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The study of acting should begin with physical action-- a specialized, structured, flexible and adaptable physical action that is enlisted in the direct service of the expression of thought and feeling. I call this integrated physical action an expressive action. An expressive action is any physical action that embodies a thought and feeling, which we use specifically for the purpose of expressing ourselves. While human expression is incredibly varied and flexible, surprisingly each individual act of human expression shares a universal pattern and structure. I suggest that unlocking this universal, physical pattern is a springboard for unlocking the entire acting process.

--Michael Lugering

Drawing on recent discoveries in philosophy, somatic psychology, neuroscience and aesthetics, this integrated method of actor training is preparatory and foundational. The training process is rooted in an integrated type of body-based exploration that does more than simply build essential skills in alignment, movement, respiration, resonance and range, but one that simultaneously prepares the actor for the expression of the body's richest and most powerful thoughts and feelings. Through exercises and improvisation, the actor develops an awareness of the preconscious, physical process that makes integrated thinking, feeling, moving, breathing, sounding and speaking possible. In this innovative and practical approach to training the ‘total actor,’ the traditionally disparate disciplines of acting, movement, breath and voice are synthesized in a unified method of training. The exercises transcend any specific acting style focusing on universal aspects of expression present in all types of theatre and performance. The goal is an expressive actor capable of a vivid, powerful and artful performance that is uniquely human and flexible and adaptable in performance.


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The Principles of Expressive Action explore the architecture of an expressive action—the physical raw materials that make expression possible. The study is foundationally an exploration of a shift of weight. The actor explores all the various physical properties that unite in the creation of a weight shift—its energy, orientation, size, progression, flow, direction, speed, weight, control and focus. I liken it to a type of an anatomy lesson, in which the actor is asked, “to dissect” an expressive action—to examine all its various physical components. Sensation and felt-experience guide and direct this study. Initially, the goal is not to investigate “why” we express ourselves, but “how.” Intellectual analysis, interpretation and justification are placed on hold so that we may gain a deeper awareness of “what” physical stuff our thoughts and feelings are made of, and “how” the body expresses them.


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The Voice and Body Exercises are comprised of a series of exercises that progress sequentially from lying, to sitting, to standing, and finally to upright locomotive movement. Each of the exercises incorporates a series of integrated moving, breathing and sounding actions. Through integrated physical action, the actor’s instrument is simultaneously sensitized, liberated, strengthened and developed. The goal is to ultimately re-structured the physical patterns present in the body for the playing of integrated full-bodied expressive action. These technical exercises are not arbitrary or randomly combined body, breath and voice exercises. They are specifically designed to mirror the “essential structure” and “universal form” of an expressive action. They are physical and vocal abstractions—actually physical representations of the very “essence” of an expressive action. In this context, these specialized voice and body exercises are simultaneously acting exercises.


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Stacking is improvisatory activity in which the actor builds an expressive action from the ground up. This involves an experiential exploration of the hierarchy of an expressive action. In this sequential process, the actor explores how a weight-shift, leads to a breath-shift, leads to a sound-shift, and finally a speech-shift in the integrated expression of thought of feeling.


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Similar to a ballet barre and musical scales, the Actors' Barre is a structured and repeatable exploration of 20 diverse expressive actions. The Actor’s Barre is designed to become a part of the actor’s daily workout. Once the barre is developed, it can easily be modified, adapted and changed. Through extended exploration innumerable new, different and unplanned expressive actions emerge in the improvisatory process. All the while the actor’s repertoire of expressive actions increases and becomes more nuanced and sophisticated. The barre seeks to cultivate a healthy respect for impulse, spontaneity and creativity, while simultaneously expanding the actor’s imagination and expressive power. Through the barre exercise, the actor learns new forms of expression never thought possible and many of which the actor has never experienced in his or her personal life. The goal is an instrument that is flexible and dynamic that is in direct contact with sensation and is, most importantly, hard-wired to play expressive actions.