I respect the commitment with which Ira created his own method through the years, and I think of this system of exercises as an absolutely helpful and needed tool for any performing artist who is disciplined and committed enough and wants to explore his own creative possibilities more.
Ira as a teacher and mentor has been instrumental in my growth as an artist and as a human. His teachings have given me a solid foundation that isn’t limiting, but instead has required a certain amount of self-reflection and space for me to unfold into becoming my own artist.
You often read thing like 'your clown is you', 'look inside yourself', 'be in the moment' etc. Yes, deep down inside we all know that is true, but how to work with that on stage? After my second meeting with Ira, a workshop I organised in Zagreb, I really started to understand, as a performer, how your own body, its position and rhythm of movement can guide you on stage and serve as never ending inspiration.
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The Doctor - as I like to call him not just because he is academically invested with this title, but because of his capacity to see through everyone and make them blossom as human being and artists - literally gives you a practice you can bring home to work, create with and most amazingly it transforms and grows with you.
In Ira’s work I have learned to honour my own creativity. It has also given me a discipline, a solid practice. In other words: I finally know what I’m doing and it gives me a confidence that is very real. It has not only changed the way I perceive myself, as a performer, as a teacher, as a person, but also the way I think of the activity I’m involved in.
I am now the Artistic Director of Hearts and Minds, Scotland's healthcare clowning organisation, and the practice and techniques that Ira taught me are central to the artistic health of the team. Ira's methodology has changed a job where sometimes we fall into 'same-same' as performers, into one where each day, each visit, is a real opportunity – to learn, understand, develop – with a common language, understanding and joy.
The day I met Ira, a new journey began for me! What I get from Ira’s method is, first of all, a brand new keen « bullshit alarm ». About performance, performers, teachers, “preachers”, directors and about my own patterns. His method is concrete, simple, effective. No dogma. His exercises gave me a proper actor training for body, mind and creativity that I practice every day in my 10 foot square bedroom or anywhere else.
On a personal level, Ira is perceptive to what each student needs and he knows what to give them to help them reach their potential. His method has been invaluable in helping me 'get out of my head' as a performer. By learning how to tap into my body's creative impulses, I've learned that once you start to develop access to your body’s ‘intelligence,’ you also begin to nurture a light-speed connection between your body’s impulses and your brain’s awareness.
As a performer I’ve learnt much from Ira, both in masterclasses I’ve organised and attended in Belfast but also in one-to-one sessions designed to create performance pieces that required doubles acrobatics.
Ira effortlessly led these latter sessions giving me confidence to bring my own character to this discipline but above all work safely and effectively with the partner. I continue to use much of this physical practice in all my performance prep and delivery.
A musician has to train everyday on his instrument, an acrobat has to practice acrobatics. But a clown… or an actor… how do we train? Now I know. I train with the Four Articulations. I can practice the 7 solos at home. I can take care of my own creativity! I made so much progress since I train with Ira, and the funny thing is I don’t need him to be there all the time. I need the four articulations. I think It makes his method even more powerful, because it is generous.
Ira is not just a great teacher. He is a master clown, artist and mentor. I have worked with him for years and he has changed my life, seeing through me and helping me at each phase of my artistic and professional development. He always somehow empowers you and pushes you in the right direction. Working with him is the best investment in yourself you can do right now.
Appreciating clown as not only a performance art but also state of being on stage served to enrich me as a performer as well the content of my thesis – an historical and literary investigation of the legendary Elizabethan clown Richard Tarlton. Ira’s teaching and directing brought me infinitely closer to Tarlton’s remarkable life and work than I could have imagined.
As a director: I learned new ways to coach and mentor artists (Actors, Singers, Dancers, Musicians, visual artists). Being relatively new in the world of directing, I learned useful advice how to deal with the different egos of different artists (young talents, peak performers, highly talented but restless souls etc). I got lots of creative advice to craft my concepts and show formats such as NEW – The Improvised Musical.
These exercises, developed by Dr. Ira Seidenstein, help activate creativity in the entire body when developing characters and movement during improvisation.
Ira's teaching style is amazing - he genuinely loves teaching. There is no ego - just a creative man sharing his knowledge to help other performers unlock their potential
Ira’s approach and working method is one that simply feels right. He’s put into words and actual structures, all of those things that were just impressions and inklings. Working with Ira has affected all facets of my life from performing, directing, organising, teaching... all the way to the business side of the industry.
Because of Ira's exercises I improved my entire professional performances a lot and continue to train with those exercises as a daily discipline during my long contracts.
I started to learn how to connect the body and mind in a creative way together and it was a big eye opener! Every time after the workshop period I am analysing what I studied and researched, what I have learned during the classes I had with Ira.
I have to say that Ira was the first teacher I had whose lessons and wisdom filtered into my life subliminally and subconsciously after the first meeting. It wasn’t until 2010 in my work with Trash Dance Company that I fully became aware of the impact Ira had had; on not only on my performance technique/skills and drives. But also on my attitude as a human being and my work ethics.
The structure and detail of his physical worked helped me to understand my own impulses and to see them as material in my work, rather than happy accidents of creativity. And so his craft has helped my practice to structure itself around my impulses and interests.
Ira is brilliant in every aspect of clown, theatre, act creation and intimately understands the personal journey of the artist. As a coach he concisely pin points problems, creates many solutions and directs with the broadest of mind and most generous spirit – the spirit to help each of his students become the very best they can be. To achieve fun and control in their craft. Whenever we work with new people in the Crackup Sisters we send them to a course with Ira.
Working with Ira was a hugely important experience and education for us as a company and me as a theatre-maker. He brought us to a new level of creativity and professionalism, it really was remarkable, I always try to work with him at every given opportunity, he has a huge amount to offer every type of performing artist.
I’m endlessly grateful to Ira for being such a tough, supportive, loving mentor. He is magical and brilliant in the way he works with and sees people for their full humanity. Also, he can kind of read minds. I am so humbled and excited to see where this work leads.
When I was 18 years old I sought the guidance and knowledge of Ira and his teachings for my upcoming
audition with the Cirque. I trained with Ira every Saturday morning leading up to this big day. The audition went beautifully and I was successfully hired.
The more I get involved in Stanislavski and the field of acting techniques in general, the more I see how
unique the Seidenstein Method is. It starts where the others try to end, at the very essence of performance. It is truly liberating and fundamental to any kind of performance.
What is beautiful about his performances, as far as I am concerned, is that there is always a hint of danger brewing just under the surface. This is the energy of the ‘contrary’ eager to expose any pretense in our selves and, like an incorrigible Zen master, slap us back into reality.
Ira has taught me so much and all of his teaching has greatly improved my performance whether it be clowning, burlesque, theatre or equestrian shows. I also use much of Ira's techniques in teaching theatre and performance. Ira's techniques aim to integrate body, mind, and emotion and stimulate the individual's creativity. And by golly it works!
I have known Ira and enjoyed his career for almost 20 years, as a teacher, friend and performer. Ira lives and breathes his work and has committed his entire adult life to exploring and communicating the truth of Clowning. Ira lives for each workshop on a community level, for each performance on a global level and articulates his findings for all souls.
Ira has not only helped me develop my craft and acquire new skills and techniques, he has shown me how to appreciate what I already had, how to honour my life’s journey and to continue to experience it with honesty and clarity. The training in different aspects of clowning each year, in the Brisbane-based Quantum Theatre – Slapstick to Shakespeare intensive workshops, has drawn me into a community of passionate performers from all over the world and every possible genre and style.
The core principles I have employed in each audition while acting have been: being bold, showing myself, seeing them seeing me, engaging my entire body and using predominantly lower voice register.
Also walking in with calmness, confidence and clarity. Knowing what I need to do without being distracted by the auditioner’s reaction or lack thereof.
I found that Ira’s classes go far deeper than any other similar classes, going right to the fundamentals of the body, and how it moves. It changes our access to our repertoire of movements, and how we generate meaning from them. Because of the fundamental nature of his teaching, progress can sometimes seem to be slow, but then suddenly, as others have remarked, “something magic happens”.
My personal exploration is to uncover what really brings the body to life and enables authentic expression. I have found that Ira Seidenstein’s methodology supports this ongoing discovery of embodiment, and provides both practical tools (Core Mechanics) and structure (The Four Articulations). The discipline that the Seidenstein method demands is a potent ally when working with teenagers.
Ira took a leap of faith in trusting me to realise an ambitious project. That show has gone on to several successful seasons. More recently, I trained with Ira in a three week intensive in Brisbane. Ira is a passionate and inspiring teacher, grounded in his extensive experience as a performer, and his study of many disciplines. I treasure his unique exercises that allow an actor to train their physical creativity as a regular discipline, without needing a group or director to train with.
I have passed on a lot of the concepts or exercises I learned from Ira to children in my school. It is a very warm feeling to wander through the school and see the ‘number 6 movement’ being practiced by 7 year olds, or to hear children refer to ‘Charlie Chaplin’ or ‘Laurel & Hardy’. It has encouraged me to continue my relationship with clowning and Ira’s concepts.
Read Adam's full testimonial