Teaching "the Expanded Self"

excerpt from: Teaching “the Expanded Self”
CFA’s Polatin calls the Alexander Technique “the actor’s secret”

“Betsy Polatin’s subtle craft is not easy to describe. But her students are happy to expound on the results: after her course, they say, they are more focused, more confident, and more at ease with their bodies. A longtime practitioner of the Alexander Technique and a master lecturer at the College of Fine Arts School of Theatre, Polatin refers to the century-old system as “a practical method for self-improvement.” In the introduction to her new book, The Actor’s Secret: Techniques for Transforming Habitual Patterns and Improving Performance (North Atlantic Books, 2013), Polatin recalls that after her first Alexander lesson many years ago, she thought, “This is still me, but not the me I always knew.

With a light, empathetic touch, teachers of the Alexander Technique help people identify and rid themselves of habits caused by a lifetime of stress. As children, most of us moved fluidly, without self-consciousness or tension. But over time our bodies have a way of sabotaging our well-being with quirks in the way we hold our heads, sit in a chair, speak, sing, or lean forward to open a door. We could all benefit from simple adjustments, says Polatin, who works mainly with actors and musicians.”

Read the full post at BU Today.


AMERICAN THEATRE Magazine – On Being With and Becoming

Read the full review of The Actor’s Secret.
by Michael Bloom – director and writer, and the author of Thinking Like a Director.


American Theater Magazine says:

“The Actor’s Secret is impressive…”
“The Actor’s Secret works both as a solid introduction to Alexander technique and an advanced guide for the more experienced actor.”
“Polatin’s guide is clear and well organized.”

TV Segment for ABC

“[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, BookPleasures.com

"The Actor's Secret" Promo

“The Actor’s Secret contributes to the actor’s awareness of his or her body and voice—an approach to conditioning that awakens possibilities.”
— Olympia Dukakis, Academy Award– and Golden Globe–winning actress, "Moonstruck" and "Steel Magnolias"
“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"