On Monday, March 28th, 2011 Morning Edition on NPR ran a 4 minute piece about the benefits of the Alexander Technique for performers and people with back pain. Listen to the podcast here with Sarah Varney reporting from KQED in San Francisco.
ARCHIVES: LUKE MESS ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE TEACHER IN NYC
Archive for March, 2011
I absolutely love it when doctors recommend the Alexander Technique! Check out this celebratory podcast from my new favorite radio show Back Talk Live with Dr. Ed Kornel. Last month Back Talk Live celebrated their first anniversary on the air with a very lively special guest, actor and humanitarian James Kiberd. Listen to James tell the story of his pain and healing journey. And continue to listen as Dr. Kornel describes and praises the Alexander Technique as a simple and realistic way to deal with pain. I recommend the whole show, but if you are crunched for time James’ interview begins at the 14:20 minute mark and Dr. Kornel continues to talk up Alexander from 20:55 to 22:40. Enjoy!
I’ve been thinking about acting in relation to the Alexander Technique more than usual these past few weeks as a show I am working on moved into performance. Here are some thoughts I’ve had floating around my brain.
I can understand how an actor discovered this work. Acting and the Alexander Technique compliment each other on many levels. F.M. Alexanderʼs motivation in discovering this work was to become a better actor with a functioning and healthy voice. He put it together that to do that, he had to learn himself. He had to discover what it was in his own way of working that was limiting his ability and physically hurting him.
One of the things he discovered, and what I think cuts right to the heart of this work, is that he wanted to be so good and do such a good job that he would literally overwork, stress out, and tense up to the point of physical and mental exhaustion. His idea of “doing a good job” translated to his body as tightening his muscles, stiffening into positions, and holding his breath.
I want my students to know that I am not teaching them how to do something “right”. I want them to know that I am teaching them a skill to aid them in learning themselves. Using the Alexander Technique, actors can recognize how their desire to do a “good job” interferes with the working flow of their own bodies and imaginations. And nothing can help an actor personalize and play a character more than knowing how they, the actor, would react as if they were the character making choices, taking action, and living in the circumstances of the play.
So here’s to all the actors of the world striving to tell the story! Don’t let your desire to do something “right” and “good” get in your own way. Keep it simple and be kind to yourself. Let go of your habits, like Alexander did, and see where the moment takes you.