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Creative mastery

The Mastery workshop is coming to Hastings.  I’ve long been curious about The Mastery workshops, writes HOT’s Zelly Restorick, having seen notices publicising them over the years – and when someone suggested HOT speak to workshop leader, Christine Kimberley, I volunteered.

The Mastery is a three day workshop, ‘inviting you to discover more about who you are as an individual and to explore your creativity within a supportive environment.’

The workshops began in 1976, created by Dan Fauci, head of comedy development at Paramount Pictures, known for his involvement with Cheers. These original workshops were designed to help actors and performers get beyond blockages in their chosen career path. Now the Mastery has evolved to be accessible to everyone, moving into the realm of personal and professional development.

‘What’s important’, says Christine, ‘is that you want to do the course.  If someone from work has put you forward for it because they think you need it, this won’t work.  You need to want to do it and right from the start, we want to know what you want to get out of the time and money you’re investing.

‘Blocks are reinforced when we’re not fulfilled’, she continues.  ‘We build up a belief system and we tell ourselves that it’s our truth and then we spend the rest of our lives confirming this.


Illustration by Lorna Hamilton Brown

The Mastery, she suggests, ‘can help you to move forward and progress beyond this. There’s no set agenda, everyone has their unique individual goal or goals – and sometimes, I’ve seen people find their goals change at some point over the two to three days.’

Building confidence, moving beyond a plateau, letting go of issues, wanting to get more out of life – or step beyond a comfort zone are all possible goals participants may have.

‘We say to people : “see your reality as it is, own it and then create from there”, says Christine. ‘There’s a huge amount of permission on the course – about your self-expression and creativity.  If your self-expression has been curbed in any way – by your fears or habits – you can carry on doing what you always do and getting what you always get.

‘The workshop is about offering people opportunities to move forward – and they have plenty of time and space to move, both internally and externally. People often surprise themselves – and others – as the experience becomes safer and safer for them to risk stepping out of their comfort zone.’

And while you’re participating in theatre games and structured exercises using voice, physical and emotional expression, ‘a willingness to play is useful’, added Christine with a smile.

Over 30,000 people have participated in Mastery workshops all around the world.  Christine testifies to this, recounting stories of bumping into graduates and leaders on her travels, as far away as Peru.

Christine Kimberley

Christine Kimberley

Christine grew up in a performing family, training at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and working as an actress  and later as a director.  Her mother had been a child performer on the stage in music hall and variety, later giving up her career to manage her husband, Christine’s father, a famous ventriloquist and, from the photos on the website, an amazingly beautiful female impersonator.

‘My grandmother used to work as an usherette at The Strand Theatre’, Christine explained. ‘I used to see a lot of plays.  I remember wandering around the empty theatre at one time, seeing the beautiful red curtains and the red seats – and I said to myself “this is where I want to be”.

I asked Christine to tell me about a ‘magnificent moment’ from her acting and directing career.

‘I auditioned for a part once – and I became love sick for the play’, said Christine, placing her hands on her heart, miming just how intense the experience was.  ‘I mean, I really loved this play. I had all the symptoms of falling in love.

Tea for 2

Tea 4 2 by Lorna Hamilton-Brown

‘Luckily I got the job – and through the month of rehearsal and the month of performance, I also fell in love with the writer. I fell in love with his words – and then in love with him. We’ve been together now for twenty five years.’

She took part in The Mastery herself in 1983, finding it to be a very powerful experience.

‘I’d heard people talk about it for a couple of years, but it hadn’t seemed right.’ On a coach on her way to visit Greenham Common, it crossed her path again  and she felt differently.  ‘I had no pre-conceived ideas about it. Friends said to me “whatever they ask you to do, just do it”. By the end of the weekend, I was totally blown away. I felt like for the first time in my life I’d been seen.’

I asked her to elaborate on what it meant to her to be seen.

‘I felt like I’d been seen for my looks before – I was very pretty when I was younger’, she says as an aside, smiling ‘and I was seen as the daughter of my father.  But in front of the Mastery facilitator and the group, I truly felt like I was seen for the first time in my life. I felt validated. I had a sense that I was okay as I was.’

For people to know they are okay as they are seems to be an important aspect of The Mastery.  Along with the belief that they already know everything they need to know – and The Mastery can help them to connect with it.

She has since lead around 60 workshops, believing it to be ‘one of the most potent and valuable contributions to the late 20th century phenomenon of personal growth and development’.

On The Edge

On The Edge by Christine Kimberley Photo by Chris Hamilton-Brown

Christine has also written a book about the Mastery course, ‘On The Edge’, including entries from Dan Fauci, Cheers’ Ted Danson, who was one of the first Mastery participants and subsequently became a teacher himself – and workshop leaders from around the world.  The eye-catching illustrations are from local artist and woman of many talents, Lorna Hamilton-Brown.

‘Everyone is creative’, said Christine.  ‘And we all chime to the humanity in each other.  The Mastery experience will resonate within everyone in a totally unique way.’


The Mastery Workshop, Hastings, 15–17 March 2013

Christine’s website here.
Find out more about The Mastery UK here.

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Posted 08:05 Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013 In: Home Ground

Also in: Home Ground

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