Sunday, April 8, 2012

Actors, Performers, Your Body is a Temple

Your mind/body/spirit is your instrument

The body is a temple. Housing the soul and the mind, the body is the vehicle that we were given in order to walk through this dimension. At the same time strong and delicate, resistant and breakable, incredibly adaptable, yet demanding utmost care and attention, the body is an envelope and machinery that is also breathing, living, and changing. It is alive, and energy flows through it at all times. Responding to the currents of energies inside and around it, the body can develop pains and diseases — dis-eases — or on the contrary, strive and shine.

Loving or hating the body has a tremendous impact on how it will respond and react. Constantly subjected to feelings of hate and criticism (“I’m too fat, too ugly; I don’t have a beautiful figure”), the body will wither. On the other hand, if cared for with loving attention and tenderness, the body will become beautiful and strong.

An actor, like an athlete or a dancer, needs his body to actually “embody” the character. The body is the very instrument he uses for his art. Each day, he or she, as part of his or her job duties, should devote a specific time, a minimum of one hour, to care for his or her body. Whether the physical activity is walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling, yoga, aerobic, stretching, pilates, dance, going to a fitness center and using machines, soccer, volleyball, rock climbing or any kind of sport, it is crucial that an actor makes it part of his daily routine.

Unfortunately, this idea is usually so far from actors’ preoccupations that at the college cafeteria, you can see a room divided in two: on one half are the athletes, on the other side are the artists and theatre people. There are very few actors who cross over between the two populations. More often, actors make fun of the athletes, and vice versa. Condescension and criticism are the rule. This attitude is not only foolish, it is depriving actors from an essential piece of their training, which I strongly believe should be included — and mandatory — in a theatre and acting curriculum. Physical activity will not only shape the muscles, it will also boost the spirits. As we discovered earlier on, the mind, body and spirit are so linked together that working on one will affect the other two. Working on the body itself will not only develop strong and beautiful musculature, it will also care for the house that hosts the soul, therefore enabling it to flourish.

Exert from A BALANCING ACT ( @Starlight Acting Books )
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Emmanuelle Chaulet is a Lecturer in Theatre at the University of Southern Maine and an Artists coach