Why the Alexander Technique (AT) is an essential movement technique for actors

Marietta acting
When I came across the AT I’ve already trained as an actress with other movement techniques: Jacques Lecoq, Laban, Michael Chekhov,… and besides, I was a contemporary dancer (amateur). That’s why I wasn’t the best candidate to be impressed by a movement technique. However, it gripped me till this day.

If you’re a performer is possible that you’ve already heard something about the Alexander Technique or it was recommended to you. In my case, I was looking for something that I was missing. I asked the actors of my favourite Theatre Company which movement technique they were using on stage and all of them mention AT. It was the Royal Shakespeare Company, in London. That was convincing for me. I decided to re-train as an actress in a drama school that included Alexander Technique in its program.

I was looking for the economy of movement that I was so impressed by the actors that I admired. They could use small gestures with an enormous dramatic weight because the rest of their performance wasn’t clutter with unnecessary movements. I wanted to find something reliable that I could use on stage without loosing my spontaneity. I was good at being in contact with my emotions. I could easily provoke them at will for my scenes. The problem was that if the intensity was high, the emotion will control me. My voice was compromised, and my body didn’t connected with the role that I was playing. All my work about the situation of the scene, the study of my clear intentions, was sabotaged by an excess of unnecessary movements. Very Spanish! Once the emotion took over I didn’t seem to have many options to chose from. When I tried to change this it felt fake. The emotion only seemed genuine if I did it on my own way, as I would normally do it as myself, and not as my role. That was quite frustrating, I was trapped on my own habits.

With the AT everything started to change. I could maintain the level of intensity without loosing my role. I could adapt to a richer variety of expression with my body. My emotional response was more malleable, more open to explore new paths. I could think clearer in the middle of the storm and kept my voice more open. I was able to try any suggestion from my teachers and directors in the rehearsals more happily. It didn’t feel impossible or fake. I could take criticism better and use it more constructively. Then, once on stage I felt in control, with freedom and the simplicity that I was looking for. My performance was more fresh and reliable. And on top of that I felt more confidence and calm.

How this change happened is more difficult to explain. It was not one thing that clicked, it was an accumulation of small things. My attitude towards learning the technique must have something to do with it. I needed to leave my old techniques on a side to give an opportunity to the new acting methods, included the AT, to be able to judge if they worked for me or not.

At the beginning the private AT lessons were so subtle and mysterious that I didn’t think much of it. Gradually it grew inside me. I’ve found myself practising AT in more spheres of my daily life: at the office, washing the dishes, walking… Then, I was able to apply it to my scenes without compromise the other work done by the study of the acting techniques. It was something like the technique of the techniques. It helped me to develop the other tasks in acting better. It didn’t have only a physical aspect but much more mental than I could have anticipated. Instead of being that just as a warm up, it became the constant invisible technique in my acting.

 

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