The BOS Method of Emotional Effector Patterns are a psychophysiological system to train actors to access and modulate the expression and communication of their emotions at will in an objective way with the minimal use of personal emotional experience (Zarrilli, 2002:97-98). They are the result of a long-term research project developed at the University of Chile in Santiago in the early 1970s by psychologist Susana and neurophysiologist Guy Santibañez, and later, theatre director Pedro Orthous. Together they developed a system to assist actors to better express emotions onstage, naming the procedure the BOS Method (Bloch, Orthous & Santibáñez 1987). In 1993 Bloch, renamed the BOS Method as Alba Emoting™ and offered the first training seminar in Alba Emoting™ to actors and teachers worldwide. Since that time, the interest in Alba Emoting™ has broadened to include psychotherapeutic, and ontological applications. As a multi-disciplined technique, it is taught and practiced globally under a variety of names including, Alba Emoting™, Alba Technique, the Alba Method, and Emotional Body.
In the initial development of the BOS Method, Bloch and her associates utilized “direct observation and by electrophysiological recording during emotional recall and reliving of emotional experiences, in normal, neurotic and hypnotized subjects” (Bloch, 2002:221). They concluded that “specific emotional feelings were linked to specific patterns of breathing, facial expression, degree of muscular tension, and postural attitudes” which, they termed “effector patterns”. Using these effector patterns, they identified and analyzed six basic emotions: joy, anger, sadness, fear, eroticism, and tenderness (Bloch, 1993). Basic emotion, as defined by Bloch are “those types of emotional behaviors which are present in the human infant either as innate behaviors or apparent at very early stages of post-natal development” (2002:222). Bloch contends that each of the basic emotions can be voluntarily evoked by activating, with precision, the corresponding effector pattern, which is “composed of: (1) a breathing pattern, characterized by amplitude and frequency modulation; (2) a muscular activation characterized by a set of contracting and/or relaxing groups of muscles, defined in a particular posture; (3) a facial expression or mimicry characterized by the activation of different facial muscle patterns.” (2002:221). Bloch goes on to state that as the effector patterns are voluntary, change in emotional intensity can be achieved with control through a modulation of the somatic elements, (1993) and may retain the expressive components of the emotion with very little of the subjective involvement. (2002:222). After developing proficiency in the “basic emotion patterns” a person is then able to evoke more complex emotions such as, embarrassment, awe, pride, jealousy, by mixing somatic elements of the various effector patterns much like primary colours mix to produce new colours. (Bloch, 2002:229). In addition to the effector patterns, Bloch and her associates added what they termed a “step-out procedure”. The procedure, consisting of a pattern of slow, regular, and deep, breathing cycles followed by a total relaxation of the facial muscles and a relaxed and centrally aligned posture, is designed to return the person to a “neutral state” in order to fully release any previous emotional induction. (Bloch, 1993).
Bloch’s assertions have raised some controversy. Most notably from Konijn (2000:107) and Kemp (2012:184-187) who question whether Bloch’s research can be considered conclusive. However, there is a growing body of articles, dissertations, and anecdotal testimonies that support the effectiveness of her methodology. This is confirmed by the principal investigator and co-applicant’s personal and professional experience. In developing a teacher training, Bloch established six certification levels (CL). In 2016 Stroud received a CL 4 teaching accreditation and Buchli has completed a CL2. In their work with actors and dancers in the creative process, Stroud and Buchli contend Bloch’s claims of emotion control for the actor are demonstrable and warrant further investigation.
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Bloch, Susanna. “Alba Emoting: A Psychophysiological Technique to Help Actors Create and Control Real
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Bloch, Susanna, Pedro Orthous and Guy Santibáñez-H. "Effector Patterns of Basic Emotions: A
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Kemp, Rick. Embodied Acting: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Performance. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.
Konijn, Elly A. Acting Emotions: Shaping Emotions on Stage. Trans. Barbara Leach with David Chambers.
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Zarrilli, Phillip B., ed. Acting (Re)Considered: A Theoretical and Practical Guide. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2002.