Statement of Teaching Philosophy
My approach to actor training is Stanislavski–based, teaching the student to focus on the pursuit of a need through action as the key to unlocking story and emotion; however, in order to effectively pursue an objective, the actor’s instrument must be an open channel through which a character’s need can be truthfully expressed. While my early training was in sensory emotional work, I was always drawn to movement forms such as yoga, contact improvisation, and the hands–on work of Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais among others. In my professional life, I explored mask, clown, and the work of Jerzy Grotowski. By becoming a more physically available actor, the better actor I became. Exploring movement to foster greater freedom and presence in the performer is the basis of my acting pedagogy.
I utilize many movement exercises and techniques in my teaching including LeCoq–based mask and clown, and the Commedia dell’arte, each allowing the actor to find power in stillness and play, Laban for physical character study, and many exercises I have created or adapted based on my experience with these and other forms. However, my particular focus is the somatic–based practice of the Alexander Technique (AT), a psycho–physical technique that requires the actor to understand and take responsibility for his or her sensitive instrument, and which gently demands the actor develop an awareness of their particular body and breath patterns that can block full expression. AT is both a system of self–care and a foundational tool that leads to deep self–discovery, connecting the expression of thought and feeling to easeful and integrated movement of the body. As a certified AT practitioner, I focus on the positive and what is going well in my hands–on observations of the individual student so that muscular release is possible. The AT aids the acting process by first requiring the actor to examine their thinking and the state of their nervous system. Our thought patterns initiate our movement and affect our confidence and ability to express ourselves. Like the acting process, the Alexander Technique explores our reaction to stimulus. The body becomes a free, blank canvas on which to paint conscious character choices and enable spontaneous response.
I incorporate movement into my acting classroom and rehearsal space, as well as teach movement classes as they relate to acting work. In performance classes I begin by clearing the space and the mind with gentle floor exercises followed by various warm–ups on our feet. I provide hands–on support on the floorand fully participate myself while guiding the warm–up. In addition to individual Alexander Technique lessons and application of AT principles to exercises, I provide hands–on support during initial monologue and scene work, as habits tend to surface even more with the stimulus to perform. Students can learn a great deal by observing a fellow student receive hands–on direction. All of my work is consent–based, having training in intimacy direction for the theatre.
My theatre classroom is a creative laboratory in which students can safely ask questions, take risks, collaborate, and pull apart preconceptions they may have about themselves without judgment. I bring energy and warmth to my teaching and I value my role as a mentor to my students. I aim to use my experience and expertise in the movement to encourage authentic, sensitive, and confident actors. In turn, I continue to grow in my craft by learning from my students. Teaching is a transformative artistic exchange.