We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth
Maya Angelou – A Brave and Startling Truth (1995)
The actor must crave insecurity, the unknown, the uncharted boundaries of imagination, because traveling along that edge leads to the promised land of creativity.
Kristin Linklater – Freeing the Natural Voice (2006)
A recurring theme that comes up with the actors and professionals I teach is “what does it mean to be present, and how can I develop that ability in myself?” Often, I’ll ask my students to define “being present” and some words and phrases that come up are: aware, in my body, able to listen and see what is happening around me, alive and not checked out, emotionally connected, ready to go into action, in the now – not rehashing the past or anticipating the future, sensitive, and living with the unknown.
For me, the progression of exercises developed by Kristin Linklater are a great help to getting present. We start with physical awareness which releases tensions that can cut us off from a more sensitive connection to breath. Think of connecting with breath as being a way to directly connect to your true thoughts and feelings. Sighing with relief frees the breath and encourages a desire to speak, which leads the way to releasing a freer connection to self on sound vibrations. The progression then undoes very specific tensions in the jaw, tongue and laryngeal musculature that inhibit our expression. And then we move onto opening a wide variety of expressiveness by releasing through the 3 to 4 octaves of vocal range as the resonating ladder is awakened. Finally, the ability to speak clearly and with accuracy is energized by articulation.
The more you do this work the easier it is to connect and “be present” with yourself. You will end up feeling more alive, more aware, and more willing to face the unknowns in your day.
We’ve posted the Fall Session at The Linklater Center. We have our tried and true classes: Drop-In Warm-Ups, Freeing the Natural Voice: Levels 1 and 2, and Voice Into Acting.
We have some Weekend Workshops as well: the popular Natural Voice Workshop – Level 1 to get back to basics, and a new workshop – Voice Into Cold Reading with myself and the renowned acting teacher Maggie Flanigan, in November. I’ll come back again in December to lead Advanced Voice and Text – a workshop designed to connect your monologue work with the resonating vocal range and the imagery in your text.
We hope to see you this Fall at The Linklater Center!