teaching philosophy

Growing up, I fell in love with great teachers - through them, I fell in love with teaching.

 

After two decades immersed in the highest levels of training & the opportunities that followed, I am proud to have gained a unique perspective on the Craft - and Career - demands of being a working actor.

I started Being an Actor in Columbus, Ohio, where I happened into a one-of-a-kind high school theater program.  Back then, "acting" was about learning your lines - how to say them with volume & conviction, then leap on stage & figure out how to survive on the fly - while learning to connect with our audience, through great story-telling.  Then it was big, bad New York, undergraduate acting at Marymount Manhattan College, semesters in London, then three years of intense conservatory training at NYU's prestigious MFA Acting program - and these were all extensions of what was, for me, an immersive, joyful early relationship with plays - an intense obsession with the craft required to scale the heights of Aeschylus, Aphra Behn, Moliere, Odets, Pinter, Chekhov, Stoppard & Shakespeare...

 

And my enthusiasm for craft - text analysis, voice & speech, movement, psychological gestures, games, improv, stage combat, monologues and all the rest, remains undiminished - the tools have been applied everywhere I've found success - notably the Broadway plays, where clicking with Martin McDonagh descended directly from a student production of Sean O'Casey - Florian Zeller's The Father felt natural because of my early interest in Pinter - and I certainly appealed to Tom Stoppard & Trevor Nunn, after falling in love at school with Tom Stoppard & Trevor Nunn!  In short, I owe my Career success almost entirely to the effort I put into Craft, as a student - and to the sheer joy of that initial, electrifying understanding I gained in those early years, doing great plays for a supportive community.

Now as a "seasoned pro" (15 years a proud SAG & Equity member), I've learned an entire wealth of new tools - whole new avenues of Craft - in the work itself, and as it relates to the Career side - specifics of TV auditions, for example (sitcoms aren't procedurals, on tape is not a producer session, etc) - how to develop a VO career (commercial, promo, & animated all different) - how to handle cold reads & callbacks - how to navigate going on as an understudy (unique challenge!) - how to connect with casting directors & agents - how to excel at your job once you have it (shooting TV isn't a Broadway rehearsal) - and oh yeah - how to memorize all those lines (just like the early days)...

I've also learned that, for me, teaching classes & coaching private clients on the foundations of Craft - along with how to engage more fully with their careers - fills me with joy and courage - because, of course, so many obstacles to Being an Actor remain the same, for ALL of us... Getting into our favorite school, getting a decent agent, being "seen", getting our first job, getting our third job, how to pay bills, join unions, make marriages work, raise children, transition careers, maintain a community... in short: knowing how to "make it" long term.  Change comes  fast - especially as actors, learning to navigate the discomfort of change itself becomes part of the training.

I have relished returning to the studio as a teacher & acting coach. I'm inspired by the daily commitment of aspiring artists, and increasingly emboldened to improve how we 'vets' can stay connected & healthy, in life and at work - with the exciting new online project, Acting (Actually), I hope to connect aspiring actors around the country to trained, experienced coaches in their area - and perhaps to better inter-connect our national community of American artists - for we are most certainly in this thing together - the odd, hilarious, frightening & exhilarating journey of Being Actors.

 

See you soon, friends. Thank you for your courage, and your voice.  -- BA