Energy, in physics, is defined as “the capacity for doing work”. It may exist in potential, kinetic, thermal, electrical, chemical, or nuclear form, or in a range of other forms. There are, moreover, heat and work (i.e., “energy in the process of transfer from one body to another” [Brittanica.com]). I may be getting all scientific on you, but let’s just read this definition again: the process of transfer from one body to another. Wow. If that is not describing the exact intended effect that I want my audience to experience, I don’t know what is!
Many will say energy isn’t real or that it is all “woo-woo”, but I can assure you it is very real. Besides the fact that I am from New Jersey and extremely down to Earth (if you couldn’t tell already!), I am anything but a “woo-woo” kind of person; I don’t like to talk about things that are nebulous and imaginary. But energy is real.
Have you ever walked into a room and thought, Whoa, what the hell is going on in here? Like the energy just felt off? Maybe someone just had a fight or received heartbreaking news. Regardless, we pick up on the energy because we are human, and it is our sixth sense at play here.
What about if you get in a fight with someone and you separate for a while and then cross paths again to find they are giving you the silent treatment? Do you feel that? Oh, yes—and it totally sucks, doesn’t it? Maybe they even throw you a death stare! Did you feel that? Yup. Fun? No. Effective? Yes.
What about feeling attracted to someone? Do you feel that energy? We can pretend it isn’t there all we want, but our bodies are literally being compelled together with someone else’s. If that isn’t an example of energy at its finest, I really don’t know what else is!
And finally, how about that feeling of being territorial over something—or, better yet, someone? Can you feel when your body feels threatened or wants to do the threatening? Yup, energy is the culprit here!
Now that we know energy exists and is crazy-powerful in the way we experience it in life, what happens when energy is off? When a scene derails because of energy, it is usually down to your connection—to your scene partner, to the material, or to yourself. It feels right when we are focused, connected, prepared, and can trust our process. Hence, we need a practical way to work on our energy; we need to practice our attention when it comes to noticing and understanding our energy and its full power.
So, to go back to the question of whether you can focus energy, the answer is a definitive yes; it is what allows a person to chop a wooden block in half with their bare hands!
Now, why would we want to focus energy as storytellers? Well, remember how we spoke earlier about being effective? To be effective, we need to affect our audience—and a concrete way to do that is through using energy. The trick is that energy must have a destination for it to be effective; otherwise, it is just chaotic, overwhelming, and straight-up confusing.
Focusing energy as a character will call on you to use your imagination, as well as simulation. We will practice what it is like to make an energetic transaction later (which is fancy terms for “letting the moment land”).
Is there a wrong way to do this? Well, no, but there is a less effective way to do this. In the worst version, energy can splash everywhere, and the transaction can be incomplete; ineffective, if you will. On the other hand, the effects will be clear when it works: you can feel it; they will feel it. It is as clear as day.
What if you don’t really believe in energy? Well, then why do you pay your energy bills? Because it powers your house and makes your lights turn on!
But I can’t see energy, so how do I know it’s there? Energy compels something to do something. Batteries power a lot of things; electricity powers your home. You can see when the thing turns on. That’s energy. My high school physics teacher would literally have a field day explaining energy to you. Thanks, Mrs. Banks!
So, how many types of energy exist out there in the wide world of physics? Many—too many to count! Within the body, however, there are seven main types of energy we will be using, and we will be breaking them down into what is called an “energy center,” of which we have seven.
This is just the beginning of understanding energy and how we can use it in our work! For a more in depth exploration of our bodies natural “energy centers,” and how to use my signature technique The Chakra Approach® to decode them, check out my book Acting With Energy: Creating Brilliance Take After Take, available on Amazon and all major platforms!
~Murisa Harba (Artistic Director of ABOUT THE WORK)