My name is Kevin Page and I am an actor, author, and psychologist. My latest book, Advanced Consciousness Training (A.C.T.) for Actors will be coming out from international publishing house, Routledge Press, in 2018. In this blog, I will be sharing updates and announcements about the book and some of the wonderful people I interviewed while writing it.
ACT for Actors is basically a meditation manual for actors, performers (of any kind), and artists in general that want to improve their attention span, personal presence, and overall creativity within their chosen craft, be that stage, screen, or painter’s easel.
I should probably start with a little information about myself. I was trained in a very high-end acting conservatory, Meadows School of the Arts at SMU in Dallas, Texas, in the mid-1980s. There, I was literally immersed in acting lessons, vocal training (I studied Kristen Linklater’s work, who I later interviewed for this book!), and intensive movement training, including mask-work and stage combat. It turns out that that is still the same model for “classical actor training” that the vast majority of conservatory programs, particularly in America, continue to offer today. For me, it was good training and it led to a 30-year career on stage and in films and television. You can find my professional credits here on IMDB.com: Kevin Page Resume.
A little over ten years ago, I became interested in psychology and started studying at the graduate-level. It was a long journey, but I recently completed a Master’s degree in psychology and have written a book about the history of psychology in the 1960s and 70s called, The Fourth Force: A Biography of Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychologies (SUNY Press) that will also be coming out in 2018. The particular type of psychology that caught my interest was what today is called “positive psychology.” It’s basically the study of healthy human development, instead of pathology and mental disease, and looks at things like expanded human consciousness and the best qualities of humanity. This study led me to take up a personal meditation practice and to become interested in the related field of consciousness studies. What I started to notice was that much of what I was doing in my Zen meditation practice, reminded me of the kinds of things we had done as young acting students some three decades before.
I started to do some research, a process that ultimately stretched over a period of ten years, and discovered some important facts. First, actor training on the whole, at least at the conservatory-level, has still not really changed that much from the mid-1980s when I was at the academy. Most serious actor training still involves a menu of acting, usually Stanislavsky-based, voice and movement training. Interestingly enough, I found very few programs that included any form of meditative or mindfulness training for their students. This struck me as strange because, in the ensuing years since I was at school, much research has been done on meditation practice and mindfulness had become very common in our society. Furthermore, the kinds of well-documented qualities that meditation training develops, are precisely the kinds of qualities most highly valued by the acting community: superior attentional control, heightened self-awareness, and improved executive mental functioning particularly under stress (like while doing a play!) So, it seemed very strange indeed that the actor training programs that I investigated for my book, had not yet embraced meditation and mindfulness practices across the board!
I decided to do something about that, and the result of my efforts is the book A.C.T. for Actors. I interviewed acting trainers, mostly the Chairs of acting departments, at some of the top acting conservatories in America and across Europe. These programs include: Yale School of Drama, The Julliard School, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA in London), Rutgers University, Columbia University, SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, the American Conservatory Theatre, USC’s drama program, and others. I also contacted writers and acting theorists such as, Anne Bogart, Phillip B. Zarrilli, Sharon Carnicke, Catherine Fitzmaurice, and Kristen Linklater. Many of these important figures in actor training were very generous with their time in helping me to understand the state of the actor training world today and how I might best formulate a program that could be successfully taken up at the conservatory-level as well as by individual practitioners that simply wanted to make their own work more powerful.
The resulting book then, is both an analysis of actor training in our postmodern era and a formula for how to extend it with serious meditation training and other consciousness expanding/strengthening practices that I have aggregated from all over the world. If you have never tried meditation practice, the forthcoming book can be your guide to heightened attentional control and enhanced creativity. The numerous benefits of meditation practice are widely documented and my book will present a number of research studies that support the idea of including it as a regular part of almost any actor’s daily routine. You can look at ACT training as similar to a workout in the gym for your physical body. Meditation is like weightlifting, or jogging, (whichever metaphor you prefer) for the mind. I can’t think of any actor I have ever known that would not benefit from, and personally value, a clearer head and an intensified ability to direct their attention during their creative process or performance. ACT for Actors can help you accomplish exactly that and perhaps more. It will mostly depend on what you do with the information you find there.
So, please check in with this blog site often. I will publish additional support material for the book along with information that is germane to the general topic of actors’ conscious awareness. And you will also find some surprises along the way. Several of the trainers and theorists I interviewed have agreed to supply content for this blog. Shortly, for instance, I will be re-posting a very powerful post from Anne Bogart’s blog.
As you probably already know, Anne is the head of the directing program at Columbia University as well as the co-author of The Viewpoints Book, with Tina Landau. (Buy Viewpoints on Amazon.com.) She is also Co-artistic Director of SITI Company in New York City, a theatre group and actor training program she co-founded with Tadashi Suzuki. There will be many other surprise guests as well, so please SHARE this site and come back often!
I look forward to sharing this evolution of the art of acting and performance through greater consciousness, self-awareness, and a broader horizon for understanding self and others. This is the promise of Advanced Consciousness Training for Actors!
About the Author. Kevin Page is an actor, author and psychologist who writes about mindfulness meditation and other healthy mind/body training techniques. His Book, Advanced Consciousness Training for Actors (Routledge, 2018) teaches both stage and screen actors how to use various meditative arts to improve their abilities as performers. He has two other books on psychology scheduled for publication in 2018, Psychology for Actors (Routledge), and The Fourth Force: A Biography of Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology (SUNY Press). His article, The Genius of Meditation, was recently published as a feature for Mensa Bulletin (June 2017 issue), the official publication of American Mensa Association, with 55,000 monthly subscribers. Kevin Page’s Website