Acting by Spirit Influence, by Junius Brutus Booth

All great actors are media for spirit influx. It would be a marvellous sight if the curtain which hangs between the spirit world and the stage were uplifted, and the invisible drama which is being enacted exposed to view. Then would you behold "the airy spirits" to whom Shakspeare so truthfully alludes, moving like comets in gorgeous light around the inspired actor!

Inspiration is motion, acceleration, intensity; it has no part or parcel with lethargy.

I recall my past experience, portions of which I review with regret. In endeavoring to obtain this energy, this motion, this acceleration, I was obliged in my ignorance to resort to artificial means. A knowledge of the laws of spirit life would have enabled me to have avoided this mistake; but that knowledge I did not possess.

The actor of the present day is blessed with the knowledge that he has merely to throw himself into the magnetic state, and become en rapport with spiritual conditions, to find himself inspired inflated with the divine magnetic current which flows from the spirit world to the inhabitants of earth. If a player desires to represent a certain character, let it be the subtle, fiend-like Richard III. or the crafty Richelieu, the customary mode of studying such characters is to endeavor to imagine one's self to be the person. That is the first step towards mediumship; for it is one degree from the natural, towards the superior state. Usually, through ignorance, the student proceeds no further than this point; and the spirit assistants can only partially aid him. But an actor possessing the knowledge of placing himself en rapport with these characters, whether traditional or real, is immediately cut loose from his surroundings and becomes the Richard or Richelieu whom he would personate.

From the brain of every spirit medium ascends a blazing sun, which burns the brighter when the magnetic relations between it and the spirit world are most perfect. This blazing light, this radiant effulgence, is perceived instinctively, though not knowingly, by every individual who listens to a discourse from a "trance medium." So from the brain of the actor this glorious light throws out its rays into the assembly, and when he becomes fully inspired, its magnetic influence is felt with overpowering vividness; and the result is, the audience themselves are set in motion, and from pit to gallery you hear vociferous applause.

There are actors who are good, and who acquire fame, who have never felt this divine afilatus. The intellect of the audience appreciates them for their declamation, for the art and artifice which they manifest; but the humblest and most illiterate of that assembly know well that this studied eloquence does not fire the brain.

But it will not do to trust blindly to spirit control; a knowledge and constant study of human nature is necessary.

It is a well-known fact that a person steadily looking at one point will influence twenty others to look at that point also, and to imagine they see some object before them. Understanding this principle, you may work upon each attribute in the minds of your audience. If fear is to be aroused, do as your neighbor does as he hastily enters your house after meeting with a fearful calamity. You become excited before even hearing the evil which has befallen him. Every faculty can be acted upon in the same manner grief and joy alike.

Of the ventriloquial powers of the human voice, many speakers are ignorant. The tyro on the stage wishing to make the remotest individual in his audience hear, bawls at the top of his lungs. He is unaware that the organs of the human voice are a kind of electrical machine, governed by the will-power, and that the actor has merely to throw his will and direct his mind to a given point, for his voice to reach that point and produce a far more startling effect than the loudest blast that any pair of lungs could bring forth. Thus the lowest whisper can be made to tell at the farthest corner of the theatre.

But perhaps I have said enough of the methods best adapted to produce representations of character on the stage. The question may arise in the mind of the reader, whether there is any opportunity of exercising the talent of acting in the spirit world, supposing that talent to have been cultivated in this.

In the remotest ages, and among the most uncultivated nations, as well as among the most highly civilized, the power of representing human passions and events has been exercised instinctively, showing this power to be as much a portion of the soul's attributes as the gift of thought or of fancy. If one belongs to the immortal condition, the other does also.

One of the chief enjoyments which the all-wise Creator has made attainable to the inhabitants of the starry heavens is that of dramatic representations of life, character, and events, transpiring in the countless worlds that wheel through space.

The field of the actor for depicting the truths of human nature in the world of spirits is vast and unconfined!

Eloquence is appreciated on earth, but that appreciation is weak and tasteless compared with the estimation of that "gift of the gods" by the inhabitants of the summer land.

Some blind, short-sighted investigators tell you there is no speech among us; they would lead you to imagine that we inhabit a world blank and void of sound; that stillness more unbroken than the grave pervades our mysterious realm.

Conjure up the picture in your fancy, reader the soul shrinks back from such a state! The spirit world is all voice. Never have I heard notes clearer, louder, deeper, than resound through the electric air that surrounds my home.

The gift of speaking, and of representing individualities separate from your own identity, is a spiritual gift decidedly; and with us theatres and amphitheatres are as numerous as churches are with you. I will leave the description of these structures for the ready pen and speech of our friend Burton.