Welcome to The Spiritual Psychology of Acting! I was lucky enough to join the creator, John Hughes for an inspirational day seminar. It was an enjoyable journey through the philosophy, principles and techniques of the art of acting. John’s certainly has an unique and creative style of teaching, welding acting techniques with principles of zen, psychology and spiritual philosophy.
John’s powerful teachings are utilised not only by actors & actresses but also by larger business’s and individuals seeking to increase their awareness and communication through acting. The benefits of such training are endless. He includes meditation and mindfulness as powerful tools in order to gain connectivity to the ‘spiritual centre.’
Where are you and what did you do today?
I’m at home. It’s Sunday evening. It’s rare that I am not teaching at the weekend. I’ve had a lovely, simple day hanging out with my daughter. We had family over for lunch. I managed to get a couple of hours to paint my new music and writing studio, which has just finished being built in my garden, and I am very excited about. I also watched ‘Nanny McPhee And The Big Bang’ (again!) with my daughter. It’s a great film, but I couldn’t help noticing that it’s always seems to be the same old faces we see in British films.
What is your earliest memory of acting?
When I was in infant and junior school, I remember our favourite play time game was to re-enact scenes from ‘The Planet of The Apes’ and ‘Star Trek’. My other interests were playing football, punk music and playing the drums, which I was pretty obsessed with. Then when I was 14 we started having a weekly drama class, the first time ever in our school. The class took place in the new drama studio with the new drama teacher, Mr Katner, who was very ‘arty’ and had a genuine passion for the subject. He introduced us to an improvisation game, where one pupil would just sit on a bench on the stage, and then another would hopefully get an idea and get up and start an improvisation; “Hello Mrs Jones. How would you like your hair done today”, that kind of thing. For the first couple of weeks I would just sit there, utterly fascinated, but too shy to get involved. Then on the third week, something amazing happened…
The improvisation had evolved in to a scene set in a bank, with a bank manager, refusing a customer a loan for being too scruffy, and a line of impatient customers, waiting to be served. I watched on, totally involved in the role play… and then it happened… I got an ‘impulse’… It shot through me like a tidal wave, and before I had time to think or question, I was up on my feet and pacing into the bank with an imaginary stocking over my head and ‘air shotgun’ firmly in hand… “Right, everyone get down on the fucking floor, this is a robbery!”. It was utterly exhilarating and extremely liberating! It was the moment I found my true passion and calling. You could say that The Spiritual Psychology of Acting has come about as a desire to create those moments; a solid psychological context for the pure impulse of the actor to arise. When it happens, it’s like flying. Everything just happens as it should. It’s an amazing feeling.
What’s your favorite hangout in London/Worldwide?
I really love Canazaro Park, in Wimbledon. When I first met my late wife, she was renting a flat in Wimbledon Village and we used to go for walks and picnics in there all the time. It was always surprisingly free of other visitors. Like a secret garden. It’s got a very ‘English’, eccentricity about it. It’s a wonderful, magical and very romantic place.
Who is your favourite actor at the moment?
Am I allowed to say one of my own students? I have a huge admiration for Eddie Marsan. He’s technically superb and knows exactly what he’s doing in every role, but more than that, he always works from the inside out and gives himself the freedom to find his own unique interpretation of the characters he plays. He always brings something extra to the part. I admire his acting most of all because as a human being, he’s worked on himself and so has a depth of being and a generosity of spirit. It shine’s through his work.
Can you give us one word you can use to describe theatre?
I think theatre at it’s very best is TRANSFORMATIONAL
What’s in store for the next year?
I’m working on a theatre production in London. I also want to expand the classes in Los Angeles and direct more attention to writing, producing and directing. I’ve got one feature film project I’ve written, which is part funded, and another one I’m writing with a friend at the moment, which I’m also very excited about. It’s a reincarnation/ redemption story, featuring anarchists, conspiracy theories, psychedelic drugs, independent festivals, demons and a touch of reiki!
What do you do to get away from everything?
What was the last thing that really made you stop and stare?
It was first thing this morning. I live in Crystal Palace, which is on the top of a hill, with long, wide views to the east from my bedroom window. I woke up this morning just before sunrise and the whole sky was awash with stunning waves of cotton wool cloud; rich pinks, purples, violets against luminous blue. It was breath takingly beautiful… it definitely helped me to start the day with a ‘Good morning god’, instead of a ‘Good god, morning!’, as Wayne Dyer used to say!