The Seidenstein Method
The Four Articulations
“The Four Articulations” encapsulates The Seidenstein Method. It is both a workshop and a template for actors, directors and performance companies to have a set of modules that will 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:
- Time-Space Continuum
Body, time, space, time-space 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. The veteran performer, novice, director, teacher, dancer or choreographer can use these exercises and concepts in their own way.
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 the spirit of Eastern Practices.
“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 first physical exercise has been taught in physical actor training for over 50 years, but, usually incorrectly and 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 uses 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).
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 unsuccessful 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, a twisting choreography, proved to be miraculous in terms of generating energy and creativity. From this Ira extracted a simpler version he calls “The Creative Twist” or the “Vitruvian Exercise”. That is the exercise that locates The Principle of Four that any excellent actor has found subconsciously.
Ira also was fascinated by another question – “What works when, and under what circumstances?”
So The Seidenstein Method starts from: Core Mechanics, The Creative Twist, The Principle of Four, and the question “What works when, and under what circumstances?” in relation to the training of theatre practitioners.
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 from empowerment. Bourdieu found that such misdirection was affected by what he (Bourdieu) termed “illusio”, “mis-recognition”, and “symbolic violence” that tended to disempower the learner by the preaching of orthodoxy (‘authorities’) in any field.
This is somewhat related, in a tangential way, to Gurdjieff’s teaching related to “work” and man’s being “asleep”.
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 is like the yoga of acting.