13 - 17 years old
Our classes develop and foster confidence, focus, self awareness, creativity, sensory awareness, choice making, memory and sequencing skills, preparation, investigative skills, reading and comprehension skills, building the necessary tools for a competent actor who is capable of taking direction and has the stamina necessary while filming or taping.
There are five areas of concentration in our on-going curriculum: scene study, cold reading, interview technique, improvisation and character development. The students in the class are always required to play within their age range. Students are not allowed to critique other students, but are instead encouraged to comment positively on specifics within any actor's performance. As indicated in the class schedule we do not believe in mixing age groups. Our style of communication varies depending on the age group within the class.
We do not give "line readings". Our staff believes that we are facilitators for even our youngest of actors. It is our job here at our school to expose the actor to many different ways to get to the same place within their emotional subtext. The young actor must learn to make independent choices in order to effectively deal with the independence that is expected of them when on a film set. We encourage choice making by empowering the young actor.
We will often communicate in film terms in order to develop the on set vocabulary with the young actor, so they will understand directions given to them when filming.
Discussing characters, story line, emotional transitions, backstory and motivation encourages the young actor to look beyond the words to find the emotional subtext within the scene where the truth lies and an honest performance will follow. How we approach these concepts varies with each age group. It is most important to develop the instinct of the young actor, because often the young actor must simply get out of their head.
Cold reading and interview technique
Every class deals with some form of cold reading exercise, using scenes and monologues from television and film scripts. We approach this in many different ways in order to keep it interesting for those students who have been in our program for several sessions. All characters are age range appropriate. We discuss ways of dealing with many situations within the casting environment including nervousness, eye contact, the general interviews, use of space, choice making, full use of the body, creating the environment, relationships, script handling, easy memorization of dialogue through sequencing thoughts and the art of being yourself with the adults the young actor meets bringing the uniqueness of the the young actor's own personality and energy into the room.
Often times casting involves being a "typical kid" when it comes to young actors. Fortunately, young actors are beginning to gain recognition for being actors who know "how to act". Often in these days of national searches, many industry professionals forget that a trained young person can create a character that is outside of their natural personality. A young person of almost any age can develop a character equal to an adult actor, if only given the training and the opportunity.
This is the key to the young actor learning the art of active listening and character point of view. Approximately fifty percent of our curriculum is improvisationally oriented. Improvisation strengthens the young actor's ability to stay in character and make choices that will be useful when developing back stories, character traits and emotional spontaneity.
The "art of coaching" involves knowing how to approach these areas while considering the individual personality of the young person with whom you are working. It also involves assisting the young actor in keeping the performance fresh and natural even within a point of view that is different from the natural personality of the young person involved.