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Lions Roar : September 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2010 72 ing to pursue traditional theater and film. (When I interviewed him, he regaled me with a rendition of the opening chorus from Henry V: “O for a muse of fire...”) for many years, Mcgaw allowed meditative discipline to leak into his acting. “Then, about five years ago,” he says, “I was study- ing with the revered acting teacher Michael Howard, and I asked Michael if he would like to teach with me. To my great delight, he revealed he had been practicing mindfulness for twenty-five years, and was enthusiastic about the prospect.” Howard and Mcgaw led a weeklong retreat for actors two summers in a row through Tail of the Tiger, an arm of Karmê chöling meditation center in Vermont that presents mindfulness- based programs. “In the morning,” Mcgaw says, “I taught meditation. In the afternoon Michael taught acting. He was my student in the morning and I was his student in the afternoon.” Howard had the actors work on monologues and Mcgaw found himself becoming much “freer, more spontaneous, more joyful” and he observed others transforming over the course of the week, too. for one thing, Howard was able to entice actors to pause and instead of over-preparing on the verge of a speech, “to fully take in the room, absorb the moment, and get out of their head. It sparked a flash of insight, which was very liberating and invigorating.” When Howard, who is in his eighties, was unable to do an- other summer, Mcgaw decided to start Meditation for Actors, always pairing himself with an acting teacher in his sessions. The program includes practical applications of mindfulness—pre- paring for auditions and rehearsals, dealing with stage fright, and riding the ups and downs of an acting career—as well as strong emphasis on bringing meditation to the craft of acting through enhancing spontaneity, self-awareness, emotional authenticity, sensory awareness, and listening. Mcgaw presents the program in half-day and daylong ses- sions, weekend intensives, weeklong retreats, and ongoing weekly classes. In April, he returned to Michael Howard studios to lead a weekend intensive. This summer he will conduct a five-day re- treat, Being and Acting, along with rae c. Wright at shantigar foundation, founded by the playwright Jean-claude van Italie, in rowe, Massachusetts. ♦ PHOTOBYJAnesTeVens Parlan McGaw (right) teaching Meditation for Actors at the Michael Howard Studios, New York City.