"Actors are people, only more so." --Peter O'Toole
It's not usual to think of actors as a special-needs population, but the acting profession places special demands on the body, mind, and spirit. The body is the actor's instrument, much as the piano or saxophone would be for a musician. Like the piano, the actor's body requires maintenance and occasional tuning in order to function optimally. If the actor's instrument is out of tune, the performance will suffer. An actor whose muscles are stiff, sore, or shortened will be more likely to render a stiff performance lacking range and subtlety.
Acting as a profession places special demands on the body and the mind. Actors frequently work unusual hours, often at night, and must be prepared to go on stage regardless of fatigue, muscle pain, nervous tension, minor illness, distractions, "the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to." (Hamlet, Act III, scene 1) The actor may need to conform, even deform, his physical self to meet the demands of the character for hours at a time, eight shows a week. Actors are subject to extravagant praise and criticism, which may take a toll on the psyche if the actor is not sufficiently grounded.
The actor's instrument resembles the saxophone more than the piano in that it is a wind instrument. In the days before artificial amplification, the trained actor was expected to be heard in the farthest seat of the largest auditorium, and in some venues the same applies even today. With or without a microphone, however, the actor or singer/actor must maintain the alignment, flexibility, and muscular control necessary to produce the intended tone, pitch, and rhythm of speech or song. The production of sound requires a complex interplay of soft-tissue elements (abdominals, erectors, diaphragm, intercostals, trachea, various neck and face muscles, larynx, sinus cavities, mouth, soft palate, lips, and so forth), most of which must shorten or lengthen, contract or relax in a coordinated fashion.
Similar coordination is needed for the simplest walk across the stage or the most intricate swordplay. An actor must exercise whatever physical attributes the role requires, of course, but any amateur will attest that even simple actions, postures, gestures and facial expressions found in everyday life need special attention if they are to look natural onstage. Beginning actors can appear tragically stiff and wooden, only to evolve into limp rag dolls when they attempt to compensate. In order to appear as natural as a real live human being, an actor's body must be infused with energy, and must be able to store and release that energy smoothly and with precision. The challenge for the actor is to overcome the lazy habits of daily living and the stored insults and sense memories that reside in the flesh. An actor whose body is flexible, relaxed, aligned, balanced, and energized is ready to take on the challenge of embodying a fellow human being in a way that seems truly human.
Massage and related bodywork and evergy work affects the body and mind in numerous positive ways. Among other benefits, it can relieve aches and pains that otherwise would inhibit optimal range of motion, increase the flexibility of joints, alleviate fatigue, reduce cortisol, a stress hormone, and promote the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, enhance immunity, and relieve depression and anxiety. These benefits are especially helpful to those whose every movement and sound is examined minutely by scores or even, in the case of film, millions of audience members.
These same principles are appicable to musicians, artists, dancers, and anyone who relies on the mind/body connection in their work, of course. Sore shoulders, a stiff neck, an aching lower back, or a tension headache can inhibit your performance and cause you to make artistic compromises. Skillful and caring massage provides relief and frees the inner artist to create.
Call/text me at (561) 386-3560 to discuss making massage a part of your acting preparation.