As an Actor your body is your tool. It’s your voice, your presence, your soul but time and time again when watching a performer, they act from the neck up. The performer’s head is going for it but the rest of their body is tense and stiff. We have all seen an Actor who, whilst performing, the veins in their neck start to pop out and their face starts to flush red.
It’s so easy to forget you have a body that is also involved in your performance.
Here you will find reasons to reconnect with your body and ways of doing it.
I had never heard of this until I joined Drama school and the whole process has completely blown my mind.
It’s tough to explain the Alexander technique in a paragraph so I implore you all to research it further.
It is a way to move through life, using only the energy you need. I’ve been taught in voice lessons that ‘Tension kills Vibration’ and in finding a way to get rid of tension. In doing this, you will move with more efficiency and be doing yourself a real favour.
As I said above ‘Tension kills Vibration’ so yoga is another way of helping you relax and ease your body. I feel like I mention yoga all the time in my articles so I won’t go on about it too much. But seriously guys, get on it. It’s great!
Yoga gives you flexibility but it also gives you strength. My favourite Yoga Teacher says “If you have strength you will float through life” – I think she’s right. A physical AND mental workout. What more could you want?
Dance (Not Movement)
We all dream about that Downton Abbey job. Who wouldn’t want a period drama sitting nicely on your CV? Dance often seems to lend itself to the period pieces but it also gives so much more. Helps with posture and presence.
People with dance “training” have a certain thing, some skill that I’ve never seen in anyone else. When dancers walk through the door you notice!
There are so many different types of dance and a basic skill in them all doesn’t half help your employability.
Movement (Not Dance)
Movement is slightly different from dance. Dance is about hitting that move on the right beat but a movement is more about expressing with your body. Acting without words. Once you get your head around showing rather than saying it’s mind-blowing.
I feel very strongly about movement as it still has a place when you don’t even think it does. I recently watched Gary Oldman in ‘Darkest Hour’. Yes, he had all the prosthetics but he still had to move like Winston Churchill. He had to have some sort of grasp of his movement to embody Churchill.
A great example of theatre which uses movement in a subtle way is Kneehigh. Every show I’ve seen they have cleverly used their body to porter the craziest of things. The movement doesn’t always have to big, it can be so very subtle, but it can’t half pack a punch.
It would be unwise of me when talking about Acting and the body to not mention the idea that you have to look a certain way. The feeling to look a certain way is nothing new to all the Actresses of the world and is becoming increasingly the norm for males too.
If that’s the path you want to go down and work out all day and every day, that’s fine, that’s your choice. I would warn you that getting abs that are too tight because of that rippling 8-pack can actually have a negative impact on your voice!
I would rather have a body that if the role required me to bulk up, and I really wanted that job, then I could. But if I’m being honest all my favourite Actors, both male and female, don’t have that “Hollywood Body”. They are the people I respect so why would I try to do something else.
Your body is your body. You do what you want with it but there are certain things that you can do that will benefit your career. But at least allow your body to aid you to perform and not hinder it.
John is a graduate of the YEP Actors and Writers courses and is currently studying Acting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He continues to write his own plays in his own time. He is also an avid football fan and is trying to make his debut into the Liverpool first eleven. Acting was always the plan B.