Spotlight on Classics classes

Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory’s three-year curriculum progresses from the study of Realism to the styles of Classical acting which starts with the Shakespeare I class and progresses to the Greek class. We sat down with Lilian, who completed the Shakespeare class last spring and is in Greek this fall.

What is it like studying at The Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory?  

'Studying at Studio demands everything of you: intense commitment, physical and emotional resilience, all-round stamina, unwavering focus, and depending on what class you’re taking, maybe even some blood, sweat and tears. However, what you get in return for this is priceless: superior and rigorous professional training that, at least from my perspective, feels on par with the training one would receive on an MFA program. For actors who are committed to learning and are fully able to invest the time and energy needed, I don’t think you can beat Studio Acting Conservatory in terms of the value of the training you receive.'

What was most significant for you, as a student, in the transition from the work in Character and Emotion—focusing on modern plays and characters--to working on the plays and characters of Shakespeare?  

It’s hard to list just one, there were so many. Probably the most significant element for me personally was the shift in the level of vocal strength and ability required; the range, support, dexterity, and sheer stamina (intellectual, physical, emotional and vocal) required for the study of Shakespeare. Also, the “stripped down” quality of classical work compared to modern plays was also another significant transition; the elimination of excess and the focus on the language, mining it to its fullest potential, bringing it alive, and letting it “do the heavy lifting” was another significant transition for me as a student and something which was really challenging, but fun to explore (and keep exploring, the work doesn’t end after Shakespeare!)

What skills acquired in Principles of Realism and Character and Emotion supported this exploration the most? 

While Shakespeare is definitely a transition requiring a different and sophisticated level of instrument proficiency (vocal work, intellectual understanding etc.), you’re still dealing with human beings and the realities of human emotions and life. So, basic skills from earlier classes were still applicable, I found; things like having clear and strong objectives, fully realized given circumstances, stimulus - response work, creating characters with full and multi-dimensional modes of vocal, physical and emotional responses, etc. When things start to feel like you’re in another world entirely, reminding myself of these founding principles from Principles of Realism and Character and Emotion helped me feel more centered and like I wasn’t in completely unfamiliar territory. 

Can you share a class room experience that was positive and made a big difference in your training?
During a Character and Emotion class with Serge Seiden last fall, I was in the middle of an ambitious character improv. I'd hoped to use a piece of music as a stimulus for an unforced, natural release of emotion; (read: cry). However, when it came time for said release to occur, I was so focused on getting the music to play etc. that I wasn't able to reach the objective I'd set for myself in the exercise. Speaking gently but firmly from the sidelines as he often did in class, Serge instructed someone else take over the playing of the music. He then asked if there were any other changes (props, lighting, set) that might help free me up enough to focus on reaching my scene objective. A few ideas occurred to me and I hesitantly made the requests. Once the adjustments had been made, I tried the piece again and was able to achieve my goal. Afterwards, Serge used the experience to remind our class of our personal responsibility in our success as actors. He reminded us of the need to take control of our work environment and circumstances and do whatever it was we needed to do to ensure that we reached whatever goal we had set for ourselves, whether it was a scene objective or simply getting into character before a performance. It was such a simple piece of advice to give, but it was a timely and powerful reminder that stayed with me through the remainder of the semester. That class was definitely one that I remember as a pivotal moment in my Studio training and that piece of advice continues to make a difference in my ongoing training. 

What keeps you coming back to train at the Acting Conservatory? 
At Studio, I know that I’ll be pushed further and harder than I think I can handle, that I’ll be forced to venture way out of my comfort zone, that I won’t be given the easy way out, but will likely be given the hardest, most challenging route instead because that is what will provide the greatest opportunities for growth and learning. Each time I enroll for a class at Studio, I do so knowing that I will be surrounded by students who are fully invested in their training and instructors who are just as committed to seeing their students succeed. The classes at Studio are not inexpensive, but the training and value-added benefits you receive for the investment (including, the end of semester showcases and 24/7 access to classroom space while enrolled) for me, makes them worth every dime. 



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