Western’s Words: A look at WWU’s Theater Program

I’ve always loved Sanford Meisner’s
definition of acting, with is living truthfully
under imaginary circumstances. Our work really, in terms of
working with young student actors, is to open up and
reconnect the full body, mind, voice, spirit so
that they can have that full presence and
openness, vulnerability, truth of living in the moment. I will always choose
the courageous actor over the confident,
polished actor. The thing about courage, I
tell my students all the time, we’re asking ourselves to
do the impossible, which is to bring our most personal
and to live that truthfully in the public, to reveal
what’s inside the actor. So that vulnerability, again,
the grief, the joy, the lust, the jealousy, the anger,
the rage, the all that. The challenge for the actor
is to give of themselves, to, as a gift, as a gift
to the audience, to give of their deepest grief,
to give of their greatest joy, to give of their insert
experience, to the audience. Grotowski, who was a
very inspirational polish director for me in
my movement work, said that the role should
be like a scalpel that slices the actor open. I never think of an acting class
as happening in a classroom. It’s in a laboratory. And we talk a lot
about that, and this comes, again, Grotowski
calls his theater The Polish Laboratory Theatre, in that
we’re literally in there experimenting. We get ideas, we
have hypotheses, and then we do tests,
we do exercise. What brought me
here and what’s kept me here is my colleagues
and the students. From my interview day, when I
met Maureen O’Reilly and Jim Lortz, the two
professors who created the foundation of
our acting program, and decided we need to add to
this by bringing in a movement specialist, and were so
open and the best mentors I could ever ask for. And we worked our tails off
those first couple years here building this
curriculum that we now have in place in our acting
program for the last five years, which we’re now
seeing the results with lots of success of our students. Every night, you have to find
within yourself the courage to leap and make
an active choice. And to fail, and to
get information back, and do that experiment again,
get the information back, take another, take another. So for the actor, hopefully
when they leave here after four years, they
walk into rehearsal ready to try anything. And those are the kind
of artists that I’m interested in working with. Those kind of rigorous, hungry,
oftentimes first-generation students. Again it goes back to
the drive and the passion of our students, and that,
and we talk about this all the time, we don’t
care about talent. There’s nothing you
can do about talent. As David Mamet, the
great playwright says, talent is God-given. Forget about it. There’s nothing you
can do about it. What you can do is focus
on your work ethic, and that’s something
that we talk about daily in this program. The students who take
the training, who take the techniques, and are
in that studio doing the work, they continue through
the acting program, and then when they leave
here, they’re successful. SPEAKER 2: Awesome. Awesome. That’s great. RICH BROWN: Yeah, they
get to live their dream. Few people do. SPEAKER 2: Thank you.

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