Philosophy of Teaching
To seek is to respond to a dream, and to dream is to be an artist. The theatre, to be successful, must be made up of dreams and dreamers. I dream in order to teach students the muscle for dreaming. The acting studio is a place to remind the student that they have dreams and their characters have dreams and in order for those dreams to live, attention must be paid.
I believe that students trip into their talent through the muscle of hope. The work in the studio is to teach students to give their hope space to grow, combating the natural fear that accompanies being an artist. This manifesting dualism between hope and fear creates the unique tensions inherent to artistic growth and synthesis. This dualism defines the artist.
Once the student trips into their talent they must immediately learn how to give it away. To give anything away requires the muscle of generosity. This muscle must be encouraged in each student. The longer we hold onto our imagination without sharing with an audience, the more likely it will embitter, spoil and deaden. The work in the studio ultimately comes down to two things; to discover and to share.
In order to build a space that encompasses this exploration, I build a studio of trust amongst my students. A space of permission to fail requires an admission of my own humanity and fallibility as a teacher. The space must always afford not knowing, even for the teacher. I guide with honed instinct and confidence, but not without a recognition of my own continuing search.
I believe connection between actors is a muscle to be cultivated. This muscle is often socialized out of us early in life or not encouraged to grow properly. Life can be hard and scary. But if we have the desire to perform then it is incumbent upon us to reignite our capacity for connection. Connection can be taught. Once learned, connection forms the foundation from which all the necessary skills in the performing arts can grow.
The best way to learn about the muscle of connection is to play. I build my work as a teacher around this principle. My ambition as a teacher is to remind people to play with great abandon and sensitivity in order to rediscover the pleasure of connection. I believe that through play we find connection and through connection we find more play and from this grows theatre.
How do I teach this? I give value to the innate curiosity in every person. I offer exercises that cultivate the muscle of curiosity for the actor. I strive to foster curiosity even when the student doesn’t know how or doesn’t want to. I loathe the impulse to seal up the space of not knowing. I abhor dogma and dictates in the acting studio. I teach by prompting the student to hold fast to a primary principle; to be curious.
Much of my teaching derives from the work of the clown, but extends to a variety of performance modes. The muscles that make a great clown help to grow us to all performance. For this reason I devote myself to a foundation of clown work wholeheartedly.
Exercises are designed to instill in the student a willingness to seek, to not know, and to adventure nonetheless. Often what awaits on the other side of that search is their talent. The process by which these discoveries are made constitute the building blocks of their craft.