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Inner Activity, Human Aura, Actor's Presence

We looked (again) this week at what Chekhov calls "inner activity." Someone brought up the concept of the human aura.

The aura radiates from the human body like the spokes of a wheel radiate from the wheel's hub. Indeed, the Sanskrit root "at", means the spoke of a wheel. 

Alternatively, the Latin term for aura means "air." The aura is in fact a kind of aerial emanation. It is sometimes called the "psychic atmosphere" or "magnetic atmosphere" of a person. 

Michael Chekhov calls it the "personal atmosphere" of a character.

You can find a lot of scientific (and psuedo-scientific) writing on the subject of auras. 

Writing from a strictly scientific point of view, Rudolf Steiner says this:

"The color effects perceptible to the spirit(ual) eye that ray out around the physical human being observed in his activity and that envelop him like a somewhat egg-shaped cloud are the human aura. The size of this aura varies in different people, but we may say that the entire human being appears on the average twice as long and four times as wide as the physical human being.

The most varied shades of color flood the aura. This color flooding is a true picture of the inner human life. As this changes, so do the shades of color change. Certain permanent qualities such as talents, habits and traits of character, however, express themselves also in permanent fundamental color shades."

Michael Chekhov suggests to imagine an Ideal Center high in the chest. A center full of activity (energy-movement-gesture....) Picture it as a golden-yellow sun, warm and light-filled. Imagine the rays shining out - radiating - in all directions. Raying out beyond the limits of the physical body and into the immediate and even infinite space. ...

In this way, the actor develops and strengthens his or her inner activity, his or her inner power. 

And, in turn, the aura. 

Which is to say, the actor's presence.