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The Relationship Between Breath and Acting

What is the role of breathing in the art of acting? To me, a compelling performance is a union of voice, body, and imagination. My fascination is with the voice, and how it can either reveal or distort the truth of the performance. It is my belief that breath plays an essential role in discovering and communicating the truth of the acting moment (and all the moments of our lives, for that matter).

How do you train breath connection to voice and acting? In the Linklater work, which is what I practice, we start by paying attention to the centre of the diaphragm, and to the natural rhythm of breathing.
Wherever you are right now, I invite you to tune in to the feeling of your breath in your body. Notice it flowing in and out. Notice the rise and fall of your chest, and your abdomen. Notice your breath but don't DO anything to it. Soften your belly muscles, if you can. Let your shoulders relax. Pay attention to the centre of the dome of your diaphragm as it rises and falls. Notice how connecting to your everyday natural rhythm of breathing makes you feel.
Let your lips part slightly, so your breath flows in and out through your mouth (as if you were just about to speak). Feel the cool air coming in through your lips, and dropping down into the centre of your body. Feel warm air pass through your lips on your outgoing breath.
Know that this breath, coming in and out of your body, is you. Your breath is a willing escape of YOU from inside to outside. Breath goes out. Then you wait for the impulse to breathe in again, and let the breath drop in. On your outgoing breath, think "let go". Then trust. Know that your next in-breath will come. This is a very central, tiny, TINY exchange. Keep this up for 1-2 minutes.
See if you can remain connected to your breath as you go about your day. Does this have an impact on the events and relationships that you encounter?

Kristin Linklater, my mentor and teacher (and the originator of all of this work), said:

"Breath is the key to restoring the deepest connections with impulse, with emotion, with imagination and thereby with language. The voice is not just a musical instrument to be played skillfully—it is a human instrument." 

The Alchemy of Breathing, 2009

Of course this is true for everyone, but even more so for the actor.

What do you think? If you try what I've suggested, and have some results to share, please comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

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