"I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being." - Oscar Wilde
One of the greatest places for a person to explore the true business of “being human” is an acting class. Theatre is collaborative therefore it cannot be done alone or in a vacuum. It requires actors willing to risk connection- raw, vulnerable connection- both terrifying and exhilarating!
As a teacher, a person who simply passes down what I have known, what has been given to me...I find it essential to create first, the safe space, where it is okay to fail, to look stupid, to step out of the realm of one’s own mind and preconceived ideas. For actors to truly thrive, the safe environment is essential because once they have discovered it in the classroom and in themselves, they can take it to any job, any project, any place in the world they choose to give.
There are many techniques I use in my classes that help the actor achieve the above mentioned goals. One of the most effective has been the use of Laban Movement. It serves the performer to step on stage as a movement based person, create choreography, find rhythms in the text but most importantly serves as a wonderful tool for characterization. Once the actor masters the eights expressions of float, glide, press, wring, slash, punch, flick and dab, they are able to access these on an internal level, thus creating multidimensional characters on stage.
Other exercises and approaches I use come from those of The Group Theatre with their ensemble based philosophy and drive. I also use the work of Michael Chekhov for Imagination and Creative work, Stanislavski for text analysis and objective work and The Alexander Technique for body understanding and working with ease.
As for acting, I believe in truthful, moment-to-moment acting. My background is Meisner based but there are many ways to help the student find the present moment. Repetition is ideal if there is time and commitment on behalf of the students and the format of the class. There are a series of building blocks to take the students through. First, helping them to truly experience what it means to be in their bodies, listening to their fellow actors and responding honestly. Next, layering on the elements of scene work including: relationship, place, objectives, obstacles and tactics. Finally, guiding them to becoming their own autonomous voice where they are actor and performer, artist and professional.
“Acting is a spiritual quest to touch human beings." - Larry Moss