An important element for actors is to be able to maintain focus and control. The Suzuki technique for acting, created by theatre director Tadashi Suuzki, is a great exercise to improve one’s physical precision and strength. This method is extremely intense and unique, exercises include stomping, squatting and other obscure body movements which help actors maintain discipline and far focus. It’s definitely a workout! The exercises are accompanied with percussive sounds, flutes and drums are used most often, and played at a slow pace.
There are many different strategies and activities within Suzuki, here are a few good ones that help with focus:
Start by standing against a wall in neutral position, bend your knees slightly with your hands relaxed by your side, preferably in a loose fist. As the percussion music plays, begin by stomping your legs to the rhythm, it’s important you keep your stomping in time. Everytime you change direction, turn your whole body and focus on what’s in front of you. Nothing should distract you.
Stomping usually goes for about 3-5 minutes, you will start to feel the burn in your legs so try to keep your body relaxed with a straight posture, the challenge is not to stop until the music stops.
Once that happens, fall to the ground and control your breathing. Now this is where it gets difficult, the aim is to control your breathing so much it looks like you’re not breathing at all. Once your breathing is steady, slowly start to move your body, you should be as slow as a snail.
With this exercise, your goal is to have a far focus, this should be something you gravitate towards, be thinking of what is pulling you up and start walking towards your focus. If you’re in a room, your focus should be at the back of the room. Once your focus is established keep walking towards it slowly. Once the music has stopped you should have come to a complete stop with your body in a neutral position just like in the beginning.
If you as an actor know you need to work on your focus, this is a perfect exercise for you. Everything about Suzuki is about discipline, so the more you try the better you’ll be with your body movement, breathing, balance and focus.
Another great exercise to try is focused more on balance, it’s less intense but still gives you a challenge. Start by crouching on your tippy toes with your hands hanging down from your chest. Now, to do this correctly you will need someone to clap or find something with a beat. The aim is to change positions without thinking about what you’ll do whenever there’s a clap, simply do whatever your body feels like making in that moment. Make sure your position is controlled and still. When there’s another clap you go back to your crouched position and repeat.
You can also do this activity on the ground, instead of balancing on your toes you can balance on your tailbone, now if you have a weak core, this can be challenging. Start by tucking your knees into your chest and hugging your legs, and make sure your toes are off the ground. This is your first position, whenever someone claps your aim is to change into a position without thinking about what you’re going to do. Your focus should be to maintain a still position and make sure you’re changing into a new position every time you hear a clap.
The Suzuki Method is not only a great focus technique, it’s also beneficial for your physical body and as an actor, your body is your most important instrument. It’s good to make sure you’re taking care of it and improve on areas that need work. Try Suzuki with a friend, or find acting workshop that teaches it, as it will help with your balance, focus, movements and discipline, just some of the most important tools actors need.