Inspiring Quotations

Psychic projection

The term “psychic projection” occurs in Steven Berkoff’s Three Theatre Manifestos which were originally published together with his adaptations of Kafka’s The Trial and Metamorphosis in Gambit vol 8 no 32, and are now very hard to find.

I first read this when I was a student, and the term ‘psychic projection’ stuck in my mind. What on earth did he mean? I have since experienced a feeling of exercising it myself – of having the sensation (perhaps self-delusional) of projecting not only my voice but something more directly into the audience’s minds.

I sometimes read this out during workshops, usually in answer to questions at the end, when I’m asked whether I would consider doing naturalistic acting or what type of acting I prefer:

“Actors are required today to be natural and real, with less use of their skills in the imaginative expression of their work, but using more of their skill for non-skills in imitating regional accents, being a worker or a member of the upper classes. The real skills of psychic projection, demoniacal power, movement, acrobatics, mime or wide vocal range are now barely needed. Fidelity to reality has become the criterion of excellence. We have moved from illumination to deception.

Extract from “Three Theatre Manifestos.” (1978) Gambit vol.32 p.7-21