By Everett Goldner
This week I’ve been thrown into a piece of theater for the first time in about six months. It’s not unusual for actors coming back to work after time off to feel lost, as if they have to rediscover the way into a piece, or into their body, or even to feel as if they’ve forgotten what acting ever was and have to reinvent the wheel.
I’ve been feeling some of this for the last few days. But I’ve been taking Alexander lessons more or less consistently for about six months – so how can it help me find the way?
The first thing that has occurred to me is to let go of the need to find the breath, or to break down the space between speech and breath, because I’ve learned in Alexander that there isn’t any place between the inhale and the exhale; it’s actually a continuum.
Knowing this, I let my feelings given a line of speech on the page run through that line. The sense I have of a given line or a given passage of text in rehearsal may or may not be the way I’ll perform it – I don’t really care at that point. What matters is that I keep feeling out that sense and working it the way you’d work a piece of clay you’re molding. Knowing that I can trust my breath to run out as far as it can, through the breadth of my body, is a big help in working the sense of the text, as I – to use a literal connotation – embody it. Changing it from dry words on the page into something infused with a meaning and connected to the other actors and the audience.
For the last couple months, I’ve found myself more in a place of letting what I’m learning in Alexander simply be in my body more than I’ve felt the need to analyze it or parse it out to understand it – I’m not sure that I have a better analytical understanding of Alexander than I had three months ago. But I may have a better intuitive understanding of it. My hope, really, is that as I continue studying Alexander I will gain a better connection with myself that will help me to better connect other people, both onstage and off.