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School: The Central School of Speech and Drama
Author: Robert Macdonald
Title: Sensory Appreciation, Posture, Vocal Functioning and Shakespearean Text Performance
Award: MA in Voice Studies
Submitted: September 1995

This Action Research Project involves a study of three cases and investigates the role that the Alexander Technique plays in improving the sensory appreciation employed by actors and how that changes their posture, vocal functioning and eventual performance of Shakespearean Text. The effectiveness of audio-visual and mirror image feedback as a self-reflective monitor and the extent to which this empowers the performance of Shakespeare's Text is observed. Explanations which clarify the relationship between the Alexander Technique and performance, and practical procedures which integrate a conscious sensory appreciation, preventive awareness and the acting process are developed. The Dissertation introduces the work of F.M. Alexander, reviews his books and summarises his ideas. How he came to realise the issue of unreliable sensory appreciation is discussed. An historical survey of the literature is included. Sensory appreciation and the proprioceptive sense are defined and their relationship is considered. Assumptions regarding the relationship between sensory appreciation, posture and vocal functioning are presented. The work of leading voice teachers and the extent to which they consider, in their published work, the role of sensory appreciation in posture and vocal functioning is discussed. The methodology, the criteria used to assess improvements in sensory appreciation, the data analysis using Within Case and Cross Case Comparison presented in Table Format are included. The Research concludes that sensory appreciation is an underlying factor in efficient posture and instrumental in improving vocal functioning and the performance of Shakespearean Text, that the Alexander Technique has a fundamental contribution to make in the teaching of voice and clarifies through sensory experience the relationship between the postural mechanisms and the respiratory - vocal reflex. Sensory appreciation is considered to be a crucial factor in bridging the gap between theory and practice and the ability to understand and implement new instructions freely. Sensory appreciation as a factor which facilitates acting and performance is discussed.

Published as 'The Use of the Voice' 0-9529870-0-7
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