Relaxation, Tension, and the Artistic State: Part I

Before performance,  I am prepared.  Rehearsed.  Ready and free to improvise and be available to anything my scene partner might do.  I know this character so well, I can react by instinct.  Now stop thinking.  Take a deep breath.  Check where I am holding tension.  Neck?  Roll it.  Hands?  Flex and relax ‘em.  Brow?  Gently massage it.  Or just acknowledge it, and maybe it will go away. See?  It’s gone.  All the little muscles in my mouth–tense from gritting against the pressures of everyday life.  Let my mouth go slack.  Gently touch the jaw muscles.  Easy . . . easy . . . is my throat tense?  I need my voice to be supple.  Deep breath . . . make a relaxed, open, free SOUND.  Again, fuller SOUND!  No governors, no rules.  Sing a song.  Or just hum.  Shake loose.  Stretch.  Another deep breath . . . just let everything go . . . Sit down.  Better yet, I will lie down.  I think . . . I could actually drift off . . . they called “half-hour” to curtain.  I’ll sleep for ten minutes . . . I’ll wake up refreshed and open.  Think positive, self-affirming thoughts.  Close my eyes.  Think of someplace beautiful.  Or think of nothing.  Nothing.  Go to “zero”.

A good, quick, deep “WARM-UP” is important because acting requires the body to be aware, graceful and reactive; the voice to be flexible, powerful and supple; the mind to be open and yet focused.  Acting requires your soul to be present and available.  Most actors with stage experience know this because “filling the space” of a theater packed with people is particularly physically demanding of the voice and the body.  But it can be important–in all mediums –to “WARM UP”. This is especially true when the role or the scene you are about to play is extremely challenging.

Stretch, vocalize, searching your body for tension.  This opens and relaxes your voice, and helps your mind/soul feel centered, grounded.  You can do this routine almost anywhere:  backstage, in a car before an audition, or in your trailer “on location”.

Of course, mostly, one must find the Artistic State before rehearsal and before performance, but before you ever get that far, there are situations that require a “Relaxation Exercise” which can be not only chaotic, but even oppressive.  The “Casting Office” before an audition can be filled with other actors doing and saying all the wrong things for your focus, not to mention being so damn good-looking it makes you cry.  Even the Casting Director can be talking about offering the part you are auditioning for to a “name” right on the phone, where you can hear it through the door.  You must find your inner peace.  Like a batter in the 9th inning of the World Series, in front of 70,000 screaming people . . . relax and swing easy.  Even if the part is offered to someone else, you want to “win” the Casting Director so she calls you for her next project, and her next, and her next . . .

You should be able to achieve a powerful “Inner Focus”, so that when in distracting and chaotic situations, you are able to find your center, relax, CREATE, and perform in  “THE ARTISTIC STATE”.  Swing easy.

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Adam Lazarre-White Adam Lazarre-White grew up in NYC, graduated from Harvard University with Honors, started at QB for the “Crimson” and played in the Harvard Jazz Band. He is known for roles on Scandal, Heroes, Ocean’s 13, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, The Temptations, Living Single, The Parkers, and starring on The Young & The Restless. Adam’s writing and directing have become equal pursuit in recent years; and he has owned his acting school in Hollywood, ALW Acting Studios since 2000. For info on Adam's classes, acting, writing & directing visit his website at www.adamlazarre-white.com