Freeing Oneself from fear and stage fright with the Alexander Technique
by Michael Frederick
The best kept secret in the performing art world is something called The Alexander Technique. It is taught at The Juilliard School in NYC, The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. I taught it for over a decade at The Old Globe Theater in San Diego and for over 30 years here at the Baron Brown Studio in Santa Monica. The performer knows that their bodies are the instrument that they perform with and it behooves them to learn how to find tune their physical instrument.
The Alexander Technique teaches you how to let go of tension creating the quality of ‘smart relaxation’. This will free you from fear and stage fright and add presence & joy to you acting! This work is one of the most important techniques that you can learn to become an excellent ‘stress free’ actor. If a guitar is out of tune, the music will be out of tune. The same is true of an actor; your bad habits of posture are a dead giveaway about how poorly your acting instrument is tuned. If your posture is shabby and you slump all the time, your acting will be effected in a negative way. You lose charisma and stage presence! The Alexander Technique teaches you how to tune your own instrument both physically, mentally, and most importantly vocally.
A recent headline in Forbes Magazine proclaimed that “Sitting is the New Smoking.” This is a little oversimplified, but not by much. Bad habits of posture are endemic in our culture leading to a myriad of health issues from the pain of a bad back (the number one health problem in the U.S.), to digestive issues, and poor coordination & balance.
All you have to do is take a moment and observe how you are sitting as you are reading this article. The bad posture we exhibit while looking at our phones, sitting at our computers or in our cars, lead to bad posture while standing and walking. Again all you have to do is observe how people walk into the local Starbucks or along the 3rd Street Promenade on your way to meet a friend or catch a reflection of yourself in the store window as you’re shopping. The reality of what we see can be a shock!
Posture is “probably the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to health and wellness,” says Allston Stubbs, an orthopedic surgeon at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, in Winston-Salem, N.C., who treats patients with back or joint pain. “We see the spine and overall skeletal structure being critical to a patient’s functionality and their satisfaction with their life and health care.”
The difficulty with correcting our postural habits is that the very moment we attempt to do this, we are activating the very habit patterns that caused the problem in the first place. This is the proverbial “rock and the hard place”. You want to change, but each time you take a step in the seemingly right direction you are in the same soup. A bit like your computer that has a virus in it…no matter what key you strike, the virus is activated.
Most people give up and live their lives slowing wearing their bodies down and we call it “just aging” and it “happens to all of us.” This may be true to a degree however the majority of us wear ourselves out way ahead of our ‘expiration date.’ A few years back I attended my 50th high school reunion and was amazed how all things weren’t equal as far as good health and aging are concerned.
The Alexander Technique is state of the art in learning how to create good posture and what I call ‘smart relaxation’ when the stress of life seems overwhelming. Studying the Alexander Technique is a way of rebooting how we use ourselves. A way of fine tuning our mind, emotions, and body so that we create good habits of posture and balanced movement. The Alexander Technique works; it will improve your acting, and is a joy to learn!
ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE CLASSES WILL BE STARTING UP ON SATURDAY OCTOBER 1st AT THE BARON BROWN STUDIO.
If this is of interest, give me a call and sign up for this 8-Class series. You won’t be sorry.