I've had to learn a lot about Patsy Rodenburg's concept of The Second Circle for my drama literature review. It's all very exciting, and I couldn't resist spilling out my new knowledge here.
Rodenburg is the world famous voice and acting coach who taught stars like Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, and Natalie Portman.
Even though she directs her concept of The Second Circle to actors, it is also amazingly relevant to every person in everyday life. It is all about connection, being present, and being intimate.
She identifies 3 circles of energy. Everyone uses all 3 as times, and it's often necessary to flit between them. They are:
The First Circle: First Circle energy is inwardly focused on yourself. It's disconnected from others, and 'past-tense', often quiet or trailing off.
The Third Circle: Third Circle energy is generalised and pushed out from yourself, too big and too loud, 'future-tense', like actors performing Shakespeare.
THE SECOND CIRCLE: Second Circle energy is the circle of survival. It is the circle of alertness and presence necessary to survive. Patsy Rodenburg explains that babies are born in this circle of energy in order to survive, and she describes how park rangers in Africa live every moment in this Second Circle of alertness to stay safe from the dangers of the jungle.
Second Circle energy is also the circle of intimacy. In this circle, you are completely connected, communal, and vulnerable with those around you. Patsy Rodenburg explains that this is the circle of energy in which great love and connection is born.
She also says suggests that paying attention to diaphragm breathing and posture helps to maintain your presence in the Second Circle of energy.
Learning about this concept has given me so much to think about in the last few months. I am currently putting a lot of conscious effort into being in Second Circle as often as possible, and immediately I noticed the changes.
Firstly, people smile at me more. Even just random people on the street.
Secondly, I enjoy conversations with people much more. I can talk and talk to people very deeply and passionately for long periods of time without feeling anxious or stupid, and I enjoy listening to others more, without getting bored. I definitely feel like the connections I make are real, rather than superficial.
The Second Circle is a beautiful thing to pay attention to, because it's so easy to be disconnected or inwardly-focused all the time, while it gives you the ability to make community and be connected.
I strongly recommend that you watch Patsy Rodenburg's video in which she explains the 3 circles in her own words:
Also, this interview with Wow! Women on Writing gives a lot of information on the benefits of The Second Circle, the disadvantages of modern living, and ways in which The Second Circle can be achieved and maintained, and how it can positively influence so many aspects of your life.