"It's a rigorous class, filled with readings and big ideas, but it's grounded in techniques that will set your guts on fire and get you to start really acting , instead of just faking it really well. There is something revolutionary in his technique and it will put you above all other actors in L.A."--JB Waterman
What level of student is the course aimed at?
The course is aimed at the serious student of acting,
advanced or beginner, who wants to reflect on his or her craft and
scrutinize his or her notions of what acting is about. My class
will help students of all levels to do this. The technique I teach
is Stanislavsky-based, but the most important insights I offer are
refinements or radical clarifications of Stanislavsky arrived at
by my teachers at Yale. These insights have not yet been written
about to speak of, and are not widely known. And they probably never
will be that widely known, because you can't really learn them from
a book. You need someone to make it live before your eyes. Yes,
ladies and gentlemen, we're talking about secret knowledge here,
arcane lore that Gandalf or Yoda themselves would sell their old
grandmothers for. And I am offering it to you now for an unbeatable
low price. Just try some comparison shopping at some of the Big
Theaters in town and you'll see what I mean. (As demand grows, though,
the price will start to creep up...)
Unless you studied with one of my teachers or
someone who studied with one of them, you probably haven't encountered
these very powerful points of technique. These points can unleash
tremendous power and facility in an actor, but they are challenging
to come to terms with. With respect to these central points of
the technique, the experienced actor and the novice will be more
or less in the same boat. A few topics covered in the
class may be somewhat familiar to the experienced student, but
everyone will encounter several very provocative challenges to
their notions of the craft of acting over the course of the ten
Beginners are welcome, as long as they are ready
to dedicate serious time and energy to the class. It will probably
feel like watching a landslide descend on you for a while, so brace
yourself. But if you are hungry, adventurous, plucky, and ready
to work, you will benefit. It is not a course for dabblers or dilettantes.
Serious amateurs, though, are welcome. I am less concerned with
the nature of your ambitions than with your dedication to growing
as an actor.
Is the class targeted at stage actors or
The class is targeted at actors. I contend that
acting is acting. Adjustments need to be made for various mediums
and circumstances, but if you aren't clear about WHAT it is you
are adjusting, then those adjustments and fifty cents would have
bought you a cup of coffee 15 years ago. Ultimately, I think this
distinction between film and theater acting is given way too much
play. Just figure out how to act well. The rest will take care
Also, see a relevant entry from my blog here. >>Back
I don't need a technique. I have instincts.
Congratulations. You have something in common
with earthworms and hedgehogs. No, seriously, instincts are wonderful.
They are the best thing an actor has. But are you SURE you are
in touch with them? Are you REALLY sure? Are you sure sometimes,
but not so sure at other times? Have you been in situations where
your instincts were mysteriously silent? Well, then...
Technique is there to support and channel your
instincts appropriately, and to give you a range of tools to reach
for when that instinctual engine just won't turn over. It happens
to the best of us.
And besides that, freedom lies on the other side
of technique, a wise person once said. You may have great musical
instincts, but if you're like most of us, you need to learn to
play a few scales before you can bang out that Chopin Nocturne.
It's just paying your dues. Didn't you watch the TV show Fame?
Don't you remember in the opening sequence, when Ms. Grant says "You
want fame? Well fame costs. And right here's where you start paying.
In sweat...." I guess I'm dating myself. But anyway, like
that. You know what I'm talking about. And it's not all strenuous
exertion. You do have those light-bulb moments when stuff starts
to add up. And when you get one of those after you've really worked
for it, you'll know you have it forever. >>Back
Is this technique in use in the profession?
Yes, by some of the best directors working today. Evan
Yionoulis and Mark
Brokaw attended Yale in the mid-eighties and created the
technique from what they learned in classes with David Hammond
and Earle Gister. Mark has directed many, many successful Off-Broadway
and Broadway productions, including This is Our Youth (with
Mark Ruffalo, before he was Mark Ruffalo), How I Learned
to Drive (with Mary Louise Parker), As Bees in Honey
Drown (with J. Smith-Cameron), and many, many others. Evan
recently directed The Violet Hour on Broadway with Robert
Sean Leonard, and is a longtime collaborator with Patricia Clarkson,
who attended Yale in the same period as Mark and Evan and studied
the same technique. Mark and Evan taught the technique for more
than ten summers with the Yale Summer School Acting Program,
and both went on to teach it at the Yale School of Drama. >>Back
How much time per week should I plan to
Class meets for three hours a week. Students are
expected to meet for 90 minutes a week with their scene partners.
For the first 6 weeks, there are assigned readings that take up
to an hour a week. In addition, all students should plan on spending
around two hours a week studying the play they are working on,
analyzing it, daydreaming about it in a productive way, and otherwise
preparing to rehearse. So all told, around eight hours a week
including class time. It lessens a bit half way through the course
once the assigned readings end, but eight hours is the neighborhood
you need to be in consistently to make the course a meaningful
experience for you.
Will I get to show my scene every week?
No. Everyone participates in exercises in the
technique portion of the class (see about the class). But you present
your scene only twice over the course of the cycle, in addition
to Session 10, Friends and Family night. When you go up in class,
I spend about an hour to an hour and a half working with you and
your partner. This is anything but your typical scene-study-class-10-minutes-of-superficial-feedback-thanks-next
type of arrangement. I work intensively with you and your partner
to come a few steps closer to fulfilling the necessities of your
A consequence of this is that you spend a large
portion of the scene study portion of the class observing your
fellow students' work with me on the scene. And this is as it should
be. This is how all of my significant acting class experiences
at Yale were, and I believe strongly that it is the best way to
conduct such a class. Having a longer session when you go up means
that there is depth to the feedback you are getting, and when you
are observing, you can watch how engaging the principles taught
in the class takes your colleagues one step closer to fullfilling
the scene, and absorb it all in a more relaxed frame of mind than
when you go up. Students constantly tell me: "You
know, it's when I am watching that I really start to put things
You are not in that deer-in-the-headlights kind of headspace, and
as a result you are in a better position to connect the proverbial
dots. Trust me: it works.
ALSO: It is usually possible to take on a second
scene if you are interested. This means twice as much rehearsal
and preparation time outside of class, but you will also be able
to get up twice as many times over the course of the cycle. >>Back
Is the technique intellectual?
The goal of the technique I teach is to produce
viscerally compelling, lucid performances, NOT intellectual performances.
On the way to the lucidity part, though, you are going to need
some smarts. Smarts are an important tool for every serious actor,
conventional wisdom notwithstanding. Streetsmarts work as well
as booksmarts, but you will need to be able to think things through.
You'll need to be able to figure out how someone gets from point
A to point B by passing through point J and point ZZ on the way.
And you're also going to need some serious thoughtfulness and introspection
to get at the single hot, visceral need that drives the character
at every moment, which is the cornerstone of the technique I teach.
The goal is ultimately to puncture your intellectual understanding
of the character and his or her world and get at something RAW,
but we need to have something to puncture first. The only way out
of your head is through your head. Shall we?>>Back
Can I audit the class?
FREE SCRIPT ANALYSIS WORKSHOP: Thursday night, March 7.>>Back
RSVP here to obtain a slot.
I'm afraid not. If you take the course, you'll find out that
you have to abide by a fairly rigorous attendance policy: only
one absence over the course of the ten weeks. This helps assure
that the people in the class are present consistently, a key element
in creating an environment where people feel safe to take risks
and leap into the freedom we all know as children. Having people
outside the class drop in periodically to scrutinize what we are
doing does not contribute to this kind of atmosphere. BUT, you
can have a coffee date with me, and I'll talk to you about the
class at length. This should give you some sense of the class.
I can provide you with the email addresses of students who can
talk to you about how the class has served them. And finally, there's
the payment structure: the class is on a pay-as-you-go basis, so
there is nowhere near the kind of risk you find in most classes,
where you have to pay in full before starting. If you have a good
hunch about the class, then you don't lose much by giving it a
try, even if you find it's not to your liking. You can always opt
out. It doesn't tend to happen, though. People who are serious
about acting, and have taken the trouble to make sure they have
the bandwidth to take on something like this, and are ready to
work, inevitably find the class to be an exciting and valuable
challenge. Come give it a try.
Is method acting taught in this class?
Depends on what you mean by method. The word "method" is
sometimes used to distinguish between ANY Stanislavsky-based work
on the one hand, and older styles of acting which were only concerned
with "external" concerns such as articulation, intonation, gesture,
and alignment or posture on the other. In other words, "method" is
sometimes used to mean any approach in which the inner life of
the actor while acting is considered to be of paramount importance.
In that sense, the approach taught in my class most emphatically
is and should be seen as "method." However, "method" is also often
used (the two usages make for a lot of confusion) to mean the type
of work engendered by Lee Strasberg, based on some explorations
he saw Stanislavsky conduct when he visited him in Russia. This
work is known as "emotional memory" work, and the idea is that
the actor, while rehearsing or performing, is attempting to relive
a particular emotionally compelling event from his or her own past
to generate behavior and feeling somehow appropriate to the moment
being created by the writer. In this sense, my class is definitely
NOT "method acting." In my class, acting is viewed as an attempt
to enter and experience an imaginary or fictional world, and the
emotional responses to that world are born out of the present moment,
and out of the work the actor has done to invest this world and
the people who populate it with importance for himself or herself.
The actor's personal past is important as part of his or her PREPARATION
process, but is not a part of the rehearsal or performance process.
In my class, while in the rehearsal process or in performance,
we want you firmly and solidly rooted in the here and
now. What's past is prologue, as the man said. >>Back
I've had a lot of prior training. Can I start with the Advanced class?
No. The Advanced class is not a class for actors
at a particular level of proficiency; it is a class that creates an opportunity for people
who have spent some time acquainting themselves with the approach
taught here at Mother of Invention to be able to work together.
There's a lot of great training and experience out there to be
had, but until you have gotten to know what THIS way of working
is all about, you won't be a fit for the Advanced class.
How do I register for the class?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange to meet for coffee. This is not an interview. If you meet me for coffee, and hear my explanation of the expectations and workings of the class, and you feel it's a fit for you, you will be welcome.
How big is the class?
No larger than 12 students.