Spirituality, Psychics and Theater
“I grew up in a family that was not religious. So I felt free to explore my spirituality in the way I wanted to,” explains intuitive hypnotherapist, acting teacher and CBS radio host Kyra Oser. “So I think that helped me to stay open to exploring this realm from a very early age without fear of criticism.”
Oser combines the intuitive arts and her training in theater to help creative people overcome blocks. She teaches theatermakers to use channeling, automatic writing and mediumship to enhance their work. Oser also co-hosts the CBS radio show, “Zodiac Divas” with psychic Lynn Miller. They interview celebrities and take calls from listeners looking for advice about relationships.
Combining her two interests wasn’t always so obvious. After getting a Masters of Arts in Drama from San Francisco State University, Oser performed on television and theater. She also wrote and directed plays in Southern California. Oser then went on to become a college professor of theater arts at Moorpark College and Oxnard College in California. It seemed like a very conventional path.
“I was doing this work as an intuitive consultant simultaneously with being a theater arts instructor, but I didn’t mention the intuitive work I was doing with my students or with any faculty. I kept the two worlds very separate.”
But at some point, Oser realized the two worlds weren’t so distinct after all. “Theater originated as spiritual ritual. So the two merged in early tribal societies, and even today, theater is an opportunity to be communal, to have something like a tribal society, where everyone is working together for a common purpose,” she says.
Putting theater and the intuitive arts together was a natural fit. “I work with people who are atheist, agnostic, monotheistic, polytheistic. I’ve worked with people who are evangelical and people who have never had any religion at all and have no interest in it. I have even worked with people who have been in cults in the past. I am definitely open to working with people who have no spiritual beliefs, as long as they are willing to do the work,” Oser says.
Then she adds, “It’s not necessary to have a belief in God in order to be a spiritual being.”
Similarities between Theatermakers and Mediums
“Spirituality plays a big part in theater because I believe that a truly good actor is channeling something from another realm, either their own subconscious mind, the collective unconscious or spirits from the other side,” Oser says.
She continues. “If they are channeling, then they’ve set aside their ego to create something that can have a meaningful message for their audience.” That process is very similar to that of a psychic.
“There’s sense memory of the method actor, which is similar to the senses a psychic uses. Only the actor derives it from their own experiences and the psychic does it on behalf of their clients,” she says.
Oser also sees similarities between playwrights and mediums. “I believe that playwriting is a spiritual act. If you’re playwriting and you’re working as a channel, and you open up to receiving what is coming through, it’s possible to get into the mode of doing automatic writing. Which is a class I was just teaching the other night: Automatic Writing for Mediums. Automatic Writing is basically something that happens without conscious thought so it would be coming from your subconscious mind which some surrealists believe was the case,” Oser says.
“It could be coming from the collective unconscious, which other surrealist playwrights believe was the case. Or Jean Cocteau believed when he was writing plays. It could be something that is channeled from a spirit in the afterlife. So writing is a wonderful mechanism for bringing through information from something extrinsic to yourself,” she says.
Theater that Lacks Spirituality
According to Oser, it is possible for any creative act to lack spirituality. It all depends on the intention of the people involved. If the primary purpose of a theater production is to make money, she says, it is more likely to lack spirituality because of that intention. But if the primary purpose is to express something genuine without concern for profit, it is freer to become a spiritual act.
“I think about Grotowski’s ‘Poor Theater,’ and how that is so rooted in taking away the physical elements and getting to the most spiritual part of deriving truth from the script and from the performances of the actors,” she says. “I don’t think it’s always necessary to have a lot of props, scenery, and high-end costumes in order to create a meaningful production. If a production is truly spiritual, then it doesn’t need a lot of physical elements. However, physical elements can add to it, as long as that’s not the primary purpose of the piece.”
Common Problems with Theatermakers
Oser notes that self-consciousness is one of the biggest problems for theatermakers, particularly actors. “When you are aware of the self, it’s difficult to see beyond yourself in order to create something that has universal meaning… I find that when I work with actors who have a spiritual block, I like to put them into hypnosis. I studied hypnotherapy at Hypnosis Motivation Institute, and I regularly integrate hypnotherapy in my acting classes and into my mediumship workshop. So when we do the hypnotherapy, I will work on someone’s issues that are blocking them as an actor.”
Actors might need help with confidence, performance anxiety or relationship issues. She says these issues might stem from early childhood or previous lifetimes. Once the blocks are gone, she then teaches self-hypnosis to help actors relax before a performance or audition. During self-hypnosis, actors can go into a trance-like state to channel something that is beyond their egos or experiences.
She also encourages her acting students to approach each audition as an opportunity to explore and express their spirituality. They should not be attached to the outcome. If they take steps to meditate or pray before an audition or interview, then they are turning the results over to a Divine Consciousness. They can then use acting as a way to commune with spirit, rather than as a means to fame, money or recognition.
“When I give people prayers to do before they do an acting performance… I’m telling them that they can start it out with either God, gods, the Universe, nature, or fill in the blank, whatever you believe in. And the prayer is still just as effective because I believe prayer is a form of self-hypnosis,” she says.
Is it hard to work with atheists? What is theater’s role in American society? Also, advice for actors and empaths. Listen to an excerpt of the interview.
Oser believes that theater is particularly potent art form. The communal ritual and suspension of disbelief form a kind of hypnosis.
“When you’re watching a film, and you forget the people around you but just become involved in the life of the character onscreen, that’s being in a state of hypnosis. Theater is a wonderful opportunity to create a state of mass hypnosis. In fact, one of the original forms of hypnosis was religious ritual. Having someone onstage who is a religious authority, wearing special robes. There’s incense. People in the audience are chanting. They’re going into a state of hypnosis. And through that, we have the power to affect a great deal of change in our society, with the messages that we have in theater. I believe that in person, it can be a lot more powerful than even something onscreen because you’re participating in a community ritual. And that has a stronger impact on a person than simply watching something on Netflix,” she says.
Co-Creating in a Spiritual Theater
No matter what you believe, Oser notes, acting is a highly competitive profession. Creating a supportive atmosphere is vital. “In order to maintain that noncompetitive atmosphere, I wanted to emphasize that if you acknowledge something outside of yourself, like nature, what the Native Americans call “Great Spirit”… I don’t think you can go wrong with your acting. It also takes the pressure off because you’re not there to impress, achieve or for any gain whatsoever. You’ve simply shown up to participate in a co-creation with the Divine,” she says.
“… And ultimately, what we can look at is the world was here before us, it’ll be here after us. And so there is some higher consciousness beyond who we are. And whatever that higher consciousness is, if it’s nature in the earth itself or if it’s something more than that, there is something greater than all of us. And by acknowledging that, it’s easier to be humble, and to let go of the ego. And I believe that letting go of the ego is the most crucial element to becoming an actor and to gain in that greater empathy that we were talking about earlier.”