Teaching Philosophy

My passion and joy is engaging the next generation of Actor/Creator. My entire adult life, I have made a living by both creating and performing live theatre and teaching others to create and perform live theatre. I believe myself a very fitting match with a - Graduate theatre training/Professional Repertory - philosophy. This symbiotic approach where both elements gain from each other is a wonderful balance. A balance that I have tried to achieve in my: life / work, teaching / learning, technique/ spontaneity. Bringing young actors to find the same balance is what I pride my self on. Training the Actor/Creator in fully realizing their own authenticity, generating options, and devising new work, balanced with a joy of the journey, an outrageous sense of play and a fearlessness of the ridiculous. This must be done holistically. Each student seen as a whole individual with a past, present and future as well as a member of the communities of their class, the university, the theatre, and beyond. Each student's path found in conference between apprentice and professional, student and faculty, actor and ensemble, responsible individual and community, actor and self.

I believe the shape tells stories in ways no other language can. The actor's body is not only one of their primary instrument in creating shape, it is the home of their very being. Designing and implementing a physical progression and curriculum needs to be holistic, finding balance between strength and flexibility, articulation and lyricism, expression and interpretation, metaphor and naturalism. Playing with this balance is learned and becomes an ongoing maintenance of ones instrument and ones being. The genres and levels of stylization: Characterization, Clown, Realism, Commedia become so much more accessible because the foundation is always improving. I believe this can be done while nurturing and maintaining a terrain of creativity, addressing skills of physicality, spontaneity, expression, observation, empathy, metaphor, and doing it with joy in the heart. The paradox (and good theatre is full of it) is that it is perhaps that very joy that allows the strongest empathy to the darkest corners of the human condition. We who work in the theatre must embrace that empathy and in turn the theatre we make will kindle it in others.

Education is not the filling of a vessel with information but a nurturing of an ever flexible and singular vessel. Ultimately the goal is not that the student comes to know what the instructor knows, rather, that the student becomes individually equipped with the cognitive, physical and instinctual capacities to continue the investigation. The very sensation of flexing these capacities allows a personal empowerment that only the individual can grant to her or himself. This empowerment is not an arrogance, it is in fact a humbling ability to say "I don't know", followed by a curiosity, will and tools to find solutions. A metaphor that aptly portrays my role in this process is to see me in the class holding a flashlight. I point the light at a very specific aspect or principal within the curriculum, and the community of the class looks and responds both physically and verbally to what the light is focused on. What is illuminated when we look from afar elicits certain reactions, movements meanings but when the flashlight zooms in will elicit entirely new perspectives. We take the time to discern what exactly we do see, how it makes us move and how that might change its meaning. In short we focus and play out an investigation rather than create an exposé to be memorized. In so doing we re-ignite the joy of the process and it becomes an essential part of the learning. It's a classic case of being given a fish or learning how to fish.

The confidence that comes from successfully and continually finding solutions and the fact that investigating solutions puts us in a state of familiarity rather than angst, sets the physical/psychological stage, that an actor needs in order to survive in the professional world.

Specifically to movement training, no body is the same and all body types are welcome. The training of each individual and of those bodies is a responsibility that I take very much to heart. The key to unlocking the potential of each of those individuals must come from the student themselves. Earning the trust to open themselves to develop, change and grow is something I nurture in the community. Making the body a full partner in the theatrical world starts in the spine, the central, supporting structure of a human being. It is an intimate and visceral voyage to be able to play with ones own spine. The actor's physicality is not merely mimicking what the text is saying, but becomes a complementary voice giving the audience a counterpoint and enrichment of information. Accomplishing this requires actors who actually explore the structure, rhythm, emotion and meaning of shape. In this work the human spine is the manifest thermometer of a character's soul. This is not some kind of esoteric mumbo jumbo, but rather an ongoing physical inquest found via voracious, honest and spontaneous play, a virtuoso articulation of the instrument and conscious cataloging of sensation. Not unlike learning poetry in a foreign language. (a new vocabulary at the service of outrageous play).