Sunday, November 11, 2012

The World—and Your Chart—Is a Stage: Introducing AstroTheatre

© 2012 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

Ever since I attended my first Astrodrama workshop in 1992, I’ve been big believer in the power of experiential astrology. Astrology lovers talk shop incessantly, sometimes so much, it becomes a “head trip.” Experiencing Astro-energies directly, on the other hand, produces startling insights and the most personalized and direct synthesis of the code hidden in the glyphs around the horoscope wheel. There’s nothing like dressing up as planets and interacting with other planetary characters to throw the spotlight on key issues in your chart. It’s Evening at the Improv and the sketches are true at a depth that can only come from the intuitive “power of now.”

Imagine my excitement when I walked down the aisle of the trade show at UAC and encountered two friendly men with what looked like a puppet stage and a lot of astrologically correct characters ready to play their parts. The small images looked like cards but were in fact special demo magnets whose force field drew me in! I knew in a flash; this was a new tool I’d have to discover and share with my Radical readers. Speaking of the power of now, the time has come to introduce you to AstroTheatre and its creators, Michael Bartlett and Joshua Brady. This article is based on a follow-up phone interview with them on September 7, 2012.

The Seed

Michael was sitting in a class in Santa Fe, NM with his long-time fellow astrologer friend and mentor, Tom Brady (who also happens to be Josh’s father). That’s where Michael heard about a weekend Astrodrama experience Barbara Schermer and Tom put on locally in the 1980s, where participants acted out the parts of each other’s natal charts.

“My Aquarian mind and my Silicon Valley roots merged. I realized this idea could be done in electronic form,” Michael said. Barbara Schermer calls her experiential work Astrology Alive. Up till then, the “live” or in-person component was fantastic when you could get it but limited for many by geography. Astrologers trained in this kind of experiential work are few and far between. The seed that evolved into AstroTheatre could take root anywhere. Finally, you can taste experiential astrology from anywhere on Earth.

     “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
~Credited to newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane, (1864-1936)

The Concept

Chiron in Pisces
AstroTheatre offers a whole new way to gain understanding of the planets, signs and houses in your birth chart. Instead of reading about these chart components, you’ll see the planets as costumed characters on the twelve stages (houses) of life. The costumes represent the signs or how each planet is “dressed.” AstroTheatre intentionally keeps the interpretation of your chart to a minimum in order to allow for a very personal experience for each subscriber or user. For example, knowing many readers have Chiron in Pisces and are in or near your Chiron Returns, here’s your centaur all dressed up and ready to provide personal insights.

Forms of AstroTheatre

There are two forms of AstroTheatre, a subscription to an online interactive stage and tools and a paper card-set version. Both media are in their developmental stages with phase-in imminent on aspects of both.

The Cards. The first version of the AstroCards is now available as a phone app for the Android at $2.99. And the app for Apple will be out when Mercury goes direct. (No reason to tempt the God of Commerce!) By Christmas, you’ll be able to print out your own set of cards from a PDF file on the AstroTheatre site for approximately $25. Ultimately, when the fully printed retail version of the card set is available (2013); there will be plastic stands to hold the cards and a big game board with fold-outs of the 12 stages/houses.

Saturn in Scorpio

Online Version. Subscriptions to the online version, soon to be released in simple form, will be $60/year. Sign up for news on when it’s released and use this same page to contact the creators. The annual subscription will include access to printing your own cards at no extra charge. (For those of you, who like to give visually themed readings, you could print a set for each reading and have them go home with your clients, friends, etc.) The advantage of the subscription is that the online interactive version will evolve and have more features as time goes on, including discussion boards with other users. Imagine having a conversation with people sharing your same Saturn Return, midlife transits, Chiron Return—or your same lifeboat under the current Uranus-Pluto Square.

For the best summary of AstroTheatre, complete with visuals, click on Enter on the interactive website. It’s a complete demo of how the system works and 5 minutes well spent.

The 4th House
Advantages of Different Versions. The online version meets us where most of us live nowadays—on the Internet. You don’t even have to leave your 4th House to use it! There are no storage issues, and the tool is available at a click. The digital version is more likely to appeal to you if you want to contemplate your own chart and interact with others online about theirs.

The cards are more portable and can be used with a circle of others in person. You can lay out your chart placing the card images in exact parallel to your chart. You can also use the cards in an oracular way, pulling one or more for enlightenment on any issue. The cards also make it easier to work with transits, as characters can be placed showing their tension or flow with each other. The cards may not be the best format outdoors on a windy day, but for many people, the portability of this version will have a lot of appeal.

And not to forget: We take our smartphones everywhere. Even if you can’t do layouts with the imagines on the phone apps (Apple is soon to come), you can show others single images of the cards for discussion (and/or as a teaching tool about the archetypes invoked in astrology).

The Hidden Gold

AstroTheatre helps those who love the symbols of astrology to reconnect with preliterate times, regaining the best of how astrology used to be practiced in the past. During the last two millennia, there has been more focus culturally on the masculine, intellectual and literal. Astrology was originally practiced in cultures that understood the importance and wisdom stemming from a masculine/feminine balance. “AstroTheatre brings astrology full circle to a more original, experiential form,” says Josh. 

“It’s all about giving people their own experience of astrology,” Michael adds. Astrologers will always be needed because of their depth of understanding, but the partnership of insights between client and astrologer, based on archetypal images, is potent ‘medicine.’ Same goes for solo exploration.”

Visual archetypes are wired into our DNA. They help us bypass thinking and access feelings, bringing a left- and right-brain merger to spark our insights to potential fireworks. Language contains and constrains us. By bringing the right brain back into the balance, adding pictures and not just words, we bring the “right” gifts of intuition, nurturing and nourishing. We achieve the great solar/lunar blend of learning that mythical Chiron received from Apollo and Artemis in the guise of the Sun and Moon and passed onto his heroes in training. 

Sun in Cancer
Sun in Leo

Outstanding for Beginners. While AstroTheatre works for everyone from newbies to professionals, it’s especially accessible to people who know little to nothing about astrology. Michael tells a story about his Danish exchange sister who was born on the cusp of Cancer and Leo As it happens, she was adopted so she doesn’t know which day she was born--and she knows nothing about astrology. Whether she was a Cancer or Leo Sun was not clear-cut until he presented her with the two images, shown here. “She looked at the Cancer image, pointing at the baby in the pouch, and said, Ew, what’s that? She took one look at the Leo image and said, I wouldn’t go for all that—maybe just the scepter and crown.”  The case was queen cut!

Anti-Astrobabble. Many of you may recall my humorous post called The Astrobabble Quiz. Michael notes, “You can almost see clients’ eyes glaze over in readings from our complex, technical language. AstroTheatre is paper dolls astrology. As it evolves, we’ll have many different ways to express the characters. Aries can be a chef, hairdresser, business person, and so on.” The ultimate idea is to make it as personal as possible.

Fun. Another innovation this product brings to our field is play. People tend to take themselves too seriously, and when the outer planets come calling, there is a choice to be had—take it to fear/drama or look for comic relief. The AstroTheatre characters, who play the planets dressed as their signs, were conceived to be “Monty Pythonesque” and “Steam Punk” quirky, compelling and engaging. They have a retro old imagery or new way of looking at the old. While their look may ultimately evolve; they fit the changing times where old and new needs to be blended for the best of where we go next. Pack your sense of humor!

The Future

Pluto in Capricorn
As Pluto in Capricorn pummels government, big business, banks and our economic infrastructure that’s no longer working, the creators of AstroTheatre have given me hope for the part Uranus in Aries will play in evolving the new out of the rubble of the old, while still finding and restoring the antique treasures. Michael and Josh are both Uranian, inventor types. This colors them forward-looking, and their plans and flexibility about AstroTheatre are nearly as exciting as the concept itself. “We’re still working on how to show aspects in the best way, as well as retrogrades, and how transiting characters will visit on the stages. There are many other features to develop: synastry, composites and rulerships, as examples.” Michael shared his visions of ultimate Vedic, Celtic, Babylonian, Egyptian and other versions.

My favorite part of Josh and Michael’s pooled Uranian energies is their openness to customer feedback in the ongoing development of the product. I can’t help but think that they have captured the best of Uranus in both the merger of astrology and electronics plus the community input on its evolution.

“My interest as an astrologer is helping people, at a deep level, find a path to consciousness. That’s how I work with people—to become more conscious—and anything that can bring more of that into the world, I’m happy to be a part of,” says Josh. Michael adds, “AstroTheatre gives people a better understanding of themselves, their relationships to others and the planet. We have a big palette for doing our artwork in life, each in our own way. This tool gives permission to understand parts of yourself, including those not rewarded by the culture in general. Instead, you can see them as unique gifts.”

Certainly, Josh and Michael have given us their unique gift in this new concept of experiential astrology. I look forward to using and sharing this tool for its potential to bring astrology, and a more meaningful understanding of it, to everyone.


Photo Credits:  All images ©AstroTheatre, LLC 2012, used by permission. The images for AstroTheatre are hand painted in oil by artist and partner in the project Christine Cianci.

 Michael Bartlett is a practicing Astrologer and Business Consultant who has a background in Core Energetic and lives in Santa Fe, NM. Michael brings a grounded astrological understanding which he sees in visual images. He uses these visual metaphors to translate Astrological archetypes in an accessible manner for the level and understanding of each client. For more information, please visit (and read his blog) or You can reach Michael at


Joshua Brady is an astrologer and licensed clinical social worker practicing in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Learn more by visiting:

No comments: