Spotlight on Students in Studio Shows

It always gives the Acting Conservatory faculty a sense of accomplishment when a student moves on to the actual stage.  Silas Gordon Brigham progressed from the classroom to understudy in The Real Thing, and this season he played the role of Alex in the critically acclaimed Studio Lab production of The Wolfe Twins. 


Where were you, in terms of your process as an actor, when you first started taking classes at the Acting Conservatory?

Silas: The first class I took at the Conservatory was a few years before I really began the program.  It was a turning point for me.  I was deciding whether or not to go back to school for something else and I was really, really torn between this other thing and acting. My cousin and long-time writing partner encouraged me to take steps to explore both options as I was feeling frozen with indecision.  I visited the school and looked into the masters program and was very close to enrolling in school to be an acupuncturist and/or herbalist.  I also signed up for the only class that fit my schedule at the Conservatory at Studio at the time.  It was an Improv class on Saturday mornings.  I worked late Friday nights so I was often tired.  Anyway, it just felt right.  Someone had given me the wonderful advice to go towards what feels light and away from what feels heavy.  So I did!  It felt really great to be practicing acting again.  It had been a few years.  That experience really felt like it unclogged something for me, and I was lucky enough to work on a film with a wonderful group of people after that. I spent the next few years working in indie films in the area.  I was feeling very rusty in terms of theatre.  My brain just wanted to think in terms of film.  I went to an open call for Studio 2ndStage on my birthday a couple years ago.  After some callbacks the director generously gave me some blunt and helpful feedback. I didn't get the part. With encouragement from some kind folks at the Conservatory, I enrolled in classes starting that fall. I had an understudy part that summer and learned a lot from that as well.  And that experience also helped me to feel unstuck.  I really wanted a clear process to lean on and spring off of—a way to really begin working on a role and techniques to use when stuck.  I was very excited and nervous to begin classes.

Was it always a goal for you to work professionally, or did the experience at the Conservatory open a pathway for you?

Silas: It was a goal of mine.  I came into the program always thinking about film first—thinking about what I would do in film and then trying to translate it into what would work in theatre.  The Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory has connected me with theatre in a way that I never have been before.  And I'm learning to think in theatre and film instead of having to translate. The Conservatory has definitely opened pathways for me.  The Conservatory also introduced me to so many wonderful people who have taught me and supported me.  Being part of a community of people working toward similar goals is invaluable. 

Tell us about an ‘aha’ moment for you in your training at the Conservatory. 

Silas: One of the exercises, the statue pantomimes, was really useful to me.  I wasn't very excited about it at the beginning, honestly.  I always had to drag myself to the pantomimes.  What I ended up learning about pantomime was that it encouraged me to have a specific and detailed relationship to the space and the things in my space and my circumstances.  The more detailed I was in creating those things in my mind the more free I felt.  Then the details became like a scaffold where my emotions felt more supported and free.  If that makes sense.  Another great moment was when our teacher reminded us when creating a character "don't ignore the obvious."  That was very useful.  It can be easy to miss the obvious sometimes.  I've had other moments that are harder to articulate.

Do you feel that the training you received at the Conservatory prepared you for a professional rehearsal process and for performance?

Silas: It provided me with many tools.  Some very specific tools that were useful to me in building a character.  Also just the practice of feeling exposed and foolish in front of people and collaborating with them.  And the support and advice of my wonderful friends and teachers who I have met through the Conservatory was extremely helpful.

What advice would you give students who are new to the Conservatory?

Silas: I can only say what has helped me.  It has helped me so much to take classes as seriously as I would take any job.  And I don't mean that I'm not having fun.  I have SO much fun.  Realizing that this is a gift I'm giving myself so the more I give the more I get.  Listening and connecting sometimes feels like the whole point to me. Sometimes it is hard and I feel super lazy and I want to go to happy hour like the people I walk past when I'm getting more coffee.  But wanting to be present for my classmates and myself is a great motivator for me.  Trying to connect to the bigger picture, the collaborative process really helps me learn.

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Interviews and conversations with members of the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory community.