Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Aaron Anderson

Second Advisor

Keith Kirk

Third Advisor

Jesse Njus


After watching an incredible performance onstage, one might turn to a fellow audience member and exclaim, “Wow! That actor is so talented!” But what does the word talented mean? Is that actor simply blessed with an innate ability? If we as acting teachers base our work on the assumption that superior performance is only possible if someone is lucky enough to have won the talent lottery, it limits our ability to improve our pedagogy and our students’ chances to develop their skills. The theory underpinning deliberate practice, on the other hand, argues that the quality of practice matters far more than innate ability. By understanding the mental representations used by expert actors, any actor can use deliberate practice to improve their skills. Even though acting is an expressive art form, we can adapt the principles of deliberate practice to apply to it. The particular skill that sets some actors apart from the rest is their ability to be present in the moment onstage. Alexander Technique offers one way to develop the skill of presence and to make all practice more deliberate. In an introductory acting class, I applied Alexander Technique principles to teach presence using deliberate practice. The experience demonstrated some of the advantages and challenges of the approach and presented more questions for future research.


© Melissa Freilich

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission


Available for download on Monday, February 28, 2220

Included in

Acting Commons