What is a hero?
A hero is one who sacrifices their own interests in the service of another or others. A hero can commit themselves to an inner calling, a person, a belief system, a group or community or a nation. The key is service.
There is a structure in storytelling that has existed, we suppose, since the dawn of humanity. It is in nearly every movie we watch, most plays we see. It existed in ancient Egypt and at the same time in China and Mexico…and these cultures were not communicating at the time. So how is this the case? The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung theorized that humans are hardwired with certain information and this storytelling structure, one can suppose, is how we, as humans, view our walk through life.
Heroes must overcome obstacles. They inevitably change on their adventures. They must go into the unknown and must carve a path out for themselves where there was no path before. What is the point of the hero adventure? There are two purposes.
The hero is seeking to fill a void (this could be a personal void, community, etc.)
The hero, through battling with one’s dragon and demons, attains self knowledge. As Polonius in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet says, “To thine own self be true”. There is no greater knowledge, there is no greater power than self knowledge.
This model of the Hero Journey is a perfect model for teaching artists how to be independent, to be community minded, to think of needs outside of themselves and to serve others and not just the ego’s quest for fame. The Hero Journey is a perfect model for teaching entrepreneurship.
At TITAN we seek to develop a new generation of visionary leaders in the arts who see not only their respective “canvases” as places to create, but see their lives as their greatest work of art. These stories, that of our students respectively live, is their greatest adventure, of which they are each the heroes. When our young students have lived the fullness of their lives and retire to the grave, people will look back on their lives and tell stories.
We serve in part to inspire our student artists to live heroic lives that are story worthy and inspirational to others, while making a living in the arts.
Jim Hart is the founder of The International Theatre Academy Norway (TITAN). TITAN is accepting applications now.