Blog Post Source: Anna McGrath
THE CAPE, THE CROWN AND THE LIGHT is a simple exercise that can have profound effects on your body and mind. It’s a great technique to employ whenever you’re feeling tired, stressed or challenged, and particularly useful to reenergise and feel empowered as we undergo such radical change in our daily lives.
This technique was recently shared with Dr. Peter Selvaratnam by Anna McGrath, an Australian theatre and film director. It’s an exercise she learnt during her Masters in Fine Arts – Directing at the National Institute of Dramatic Art.
As she explained, our imaginations are incredibly powerful resources to reconfigure our attitudes, our postures, our confidence and our mood. Whilst this exercise might feel like a return to childhood, it can have incredible positive effects on our adult lives that are so often busy, tiring and stressful.
The effects of this exercise not only help you as an individual but can have a positive impact on your social and professional encounters. We underestimate how the way we carry our bodies can influence how we feel in ourselves and how this can affect how others feel around us. If we walk into a meeting looking down, with a slouched back, with a tired demeanour we will be unconsciously influencing the mood of everyone in the room. The way we carry ourselves impacts the atmosphere we share with others – whether that’s at work, at home or in social situations.
This exercise engages our imagination to rediscover the power of our body over our mind. It helps us reignite our energy and engage our unique powers – all with a sense of ease and fun!
It can be done as a group or as an individual. Once it has been practiced physically, it can then even be used as a simple visualisation exercise if you don’t have the time or space to do it in person.
So… what to do?
- Walk around the room in a neutral manner – medium pace, relaxed movements, not heading for any particular direction but moving around the entire space for 1 – 3 minutes
- Imagine a BOX sitting somewhere on the floor in the room. It’s a simple closed box.
- Imagine inside the box is a CAPE – this is uniquely your cape – create it in your imagination before you approach the box. What colour is it? What material? Is it heavy? What style? This is the cape of your dreams. Try to picture as many of its qualities before you approach the box.
- Arrive at the box, open it, take out your imagined cape and put it on. Now walk around the room wearing this cape – how does it feel to wear it? Did you need to tie it on, or clip it? Does it drag behind you on the ground or does it float in the air? What does it do to the way you walk? What does it do to your posture? What happens to the cape when you turn or change direction? Walk around for a few moments feeling how it is to walk in your cape.
- Now imagine a CROWN that is inside the box – this is uniquely your crown. Just like the cape this is your opportunity to imagine what would your crown look like, how would it feel? What is it made out of? Is it like a royal crown, or a fantasy crown? Heavy, light, bejewelled, flowers? Create a detailed image of the crown in your mind before you approach the box.
- Arrive at the box, open it, take out your imagined crown and put it on your head. Now walk around the room wearing your cape and your crown. How does it feel to wear your crown? Is it heavy on your head? Does it change the way you walk, does it change your posture? Does it change your eyeline?
- Now imagine a LIGHT inside the box – this is uniquely your light. What does this light look like? What colour? Is it bright or gentle? Is it large or tiny? Create a sense of what this light is like before you approach the box.
- Arrive at the box, open it, take out your light and place it on your chest. Now, how does it feel to walk around the room wearing your cape, your crown and shining your light from our chest? How does it light the path ahead of you? Does it change the way you walk? Does it change your expression? How does your body feel?
- Now approach your challenging situation taking with you all the sensations you’ve discovered whilst wearing your cape, crown and light. Feel how different your body occupies space, note the difference in how you walk and see how differently you look upon the world.
This exercise helps develop confidence and gravitas and reminds us that simply adjusting the movement and posture of our bodies can have a huge impact on our behaviour, our attitude, our power and how we are understood in the world.
Anna McGrath is currently in Melbourne, but usually lives and works in Paris where she recently undertook a twelve month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts. She has a Masters in Film & Television from VCA and a Masters in Fine Arts – Directing from NIDA. She writes and directs for stage and screen. Her films have won awards and screened at festivals around the world and her theatre productions have been performed in Sydney, Melbourne and Paris. Her company REVEILLE, in partnership with Matteo R. Bernardini, collaborates with artists, performers and venues around the world to create multidisciplinary projects designed to push boundaries and provoke questions.