The Actor’s Secret
Techniques for Transforming Habitual Patterns and Improving Performance
Offering revolutionary new training for the actor, The Actor’s Secret teaches actors and performers how to incorporate the fundamentals of the Alexander Technique, Somatic Experiencing®, and Breathing Coordination in order to reduce performance anxiety and stress; improve stage presence, breathing, and vocal production; and restore well-being and healthy functioning. These three kinesthetic disciplines are designed to lead to profound change and healing through body-mind reeducation.
Part I explains in detail the principles of the three techniques. A practical method for self-improvement and neuromuscular reeducation, the Alexander Technique focuses on changing inefficient habits of movement and patterns of tension that inhibit the ability to move easily. Breathing Coordination helps increase breathing capacity and awareness. A method for resolving emotional trauma, Somatic Experiencing® follows a process of tracking bodily sensations to restore vitality and health.
Enhanced with over 100 instructive photos, Parts II and III present explorations and exercises that draw on elements of the three methods. Topics covered include the importance of presence and non-doing; the proper mechanics of vocalization and singing; the understanding of character and role; and the actor’s journey from auditions to performance, including initial script preparation, rehearsal, monologue, and scene work. Developed by Betsy Polatin, a movement specialist and master lecturer at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, the book’s exercises provide the actor with simple tools for exploring his or her acting work. Most techniques and self-help books teach a new way of “doing.” The secret of this book lies in “non-doing.” When the actor learns to first recognize and then suspend habitual patterns, he or she opens the door to deeper artistic choices.
“I have worked with many fine Alexander Technique teachers over the years and Betsy Polatin is far and away one of the finest. Her touch, her instincts, and her knowledge are miraculous.”—Andre Gregory, actor and director, My Dinner with Andre
—Olympia Dukakis, Academy Award– and Golden Globe–winning actress,
Moonstruck and Steel Magnolias
“I have worked with many fine Alexander Technique teachers over the years and Betsy Polatin is far and away one of the finest. Her touch, her instincts, and her knowledge are miraculous.”
—André Gregory, actor, My Dinner with André, and director, The Master Builder
“This is an indispensable book for people seriously interested in acting and is the most important book on acting I have read in a long time. The details and techniques discussed are very impressive and essential for the serious actor.”
—Stewart F. Lane, acclaimed five-time Tony Award–winning Broadway producer,
War Horse and Top Hat
“I have often puzzled at what makes an actor believable; what really lets you enter into their character’s world. Here in The Actor’s Secret, some of those very secrets are made tangible and accessible in clear descriptive prose. By learning to become embodied—in breath, in posture, and in movement—these powerful techniques are revealed, not only to the actor, but to all of us in how we live our everyday roles—whether awkwardly and inefficiently, or comfortably with grace and flow.”
—Peter A. Levine, PhD, best-selling author of In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body
Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness and Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma
“[The Actor’s Secret] skillfully blends three disciplines in laying out a path to enhanced wellbeing and professional efficacy: the Alexander Technique, the focus of which, simplistically stated, is body alignment, Breathing Coordination, and Somatic Experiencing, which involves working through traumatic experiences to restore and enhance physical and mental health. … Polatin delves deeply beyond the familiar jargon of ‘vulnerability’ and ‘being in the moment’ with elaborate explanations of and methods of achieving these essential states. … The approach set forth in The Actor’s Secret is in my opinion the most comprehensive, straight forward, non-mystical, and, therefore, most likely to produce good results. … The book is extremely well presented.”
—Gordon Osmond, award-winning playwright and reviewer for bookpleasures.com
From the Trade Paperback edition.