus and push it forward, voicing the sound.

Emotion: Confidence, being in control

Open / Exploded / Forte: assertive, extravert, confident, challenging

Closed / Imploded / Piano: inferior, quiet, introverted, unsure, guilt

Heart Chakra (Anahata)

Location: Heart

Sound: "Ahhh"

Action: Place both hands on your heart and make a giving gesture voicing the sound

Emotion: Communication,  self-love and love for others

Open / Exploded / Forte: soothing, open, friendly, happy, love

Closed / Imploded / Piano: betrayed, sour, lonely, depressed, despair, sadness, hate

Throat Chakra (Vishuddha)

Location: Throat

Sound: "Guh"

Action: Place a hand on your throat and move the hand outward, voicing the sound.

Emotion: Inner truth, being speechless

Open / Exploded / Forte: information overload, chattery, indiscrete, direct, loud

Closed / Imploded / Piano: quiet, closed, lying, false

Third Eye Chakra (Anja)

Location: Between eyebrows

Sound: "Huh"

Action: Put the index finger on the side of your head and point it upward while voicing the sound. 

Emotion: Intuition, surprise, figuring out an idea

Open / Exploded / Forte: leading, conscious, sensitive, wise, planning, intuition, aware, flexible

Closed / Imploded / Piano: blind, unaware, clueless, stupid, inflexible, opinionated

Spiritual Chakra (Sahastrara)

Location: Crown of the head

Sound: "Ahh"

Action: Stay still, look upward, and feel the energy flow from the top of your head to your fingertips and your feet, while voicing the sound.

Emotion: Connection to spirituality, the upper force, internal dialogue, purpose of life

Open / Exploded / Forte: compassionate, creative, inspired, good

Closed / Imploded / Piano: realistic, cynical, doubtful, evil, destructive

Chakra Acting Dynamics

If Chakras were music, then apart from the note itself, each chakra would also need appropriate dynamics to be played with the required expression. When playing an instrument and expressing some extreme passage with fortissimo, you must use your whole body and energy to show emotion. Yet when you're playing piano or pianissimo, you focus within and ensure that sounds produced as subtle and barely audible yet characteristic. The Lucid Body book presents an excellent explanation of chakra dynamics.   

Exploded Chakra

If chakras were music, you would be playing the corresponding emotions with the forte of even fortissimo. 

f, ff, fff

Imploded Chakra

You would have to play this passage of emotions with piano to extreme pianissimo 

p, pp, ppp

Balanced Chakra

A balanced chakra would avoid extremes. It would be something mezzo forte and mezzo piano.

mf, mp

There are also two other states of the chakra mentioned by Fay Simpson: 

The Spastic Chakra - oscillates between Exploded and Imploded from f and p up to fff and ppp. While in all other chakras, you would use more of a legato, with the spastic chakra, you would use more staccato and accents. Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to produce those huge dynamic changes. 

The Blocked Chakra - rest in musical terms, no sound produced or in chakra no emotion of this type involved. 

Chakra Acting Notation

In her book Lucid Body Fay Simpson presents visual diagrams of the chakras in their appropriate state overlayed on the outline of the human body. Those diagrams help you understand the overall traits of the character. Applying the chakra technique on the micro level when working on each scene and following Murisa Harbas's approach would require a different notation. 

There are official chakra symbols, but they're very complicated to draw.

I use the notation shown below. While they are not official chakra symbols,I put those symbols on the side of the script or below the scene's key beats. This is a bit of a shorthand that can be drawn faster, I realize some symbols might be cryptic to the acting teachers and other actors, but if you're familiar with the music notation, it's just a slight adjustment, and you need to learn seven new pictures.

Crown Chakra Acting Symbol - draw a small crown

Third Eye Chakra Acting Symbol - draw an eye

Throat Chakra Acting Symbol - you can just draw a capital letter T, this also can refer to something that goes up and gets held at the top of the shoulders.

Heart Chakra Acting Symbol - you can just draw a small heat, even if you are a boy and you usually don't draw heats

Power Chakra Acting Symbol - draw a small lightning

Sacral Chakra Acting Symbol - this is a small triangle that depicts the location of the chakra, I leave it to your imagination.

Root Chakra Acting Symbol - it is simplified bottom of a tree, an upside down letter T. Think of a stick stuck into the ground - being rooted. 

Use the standard music notation with a crescendo, diminuendo, staccato, piano, pianissimo, accents and so on combined with the symbols above to break down the emotions mapping and acting chakras in the script.  

The Lucid Body: A Guide for the Physical Actor

Written by Fay Simpson and published in 2010

Acting With Energy

Written by Murisa Harba and Published in 2021

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