Circles of Presence

Circles of Presence

The voice coach Patsy Rodenburg talks eloquently in her TED talk about why she does theatre. It’s quite a moving story she tells at the end, and she says many things that reinforce the way that we work at ACS Studio. Truth. Presence. Being in the Moment.

She also explains her theories on circles of presence and I wanted to share my version of it with you today. I will roughly stick to Patsy’s explanation of the Three Circles. And then I will paraphrase around it. I don’t claim to be repeating Patsy’s ideas as such as exploring them in this blog.

First Circle:  Your focus is on yourself, it is manifested in an averted gaze and a body that is collapsed and disconnected. You speak to yourself. It’s not always a bad thing, sometimes the performance needs to be held here, but only for a moment or two. At it’s worst, you are hiding your presence away inside you.

Second Circle:  You are fully present, you are in the moment. Your focus is placed outside yourself. You speak to affect the other. As a speaker, a poet, an actor, a lawyer, a musician, a politician, – any role that requires presence, this is the circle you need to remain in. Here you connect with people, here you make a true connection, hold the audience rapt because they know that you are truly present and entirely connected to the OTHER.

Third Circle: A generalised connection outwards but not specifically to a person or people. You speak not to affect, but to the Ether, into space, you speak in general and often too loudly. This is the state people often do their monologues in. They forget they are attempt to affect someone in every moment. The third circle, playing everything to the Gods, you speak in general, you act in general, you affect no one.

The temptation whenever you act, is to become wrapped up in yourself, your lines, your blocking, your actions, but your performance takes on a whole different level, when you start noticing the world outside yourself.

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