Don't Be Too Well Behaved

Our regular voice coach, Adrienne, was away to attend a funeral, so had Katya Benjamin for our class. Although Katya is primarily on RADA staff as a movement teacher, she (as she told us) has a fascination with voice. She teaches in Alexander technique, and uses it (as Alexander did) to free the natural speaking and singing voice.

All our exercises began with looking for ways to align our bodies not through telling them what to do, but asking what they need to do to free the voice. So we did the stand/sit from a chair exercise, imagining pusing down to get up, and forward and up to sit down, in varying degrees of exaggeration. Adding text to this was quite surprising; I used a Goneril soliloquy I have known for ages, and managed to surprise myself a couple times through this simple physical action. We then went on to look at aligning; we went around the class and looked at each person's body, then Katya made adjustments to us and had us speak. We did this one by one, watching the change in others; it was remarkable to see and hear the difference a couple simple physical adjustments could make in a voice. For me, pressing into the floor while allowing the body to float up really works; I can make more space in my rib cage, and even more between my shoulders than I have built up in the past. This centered my voice to my body quite significantly.

We then did a great exercise for the spine; with a partner, one lying face down, the other first holds a hand with light pressure on the sacrum, feeling the hips and pelvic bone relax. As we did this, I felt almost a separation of my legs from my body, so it felt like they were attached only by tendons. Then the partner takes their fingers and goes up the back, feeling one vertebrae at a time, until they reach the top. Then the one lying down gets up and walks about the room. I felt an immense lightness but confidence in my movement after this, and my voice was placed at that nice centered location. I want to do this exercise every day.

Finally, we did the "octopus" where you lie on the floor, fully feeling the floor support the body, then begin to move limbs and body about as if you are under water. Throughout, feeling that everything is relaxing, driving into the floor.

The final, most important piece of advice Katya had was for us to not to be "too well behaved" - we talked a bit about how an actor needs to be a little naughty, willing to laugh, cry, yell, scream, and be calm at once...and that our bodies need to be poised and ready for this. Mischevious, perhaps.

Tonight's excitement includes finishing dramaturgy homework, Laban homework, and more reading...while the hubby goes out to enjoy Ministry of Sound. Looking forward to his pictures of the night!