acting=life: breathe

So much of what I do know about acting and directing I learned along the way: picking up the bits and pieces as I went.  I have been lucky enough to be around people who have many of those pieces to share.  As a rule my training has been quite informal and often as-I-go.

And then, each June, I get the gift of classes, training.  I treasure it.  And often hear something completely new. I remember a couple of years ago when I first heard an actress that I really admire talk about “being connected to your breath” as though everyone in the room knew what she meant.  Apparently everyone did but me.

But then, as she continued to talk, I got it – something I had begun to learn instinctively, over time. Because you can’t do much on stage without learning it.  I just didn’t have a name for it.  She did.

It’s amazing what you can and can’t do, on lots of levels, because of your breath.  Your level of energy, intensity, emotion – all have to do with how and when you breathe.  If you have to deliver an angry speech, or a quick witty comeback – you have to know when to breathe to make it work.  If you have to play anxious, you have to breathe faster, and of course the opposite is true if you need to calm down.

After the work of figuring out who you are playing is done, the little things begin to become important.  How each word falls in the sequence of a sentence.  What you are doing while you are saying those words.  And every place that you will take a breath.  Those breaths are your punctuation, your ability to keep going, your moment to think.

So – take time to breathe this week.  Because all that’s true off the stage too…