The Seidenstein Method

The Seidenstein Method is an idea; that the teacher and director's general focus is to observe and to support each participant; via challenges in a professional yet creative way. The means to do that is: a) via the introduction template The Four Articulations for Performance; and, b) via the overarching structure and elements of Quantum Theatre: Slapstick to Shakespeare.

The Four Articulations

The Four Articulations for Performance is the embodiment template of The Seidenstein Method. The Four Articulations is both a workshop and a template for; actors, dancers, clowns, directors and performance companies. Such practitioners will learn a set of modules that directly release ones creativity for; generating movement, theatre, text and ensemble work. The four distinct modules have one clear flow one exercise to the next. The 4th Articulation uses all of the ideas in the first three modules.

The four articulations are:

  1. Body
  2. Space
  3. Time
  4. Space-Time Continuum

Body, space, time, space-time continuum are inherit and sometimes explicit in the No theatre, Kabuki, Indian theatre, Indigenous performance, Laban technique and a number of other methods. One of the unique qualities in The Seidenstein Method and The Four Articulations is the simplicity and therefore adaptability to any style or technique of performance.

There are clear, succinct exercises in each of the four modules. Everyone can use these exercises and concepts in their own way including; veteran performer, novice, director, teacher, dancer or choreographer.

As with all of The Seidenstein Method one can use any previous training from other methods. The Seidenstein Method is not dogmatic and sees the work as part of the continuum from Stanislavsky, Copeau, Barba as well as directly tapping into the spirit of Eastern Practices.

The Structure of The Four Articulations for Performance

The Four Articulations for Performance is a template of a few sequences of exercises. The first few are physical. The other sequences are physical-creative exercises.

Below are only the names of the sequences. Step-by-step instructions for every exercise are in the book Clown Secret, chapter 2. The sequences are like katas in martial arts i.e. training sequences that a person can hone over many years yet can apply spontaneously.

The Four Articulations for Performance is the Introduction and Practical Template as a gateway into the whole method Quantum Theatre: Slapstick to Shakespeare. Clown Secret is available in two minutes via Kindle. The sibling book is Quantum Theatre: Slapstick to Shakespeare, also available directly via Kindle. Both books are print-on-demand via online booksellers. Any independent local bookseller can order the books via print-on-demand.

The Four Articulations for Performance is in part intended as a warm-up and training device that will enhance any other performance method, style or project. The Four Articulations is clear but not dogmatic. It begins with the series solo exercises that can be done simultaneously by many people in one room or studio. The exercises begin with several physical exercises but progress through physical-creative exercises. The solo portion takes about 30-40 minutes. The time can be adjusted to be shortened. The solo section is followed by duets and creative ensemble exercises.

The Four Articulations for Performance - sequences titles:

Five Solo Sequence:

The 3 Loosenings

The Core Mechanics

The Quantum Voice Warm-up (inspired by Dr Flloyd Kennedy of Being in Voice)

Cultural Singing

The 7 Solos

Duet, Partner, Ensemble Sequences

3 Duets, 1 Trio, 1 Quartet exercises:

3 Duets: Positive/Negative; The Slapstick Exercise; The Waiting For Godot Exercise

1 Trio: Follow the Leader Triangle

1 Quartet: The Whispering Exercise

The Path of Honour - series named for famous Clowns of previous generations

Auxiliary Exercises to The Four Articulations for Performance

The Cleopatra Exercise - solo, can be done simultaneously by many individuals in one room

The Clown Knows Exercise - solo

The Sad Sack Exercise - duet

Dada’s Exercise - solo

Correct Training

The Four Articulations basic workshop is five days, 10am to 4pm.The Four Articulations are then used as a daily warm-up and training prior to rehearsal or performance. The Four Articulations is intended to be taken home and practiced; to be shared with friends and colleagues; to be tested and applied in show creation, rehearsal, and performance. 

The first physical exercise has been taught in physical actor training for over 50 years, but, usually incorrectly or ineffectively. If this first exercise is an ‘eye-opener’ about training, then the later exercises open the ‘third eye’, so to speak, or one's creative intuition.

The Seidenstein Method - Four Articulations - Quantum Theatre use a holographic principle so that even the very first exercise in Body (1) clearly encapsulates the essence of all the exercises.

Once the The Four Articulations  are introduced anyone can see clearly a beautiful undulation between the Body (1) and one’s creative essence as tested in Time-Space Continuum (4).

Ira with a group of workshop participants in Auckland, New Zealand, 2010.

A Lifetime of Research

Ira Seidenstein began independent research into actor and theatre training in the early 1970s. As a young actor Ira encountered a variety of acting and theatre methods that were contradictory as well as antagonistic to one another. Yet, he witnessed that no method had consistent success nor consistent failure.

Ira felt there must be something that the successful actor/student was doing that the less successful actor/student was not doing. He interviewed every actor he encountered not only about the formal actor training they had but also about formative training they may have had in areas such as dance, sport, or martial arts. He asked where they grew up and about the circumstances of their youth. Additionally asking about their favorite teachers during their formal actor training.

Various patterns began to emerge, and Ira concluded that although every acting method is good, none of them work for most actors. In fact, he found that there is likely some key universal principle(s) that the successful actor/student has stumbled upon unconsciously. He called the key principle – The Principle of Four – an integration of Body-Voice-Performance-Creativity as the basis for good or embodied acting.

In 1976 he began to formulate a short ‘kata’ of ten anatomical movements found inside dance, acrobatics, and martial arts. This series is called Core Mechanics. The sixth movement, The Twist Choreography, proved to be miraculous in terms of generating energy and creativity. From this Ira extracted a simpler version he calls The Creative Twist. Those two exercises locate The Principle of Four that any excellent actor has found subconsciously. That pair of 'twist' exercises are also referred to as The Vitruvian Exercises.

Ira also was fascinated by another question – “What works when, and under what circumstances?”

The Four Articulations starts from that question - “What works when, and under what circumstances?” in relation to the training of theatre practitioners. Each exercise is a tool to answer that question within the actor's body in the space of the theatre.

After decades of professional research in the field of acting, and a related fields such as yoga, healing, metaphysics, science, and an M.A. in Visual & Performing Arts, Ira found during his PhD (Education) studies that anthropologist Pierre Bourdieu had a related philosophy based on his idea of habitus or the early learning of an individual that was embodied.

Similar to Bourdieu’s theory of illusio, Ira had found that when it came to actor (theatre, performance etc) training that there were a number of illusions that ‘misdirected’ the learner away from self-empowerment. Bourdieu found that such misdirection was affected by what he (Bourdieu) termed illusio, mis-recognition, and symbolic violence that tended to disempower the participant caused by the preaching of orthodoxy (‘authorities’) in any field.

This is somewhat related, in a tangential way, to Gurdjieff’s general teaching that to 'work' is to counteract man’s being 'asleep'. Gurdjieff is mentioned only in an historical context as someone who gave the most simple words to describe what has been known in all Cultures.

Ira assists any actor (professional, veteran, or novice) to re-start a process of awakening within; their own body, intellect, consciousness and creative play. In other words, via one’s 'habitus' one can begin to “work” and thus not be “asleep”. In some very practical ways The Seidenstein Method - The Four Articulations for Performance - Quantum Theatre: Slapstick to Shakespeare; is like the yoga of acting. The Four Articulations is also referred to as "Pushups For Clowns", though the exact same exercises and template are applicable for actors, directors, teachers.

Ira Seidenstein