Method Acting Moments: Relaxation
One of the biggest pains in the Acting craft is lack of confidence. I still clearly remember how I felt when I finished my BA in Acting at 21: After 3 years of training, I was leaving University having unlearnt everything I thought I knew before my degree course.
My confidence had been stripped away hour by hour lesson by lesson. This is the effect produced when you are put in a large group for learning to receive general knowledge training, taught under the stress and constrictions of strictly devised academic curriculums, and you are given almost zero space for self exploration, self development, through inner assimilation and reflection within your training before you are exposed to judgment and criticism of your peers and teachers, under a spotlight and without really knowing what you are doing yet. Repeatedly. Throughout three years.
The problem is that this learning setting doesn’t have mastery as it’s objective but rather the aim is to inject you with as much general knowledge on a subject as is possible within the given time. The focus is on completing the curriculum. Thus the inner development of the artist and any desired goal to become a master of the craft is utterly neglected.
Confidence in acting comes through the mastery of the craft.
Method Acting techniques and exercises help you achieve mastery and truth in your acting. You learn to nurture and widen your imagination immensely. You become an expert on the use of the senses and on reaching high levels of concentration.
Be it to learn a new role, interpret a script, develop your vision for a project or researching your character Method Acting is the way to perfect your craft.
If you are not an actor you can use the practices as therapy with a diversity of benefits. With Method Acting you gradually cultivate your intuitive mind and your emotional intelligence which will result in an elevated sense of belief, greater confidence and ease during your performances.
Mastery entails discipline and intellectual control. The ability to switch effortlessly, moment to moment or comedy to drama is one of the greatest achievement for an actor.
The Relaxation Exercise
Practice this before every performance, filming or rehearsal. Also at home, every day if possible while you learn to develop your craft. Strasberg stated that relaxation and concentration are
“Two sides of the acting coin.”
The elimination of fear and tension is important. Actors need to relax their bodies to concentrate and have control over their minds.
Stanislavski said that relaxation is the emotional and physical state required to enter into what he called the “creative mood.” The mood in which great acting happens.
Relaxation encourages for fluidity, seamlessness, focus, and the merging of action and awareness these conditions are the recipe for good acting.
You can achieve the creative mood by doing the Relaxation Exercise.
The Relaxation Exercise is restorative. It’s also the exercise to be done before all the Sense Memory Exercises. You can do this exercise any time you lose concentration or become anxious or tense.
The Relaxation exercise will help break self-sabotaging unconscious habits that make it hard for you to express yourself.
When you eliminate these physical and emotional habits, your muscles and nerves relax and your body becomes more responsive and sensitive. You become free from the limiting, reactive negative patterns coused by tension, while your imagination unleashes. You suddenly have access to new forms of expression and sense of self.
Deeply ingrained forms of tension and stress will define you negatively. They are habits. These habits can be distracting and become ineffectual physical mannerisms that limit you to playing yourself.
Performing the Exercise
Sit on a chair and begin by asking yourself how, on a scale of one to ten, you are feeling that moment, both emotionally and physically. Watch any unhelpful thoughts and let them go.
Ideally, sit in a straight back chair which doesn’t have arms, in a place where you’ve enough room to stretch out your arms and legs and not touch anything or anyone else.
If your neck and shoulders are above the back of the chair, slip down on the seat and hang your neck gently back, slightly supported by the back of the chair, if possible.
Hang your arms down loosely at the sides of the chair with your shoulders relaxed, legs flopped out, knees bent, and your feet on the floor. Don’t cross your arms and legs while relaxing Crossing your arms acts as a shield of protection that prevents the flow of expression and creates isolation.
Become aware of each part of your body moving them, in turn, one by one. finger, arm, leg, toe, back, and making specific sounds as you move each of them.
Be conscious of breathing slowly but not deeply. Breathe in through the nose for a count of “one,” with an equally long exhale through the nose, if possible. The breathing places you in the present momentStart noticing the different areas of the body that hold mental tension.
Be aware of all physical sensations such as tingling, burning, twinges, or cramps.Now begin a detailed tour of your body to search for tension by moving each part separately, slowly, and deliberately. Tension switches from place to place so pay special in your search.
Be specific and know exactly what part of the body you’re working, know when you’re focusing on it, and when you relax it. Stay aware.Ask yourself questions about your body.
Is your brow furrowed? Is your neck tight? Are your shoulders up? Are your fingers jiggling or moving unconsciously? If you tend to shake let or constantly touch your hair or face, stop.
Breathe and let go of the tension. Explore parts of the body you don’t normally think about such as your, back of the knees, ears, scalp, and so on.
Bend forward in the chair and check the back muscles. Work on the tension in your neck by doing gentle head-and-neck rotations around one way and then the other, practically in slow motion. Try to move the neck toward the back but don’t force it. It takes time to loosen up those muscles. If you feel any discomfort or tightness, stop. If you experience any areas of chronic pain don’t work on those areas.
Acknowledge any tension by moving the part of the body and making sounds, then continue with the detailed exploration of your body.If the number you picked for how you’re feeling is five or below, it can be because of general uneasiness, or it can be a specific problem, In that case, make a long deep “HA!” or “AH!” sound.
The sound should be loud, committed, and elongated for five or ten seconds. Stretch your arms out from the side of your body at shoulder level, opening up the chest area and move the legs. Then lean back into the chair and let go of the tension, collapse, and breathe.
Unwanted feelings stop you from going further and the movement and sounds break you through.The explosive “HA!” sound can help you deal with specific, problems that make you tense, such as anger. Stand up, make a short loud noise.“HA!” or “AH!” sound, and punch and kick the air three, four, or five times, then collapse back into the chair, relaxing, breathing easily, and letting those feelings dissipate.
Making these types of sounds and movements whenever necessary to relax and let go of tension.
Practice this exercise as often as possible. Start by doing it daily. You will soon see that you are becoming more relaxed.
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