Thursday, 3 September 2015

Building Your Actor’s Toolkit at Theatre Ontario’s Summer Theatre Intensive

by Gregory Carruthers

First in a series of posts from participants at this year’s Summer Theatre Intensive

Acting was an early love of mine. Once I finished graduate studies, however, and launched into my chosen profession, I had to put acting aside. After some decades in my work, a few years ago my professional responsibilities started to lighten somewhat. I found myself being drawn once again back into acting. I am, therefore, merely a novice and in need of lots of good instruction and coaching.

"Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Acting"
at the 2015 Theatre Ontario Summer Theatre Intensive.
(Gregory Carruthers is the second from the left.)
I certainly found all I was looking for in Tom Diamond's course "Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Acting" at the Theatre Ontario Summer Theatre Intensive. From the very beginning I knew I was in the presence of someone who was accomplished in what he was doing—he knew what he was talking about. Tom has the skills and the wisdom that come from personal experience. He is also an engaging and effective teacher. Even though the others in the course had more acting experience than myself, I never felt from him—or from them—that I was out of place. Quite the opposite, in fact. The environment Tom established was a safe place in which I could trust. It was easy, therefore, for me to take the risks I needed to take to get grounded in what acting was all about and to begin to grow as an actor.

The title of Tom's course is not an exaggeration. I really did learn what I always wanted to know about acting. Everything from the daily warm-up acting exercises to the final scene work was carefully constructed to that end. Tom's explanations and presentations always clear, practical, accessible and effective. His definition of acting (and I'll let you take his course to find out what that is!) clarified much for me.

How to make a personal connection with the character I would be playing was one of the most helpful tools in "the toolkit" (to use his term) that I got out of the course. Tom's course was full of practical exercises and skills to give you the tools you need to be an effective actor. Another helpful skill I began to experience is the correct relation between the actor's intention and his words and emotions. Directly connected with this skill is another one: what does it mean for an actor to listen? Improvisation—structured for a specific purpose—is one of the central and most effective exercises we did. I benefited from it greatly.

Equally practical and effective were his instructions and exercises on how to prepare a monologue, how to make an entrance on stage, and how to interpret a script.

Because the class was small—only 11 of us—each of us received lots of personal coaching from Tom. Tom has the intuition of an experienced physician on how to make a quick and accurate diagnosis, and then what remedy to provide. I learned as much from his coaching of others as I did from his coaching of myself. He affirmed with insight what I was doing well, and with equal insight what I need to do to be a more effective actor. For me that especially means not allowing my acting to collapse into giving information - "no one comes to the theatre to get information." What I need to do is to act in the here and now, in the lived moment of what I'm all about on stage. Tom gave me the means - the tools - to begin to do that better.

I am deeply grateful and privileged to have benefited from Tom's practical skill, talent and insightful experience. If you have a desire to learn everything you always wanted to know about acting, I cannot imagine you could find a better course.

Next time: We check-in on the Introduction to Directing course

Related reading:

No comments:

Post a comment