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Removing Physical and Mental Habits

Briana Packen Movement Teacher for Actors NYCBriana Packen teaches a movement class for actors at the Maggie Flanigan Studio. In this video Briana talks about why actors need to recognize and remove physical and mental habits.

Living in New York City is no easy task. We are constantly bombarded with unwanted contact from the moment we leave our apartment. Even a routine as simple as picking up our morning coffee can be daunting. We weave through the masses; hat pulled low, sunglasses on, ear buds in, shoulders hunched, bobbing & weaving through a sea of bodies to grab a coffee. With our head down, we rush about. We broadcast just how busy we are. No, we don’t want to see a comedy show. We don’t want to take a bus tour or buy a fake designer bag. And right now, NO, we don’t have “a moment” to spare for the charitable cause of the day! And that’s all before we finish our coffee.

Down into the subway we go, making ourselves as small as possible to wiggle into that last available seat on the A train. Or worse, we sprint through closing doors to cram ourselves around the same pole as 20 fellow commuters trying to share one square foot of subway floor. We use our coffee and our phone as barriers, drawing out the lines of our territory. We’ve got our backpack, commuter bag, tote bag, gym bag, lunch bag, handbag…you get the picture.

We are creatures of clutter, and “busy” is our best weapon of defense against the invasion of contact we experience in our travels. Shrinking is necessary and inevitable. It’s a wonder we can make it to our acting class, audition, or rehearsal, let alone open up once we get there! But here in lies the problem; to be open and released is actually part of the actor’s job description. To live through a moment of contact is the thrill we chase as artists. There is nothing more satisfying than bouncing impulses from a simple and open state in order to create rich, vivid behavior.

Movement Class for Actors NYC - Briana Packen

To do this, we must rid ourselves of pedestrian clutter. This “extra stuff” could be a specific pattern of tension, or other behavioral habits created to protect us as we walk through city streets. They are necessary layers of defense in our day-to-day lives, but in the acting environment, we need to recognize them, be grateful for their purpose outside, and then let them go in order to create. NOT EASY.

In my Movement classes, we help pinpoint the habits and patterns specific to each individual; particular physical habits like furrowing our brow or holding our breath, as well as the mental habits we create that keep our mind going a million miles a minute. You cannot be present when this is operating. In class, we slow down and greet these patterns mindfully through awareness and permission. Over time, we build a new set of tools that allow the actor to function from a less cluttered place, where contact from another human being can truly happen to us.

The simpler we are, the more released, permissive and ultimately expansive our work can become. Opening up to our fellow actors then begins to take less effort, and over time, simplicity is possible. And that, ultimately, should be a goal of any serious artist.

For more information about movement classes for actors at the Maggie Flanigan Studio, contact the studio directly by calling (917) 794-3878.

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