Archetypes and the Actor

‘I enjoyed your workshop yesterday very much. It felt a bit like Commedia del Arte without masks and without having to keep to your character’s stereotype. Using text with these archetypes was a great exercise towards “truthfulness” of the lines. As an actor I want to be flexible and open for new things when I work on a character and going through the different archetypes with the text allows me to train that flexibility and openness I want to achieve.’

Working with Archetypes is working on your SELF, exploring all the ways of being human that you can imagine, learning to recognize and skilfully sustain the ability to allow your performance to take flight, and perform itself.

Based essentially in physical and vocal theatre training, you will experience a range of possible movement qualities in the body, and consequently discover a vocabulary of extraordinarily subtle vocal colours and qualities. This is a dynamic technique for actors exploring characterisations with and without text, and also as a tool for devising original work.

Archetypes offer a means of acknowledging, and consequently understanding the intrinsic instability, or paradox which is at the core of life, which the actor strives to embody in performance and which audiences recognize as ‘truthful’, ‘real’ and ‘spontaneous’. When you learn how to reveal your own Fool, or Sage or Trickster you begin to understand how to apply this knowledge with consistency to all of your roles.


The classes helped me to be more aware of my body, voice and breath on a number of the archetype and working with the archetypes, has given me the opportunity to be more flexible as an actor.  It gave me the tools to explore characters, and opened me up to a   more exploratory process.  It gave me the opportunity to open up to more choices.  *Also realizing the archetypes are not stereotypes but carry the myriad of emotions from strength to vulnerability.

The Archetype (Arche – original; type – pattern) is NOT a particular, living (or even one-time living) human being.
  • Archetypes are unique yet universal ideas of human-type beings (or ways of being human)
  • Archetypes are recognizable in myths and folk tales from all cultures throughout the known world and from our dreams
  • Archetypes are familiar, yet heightened ideas of ways of being human
  • Archetypes are ultimately indefinable, yet instantly recognizable, unlike stereotypes
  • Archetypes are not stereotypes, which are fixed, simplified conceptions of ways of being.
  • Archetypes are paradoxes that provides the actor with the ability to ‘be’ the character s/he is playing without ever ‘not being’ him or her true self – in other words, essentially alive and transformative.
These techniques are based on the mask work training of John Wright (“Masks of the Archetypes”), and Frankie Armstrong (“Voices of the Archetype”). Flloyd Kennedy has adapted and developed the techniques to encompass working with text, and to examine the process of acting itself.