In Mythic Imagination and the Actor, Marissa Chibás draws on over three decades of experience as a Latinx actor, writer, filmmaker, and teacher to offer an approach to acting that embraces collective imagination, archetypal work, and the mythic.
The book begins with a comparative analysis between method acting and mythic acting, encouraging actors to push past the limits of singular life experience and move to a realm where imagination and metaphor thrive. In the context of mythic acting, the book explores awareness work, solo performance creation, the power of archetypes, character building exercises, creating a body/text connection, and how to be the detective of your own process. Through this inclusive guide for a new age of diverse performers traversing gender, ability, culture, and race, readers are able to move beyond their limits to a deep engagement with the infinite possibilities of rich imagination. The final chapter empowers and motivates artists to live healthfully within the practice and create a personal artistic vision plan.
Written for actors and students of acting, American Drama, and film and theatre studies, Mythic Imagination and the Actor provides practical exercises and prompts to unlock and interpret an actor’s deepest creative sources.
Table of Contents
1. The Mythic Sense 2. Laying The Ground Work 3. Archetypes 4. Noir 5. The Body Text Connection 6. Spoken Improvs 7. What Pro-Wrestlers Taught Me About Acting 8. Solo Performance 9. Artistic Visioning
Marissa Chibás is a Los Angeles-based writer, filmmaker, actor, educator, and recipient of the TCG Fox Fellowship for Distinguished Achievement. She is on the Theater School faculty at California Institute of the Arts where she is Director of Duende CalArts, an initiative at CalArts Center for New Performance that produces innovative Latinx and Latin American artists. Her work as an actor has been seen on Broadway and on major stages throughout the world and her solo show, Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary, has toured the U.S., Europe, and Mexico and was published by Routledge Press. For more information, visit www.marissachibas.com.
"A beautifully written exploration of the key aspects of the actor's craft as seen through the lense of mythology, imagination, spirituality, and the hero's quest. Essential reading for all artists willing (and needing) to challenge themselves to replace the literal with the poetic in their work and in their lives. Rigorous exercises guide the participant and inspire them to connect with their joy, their dreams, the metaphors of their lives, and the secret oracle energy lurking there to fully embrace and become the artist they were destined to be. As Marissa Chibas states, drawing from profound experiences over three decades as an actor and teacher, "You will be led toward placing the magical and wondrous forward in your work." A game changer!"
José Rivera, Playwright of Marisol and Academy Award nominee for The Motorcycle Diaries
"Sages, tricksters, femme fatales, and wrestlers swarm the pages of this remarkable book by Ms. Chibás. In crafting an approach to acting that is transformational, she has achieved something even more special: a book that is not only about to how act, but how to live."
Octavio Solis, writer of Lydia, Mother Road and Retablos
"The beauty of this work is that it reminds you that your power is within you, not outside of you, and all you have to do is to listen to your internal voice and the intelligence of the body to allow you to access your greatest artistic self."
Nataki Garrett, Artistic Director Oregon Shakespeare Festival
"Most acting training is based on methods first developed in the 19th century, focused in manipulating the actor and their body as instrument, in order to create emotional states. Actors explore objectives, super objectives, wants and tactics. Few have asked if this releases an actor's soul, their ability to create poetry on stage or is supportive of BIPOC actors. This is why Chibas' book is so necessary and refreshing. She deftly releases the full range of an actor's power and imagination, tapping into more ancient traditions, from Cuba, Africa, Egypt, even Eleusianian mysteries, in an accessible and frank text. An invaluable addition to any actor's, teacher's, director's or university's bookshelf--brava!"
Elaine Ávila, Fulbright Scholar, Visiting Professor/Playwright in Residence, Pomona College, Quest University, Western Washington University
"For Any Actor/Artist Marissa’s Book is essential to understanding and applying a deeper(mythic) Approach to the Craft as well as to life itself. She has been a mentor and inspiration to me and many other Artist who have gained substantially from her knowledge. This Book is a MUST READ".
Ron Cephas Jones, Two-time Emmy Award Winning Actor
"This book will inform and impact the future of acting training […] A revelatory performance manual and manifesto for the 21st century actor […] integrates invaluable references to mythology, ancestral wisdom, the study of archetypes, and film noir, to name a few."
Dawn Akemi Saito, Multi-disciplinary theatre artist, Faculty at Fordham University, and Juilliard Drama
"This book is filled with exercises to enliven the imagination of the actor."
Cynthia Santos-DeCure, actor, voice and dialect professor, Yale School of Drama
"…to imbue actors with a sense of curiosity, power, and wild courage when it comes to engaging ideas that I call ‘Ancient Future’ that straddle time and space and multiple cultural formations. This book will unlock something in your practice."
Daniel Alexander Jones, American Playwright, Performance Artist
"These are organic and accessible actions and processes summoned from a collective memory and re-gifted to the artist who may have become disconnected from the power and pleasure of the body in space. Chibas’ book is inherently a decolonial pedagogy."
Mónica Sánchez, Actor, Writer, Theater/Dance Faculty at Colorado College
"I was compelled to ask myself, ‘What am I passionate about?’ With that, I settled in and did the Centering exercise…right where I was. The exercise proved to be transformative. I was relaxed in the way we need to be in order to begin our creative work. I was ‘resting up’, open and free, ready to go wherever the spirit lead me. Marissa’s voice is so clear, inviting and trusting. Mythic Imagination and the Actor is for me, a new ‘way in’, and we need it."
Charlayne Woodard, Tony award-winning playwright and actress
"Extremely vital and extremely helpful process, especially for young actors. It’s something that I truthfully see myself using in every project, no matter if it’s theater or film or voice over, it is the base and the core to my craft."
Emilio Garcia Sanchez, CalArts alum, actor known for The Society, Mijo, Criminal Minds
"…a clear path for artists to develop integrity in their creative practice while nurturing their capacity to serve as healers and spiritual visionaries."
Mirah Love, Interfaith Spiritual Counselor and Artistic Mentor
"As someone who has experienced many of these exercises first hand in the classroom, I can’t express enough the power and duende that is possible when exploring and applying these sacred techniques and exercises."
Cristina Frias, Actor and Professor of Acting East LA College
"…it is an incredibly expansive tool for me in my acting process."
Andrea LeBlanc, Actor, Associate Dean and co-head of BFA Acting, CalArts
"Marissa filled my toolbox, and in this toolbox were all these different exercises that I could use to explore my characters."
"It was a gift to learn to utilize the mythic imagination, how to become a detective, how to utilize archetypes and apply those archetypes energies to my characters."
Simone Holmes, Actor, CalArts alum
"Some of the skills and the tools that I’ve learned from Marissa are the tools that I carry every day into all aspects of my artistic practice. Not only in my acting but also in my playwriting, and the reason for that is that I feel that it allows me to excavate deeper, to make bolder and bigger discoveries than I would have without manifesting that magic, without allowing the mythic into my practice."
Sarahjeen Francois, CalArts Alum, 2020-21 Core Apprentice Playwright
"You will find more in you as a performer than you ever thought possible."
"….it really taught me how I can incorporate my spirituality, my faith, my beliefs into every character…it allows me to have that grounded foundation of life and marrying it with the words on the page."
"These exercises have reminded me that I do have something to say, that I do have something to offer, and that I am powerful, and I don’t have to wait for opportunities, I can create them."
"Her work got us all to tap back into the roots of theater, the desire to stand by a fire and tell a story. She helped me reconnect to that ancestral, primal urge that made me want to become an actor."
"The archetypes give the actor a shortcut to an immediate reservoir of emotion and physicality and gesture and energy and sensibility. They allow the actor to go very deep in their work, quite quickly."
Hector Alvarez, MFA Directing student CalArts