Heleen Van den Bosch
PhD Research Student in Belgium. In 2013 she participated in Commedia Toto, directed by Ira Seidenstein.
I ended up in Ira's workshops in the first place because I was a "hopeless" acting student. There was no teacher who could help me and learn how to use my "counterproductive" body. It was counterproductive because it didn't do what the teachers wanted. All the acting classes I took up to that point only taught me tricks, and as it seemed they weren't very helpful. It left me frustrated. By that time I had already worked on Stanislavski for a year and a half, mostly historical, and I understood what Stanislavski wanted to say, but I couldn't really put it into practice. For some reason it wasn't working and I couldn't figure out why.
After only one day of work with Ira I learned that I could take ownership over this "hopeless" body of mine. It turned out my body wasn't hopeless at all, but pretty creative. I just needed to listen more to it, instead of dictating it what to do. It was also a relief to know that for the first time I was taught something I could train, I could practice something at home, without being scared to be led astray. I felt I was being put on the right track and by working with Ira for more than a week, something else changed as well. It completely changed the way I looked at my own research on Stanislavski. By feeling what it meant "to take ownership over my body", I understood what Stanislavski really was talking about. Because I felt and experienced it, his words started making more and more sense.
At the moment I'm still digging and digging deeper into those last chapters of his life and work. The more I read, the more similarities I discover… and the more I think Stanislavski would have loved to have participated in a workshop with Ira.
Even in the early days you can find traces of this "Method of Physical Action". Somewhere in 1920 he already wrote: "If my mind and body go dead on stage, I make any kind of movement to come back into the moment. I can't explain why, but it works."
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.