* pages about biomechanics (BM) in this directory. Summary/overview of acting2 -- THR221 Intermediate Acting: biomx. 2009 Spring acting class -- see acting2 forum.


... images & exercises




pre-acting *
Use of acting one pages for other acting courses. method.vtheatre.net

Kids, this is training, do not act this way, unless it's a directorial concept, a style.

After breaking it apart, practice, making it habitual. Forget it, and go back to the beginning. Put it back together, close the hood -- and drive. Now you know how it works, and, if it doesn't, you know what isn't working and how to fix it.

Look, I write it not for you, when you know what to do, but for the moments when you need help. If can get it without any analysis, great! If you do right things without training, wonderful! But I don't believe in it... Not all the time...

Important: Dramatic Event and Stage Event. Your translation into Theatrical (Stage) LANGUAGE -- performance.

"In developing his system, Meyerhold created a vocabulary of movement. The terminology of Theatrical Biomechanics offers actors a universal language of the body, functioning in much the same way as Italian for musians or French for ballet dancers..." Theatre Topics.

More in BM directory *

Physical Theatre = Movement

2004 *


The biomechanical way of training the actors body starts from the principles of tailoring the movements. The theory of Frederick Winslow Taylor for rejecting all unnecessary movements during the work, in order to reach greater productivity and effectiveness, and reduce the consumption of physical power of the worker, corresponds to Meyerholds experiments in the theater and to his searching for an actor who will respond to these experiments. "In the work process, it is possible not only to distribute properly the rest period, says Meyerhold in one of his speeches, but it is necessary to find such moments during work, (Meyerholds italics M. P.) which will thus provide the very best use of the whole working time [...] This refers completely to the actor of a future theater." The part which Meyerhold stressed in this declaration is, in fact an improvement of Taylors theory. However, Vsevolod Emilevich, in his creative demands, cannot be reduced to beeing a mere imitator of the thesis "man-machine", which was very popular in Soviet Russia in the years after the October Revolution. It is quite clear that he recognizes the actor as some kind of a machine (one of the principles of biomechanics says: "the body is a machine, the worker is a machinist"), with a very important correction he lets the actor preserve creativity in his acting. That is the idea of actors ambiguity. Specifically, starting from Coquelin senior, saying that the actor is both a creator and a substance to the creativity, Meyerhold says: "It seems that in each actor, when starting to play his role, there are two actors: the first one is himself, the actor who actually exists and is ready to play the role on stage A1, and the second, who doesnt yet exist, whom the actor is ready to send on stage A2. A1 looks upon A2 as material which still needs to be worked upon. Firstly, A1 should consider A2 within the stage area, since it is clear that the actors performance depends greatly upon the size of the stage, its shape etc." Such a structured concept of the actors technique is linked to the need for "excitement", as a necessary element in the actors art. To Meyerhold, "the excitement is the capability to convey an externally received task through feelings, movements and words [...]. The co-ordinated demonstration of reflecting excitement, in fact, represent the actors performance." The actor-creator (A1 using the terminology of Vsevolod Emilevich), quite consciously, using his previous knowledge, capabilities, physical abilities and, of course, following the theatre directors own concept, shapes the material which is at his disposal -- primarily his own body. Up until now, the need for biomechanics and its principles, primarily as a method of training for an actor, but also as a principle for stage performance, has only been applied to its fullest extent in a couple of performances (in the Magnificent Cuckold and in the Death of Tarelkin). From this point of view, The Cuckold is, perhaps, the most extreme example of Meyerholds work, but, as Vsevolod Emilevich says, "The Generous Cuckold" "was to demonstrate the basis of the new technique of the play in a new artistic situation," particularly, to raise the actors performance to the absolute limits of the experiment, to test in practice the theoretical surmises of Meyerhold and his colleagues. [ from Meyerhold ]




* Descriptions for Yoga exerc. [ list ] ...

Biomech in Class

SMART BODIES ACT! Stupid bodies behave...
I am directing Dangerous Liaisons (Spring 2002) and having difficult times establishing relationships between Valmont and Merteiul. As usual we went through the "table period" and use of method for character exploration... three weeks before the preview.

What do you do when Method Acting is not working? Go Biomechanical -- physical. So, we tried a few things, including boxing between ex-lovers. No, they won't box in the show, but Merteiul does slap Valmont on the face -- this physical action organized my actress tempo in this mini-monologue. The same with their dialogue, which I put on the top of dancing. You see, actors do need something to work with -- prop, costume, set and -- movement! They need directions!

Because they will be directing audience!

[ Kaplan, Part II. Episodes, p.61 ]
Limitations of Method Acting: unpredictability of emotional changes (Freud and theory of association, ID ]
... Ecstacy is the notorious inner experience, the "authentic emotion"; it is the system og my teacher Konstantin Stanislavsky, who, by the way, will probably abandon it very shortly. We need not ecstacy by excitation, based firmly on the physical premise. Meyerhold Meyerhold on Theatre. From a report of the lecture in Teatralnaya Moscow, 1922, #45
1. aim --> 2. action --> 3. release --> 4. stop
[ Acting Page ]

Basic. Theory. Language of physical action

3D Time (actor must remember that both other times must included in the present; past and future (from where you come and where you going).

Movement is nothing more, but changes in SPACE. We wouldn't be able to do it without TIME. Time has its own time dimensions (3) and many combinations o those three: present-past, present-future, and so on (like in grammar, only in our case -- in motion language).

Any change in space creates time sense. Novice actors are not aware that any movement reads as time-space message. If a move isn't motivated (aesthetically processed), it's a noise. (The should be said about not moving, when the drama asks for changes).

Such restrictions lead us to understanding that any move from A to B, asks for establishing A and B. The same regulations we know in written word grammar. Meyerhold believed that any movement sentence needs "period," stop-mark. He introduces a verb, and a noun into movement sentence.

Meyerhold proposes "1-2-3" structure as a composition of action. VOCABULARY OF MOVEMENT in his own words bigins with Excitability.

An actor must posses the capacity for Reflex Excitablity. Nobody can become an actor without it.

Excitability is the ability to realize in feeling,1 movements and words a task which is prescribed externally.

The manifistation of excitability
The coordinated manifistations of excitability together constitute the actor's performance. Each separate manifistation comprises an acting cycle.2
Each acting cycle comprises three invariable stages:


The intention is the intellectual assimilation of a task prescribed externally by the dramatist, the director, or the initiative of the performer.

The realization is the cycle of volitional, mimetic3 and vocal reflexes.
The reaction is the attenuation of the volitional reflex as it is realized mimetically and vocally in oreparation for the reception of a new intention (the transition to a new acting cycle)...

[Meyerhold, Bebutov and Aksyonov, Emploi aktera, Moscow, 1922, pp. 3-4]4

Basic composition of movement consists (as any other composition) of exposition (intention), middle (realization) and resolution (reaction). [Garin's dedcription of the errow etude.]

Again, acting as reacting. By reacting to imagenary event we creat this event -- visualization. (Pantomime is based on this phenomena). By reatcing to space, we creat space. Distance gives ua a tool to contrast the space. The intention (preparation) gives us not only a sense of distance, but a direction as well. That's how space dimention becomes drmatic.

OTKAZ (): (the refusal) a counter-movement, a preparation for the action which also signals the partner that the actor is reaqdy to interact. Meyerhold believed that all movement has a counter-movement, no matter how minute, which initiates it.

PACIL (): (the sending) both the commitment to end the doing of the action.

TORMOZ (): (the brake) the restrain which must be applied simultaneously with the forward momentum of the PACIL to maintain control.

TOCHKA (): (a poi9nt in space, a period at the end of the sentense) or STOIKA (a stance). Those two terms are often used interchangeably. Both refer to the completion of the action at the specific point in space and time.

POWSA (): (the pause) a moment of stillness, an elegant counterpoint to the physical activity. However, the body, even in stillness, is never in repose. It continues to radiate the dynamic evergy of readiness for the next action."

Jane Baldwin "Meyerhold's Theatrical Biomechanics" Theatre Topic Sept. 1995

Aim -- establishing the target. Action -- physical execution. Release -- "reaction," dismisal, rejection og the done action. Stop. Full stop, separation of one acting cycle from the previous one. In acting exersises step 4 is done with the total break from the previous act. Two famous Meyerhold's etudes -- the arrow and the slap on the face. First is done individually (and better to start with), the later -- in pairs.


Folks, most of the pages in Acting Directory are lost and I have to have time before I can restore them.

I understand that the BM terms are new for you, but there are several acting methods close to Meyerhold (Laban, Moving Points).

[ How to use BM for acting and directing Beckett (Endgame)? How to move from BM to Method and back? ]


Read BM pages!

Read "paper-acting" page!


I do not want to repeat the same pages in BM and Method Directories, I see this Acting directory differently as a combination of both Method and Biomechanics... and I have to find the way to do it.

1The term "feelings" is used in strictly technical sense with no loose, sentimental connotation.

2Literary "element of acting." [Translator.]

3"Mimetic reflexes" comprise all the movements performed by the separate parts of the actor's body and the movements of the entire body in space. [Meyerhold's note.]

4Meyerhold on Theatre. p.201

Next : Theatre Biomechanics




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