14 Lines In One Breath???

“When forty winters have besieged thy brow

And dug deep trenches in thy beauty’s field…”

Oh, I’m sorry everyone!  I was just working on my sonnet. 😉  It is so much fun playing around with the sounds and the pauses and the iambic pentameter!  And yes…the class…oh my goodness the CLASS!  I am way in over my head in this talented group of people, but I had so much fun and I absolutely love every minute of it!

First of all, Liz Swain is amazing!  She has so much knowledge that she is waiting to share and so many fun stories that I could sit and listen to her for hours.  She drew all of us into the group, regardless of our previous Shakespeare or theatre experience and met us right where we are.  The people is this class come from a vast majority of places and backgrounds and she matches her teaching style to each of us, praising our successes and helping us pinpoint our biggest points for improvement.  I was really thankful for this since I try to remember too many things at once when I act.  I let my brain run away with me and fall head over heels…well, at least tie my tongue in knots.  And my class mates are the best!  I got really nervous going into the evening, I always do in acting classes, but they welcomed me in and encouraged me as I fumbled along in my ignorance of this bright new world opening up before me.

We ran through some basic Shakespearean writing tools (well basic to people who are more familiar with Shakespeare) and methods of speaking first.  How many of these do you know?  No cheating…just right off the top of your head:  scansion, spondee, caesurae, elision, onomatopoeia and dactyl.  You think I’m making these up…but no.  How many did you get?  Well I knew only one, but now I know them all!  Hurrah for handouts!

When we got up to begin our sonnets, I took one look at my classmates and got so flurried I think I said the whole sonnet in one breath.  No pauses, no emotion, nothing.  Liz patiently slowed me down and pointed out that the sonnet is divided into fourteen lines for a reason (wow! He did that on purpose?) and let me go back over the piece with some technical ideas in mind.  I was blown away by how much more relaxed I felt and how I was able to really focus on what I was saying, an important detail when working with Shakespeare.  Even when I was sitting back just watching the other actors I was able to glean so much helpful information from their artistic choices and thoughtful conversation.  I think I could learn in this class by just sitting in the room and inhaling all the talent there.

So now, armed with my notes, I prepare for week two of sonnets.  I am slowing myself down.  It’s hard, but it does make breathing and not passing out much easier.  I am also on the hunt for a monologue.  The problem is there are just SO many from which to choose!  Which way should I go?  Any suggestions?

–Hanna Mitchell


Academy Spotlight: Elizabeth Zerebko

Hello hello!

I am Lizzie Zerebko, and I am currently taking the American Classics at Antaeus under Rob Nagle.

After being born and raised in the Pasadena area, I went on to study Theatre at USC. I had a brief stint in London while studying at BADA (British American Drama Academy), which reinforced my love for classical theatre- I’ve never looked back. After graduating in 2010, I worked at A Noise Within as an intern and took classes there for nearly a year.

Certainly my favorite post-graduation project has been “Shakespearience” at the Alex Theatre, a field trip that serves as an introduction to the wonders of Shakespeare. The audiences (1,000+ students each time) are unlike any other- they allow themselves to feel moved by the material, and have no problem verbally expressing it! Their unique energy is overwhelming at times, but ultimately very rewarding. When I was a wee freshman in high school I saw this show myself, and it is a wonderful opportunity to give back. I can’t wait to perform again this coming March. (www.theatricaleducationgroup.com).

I could, of course, tell you that I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be a performer since I was ten months old, yadda, yadda. BUT- what I remember most as the true change in the way I viewed theatre was a daytime student matinee at Pasadena Playhouse’s production of PRIVATE LIVES, directed by Art Manke. The overwhelming beauty, intriguing style, and sublime execution have colored my pursuits through the years, both in acting and directing.

It was from that performance, I believe, that I garnered my conviction that theatre should be beautiful… somewhere at its heart should be the search for and attainment of beauty, or the failure thereof.

My goal is to talk to Art Manke one day and just let him know what a great influence that particular show has had on my development. I hope that I am bound to run into him at some point, as Facebook tells me we have far too many mutual friends. Hopefully I will be able to give him that compliment and validation- after all, as theatre artists isn’t it our mission to affect the individual with human truth for days or years to come?

What brought you to Antaeus?

With this developing belief and the resulting inclination toward the classics, how could I not be drawn to Antaeus? In fact, I had been looking at the classes for years before I was able to audition, even while I was still at school. The welcome I have experienced this fall, paired with the dedication and talent of those I know involved, tells me that I have come to the right place.

My time with the American Classics has been wonderful. I know that I speak for many when I say that the class gives us an outlet where we can be truly excited and challenged by what we are working on. Rob has been astoundingly flexible and supportive, and has let each of us form our personal class journey to fit our needs. As long as the pieces fall within the guidelines of O’Neill, Williams, and Miller, we have been able to take on whatever material we are drawn to- whether a traditional two-person scene, a monologue, or a female version of Death of a Salesman featuring a Wilhelmina Loman. Our guest moderators have been very informative as well, bringing fresh eyes and new perspectives to make even more well rounded scenes.

The level of talent in the student group is truly apparent in the work. I am constantly impressed, as their honesty and willingness have created some of the best theatre I have seen in a long time. Everyone’s positive attitudes also create a nice support system that allows for more risks, regardless of the “success”.

I can walk away from this fall’s class knowing that I have reached for things that have scared me, highly triumphant with some…and no so much with others. I’ve been reminded of the immense detail and continuous thought that separates a good performance from a great one. I’ve remembered my personal weaknesses and my ticks and tried to work through them. AND, in the grander scheme of theatre scholarship, I am walking away with a wonderful comprehensive introduction to three distinct American playwrights, each with their own distinct voice that I had never been able to hear before. I am thrilled. I can’t wait for some High Comedy in the spring.

I will leave you with my favorite quote, shown to me by a dear friend and mentor:

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

-Louisa May Alcott


Thank you. Any and all of my information can be found on my website, at http://www.zerebko.com.

Academy Spotlight: Marjo-Riikka Makela

Tell us about yourself (where you’re from, maybe where you studied, how long you’ve been in LA, your favorite credits):
I’ve been to Los Angeles for about 3 years now. I’m originally from Finland. In my early twenties, I worked as a professional actress in a big repertory theater company in Finland. I had the wonderful opportunity to perform many lead classical theater roles, and also have fun with completely different, more modern characters, such as Peppi Longstocking. Even though it was a very wonderful experience to work on a repertory company, doing 3 shows simultaneously and having a monthly paycheck from the theater, I felt that I needed to learn more and grow as an actor. Working can at times be very result oriented and there is not always much room for exploration or “taking risks” which is a necessity for any artist in order to grow. With only a little amount of actor training at that point, I was simply doing it all by instinct (and probably pure good luck!) so after working non-stop for a couple of  years, I got worried that I would start repeating myself or developing mannerisms and therefore was hungry for learning new ways and gaining deeper understanding of the actors process and character transformation. I decided to expand my artist journey to study acting and directing in Denmark, Russia and U.S.A. I trained at the Russian Academy of Dramatic Arts (GITIS) and also have an MFA in Acting from CSULB.  Here in USA some of my favorite roles include Medea in direction of David Bridel, Yelena in Uncle Vanya at the Classic Stage Company’s summer series in NYC,  and my work with Sarah Kane and Andrei Malaev-Babel at the Stanislavsky Theatre Studio in Washington DC. My directing credits include Shakespeare, Chekhov, Schiller, and devised work.Tell us why you love acting or what made you choose it as your profession, etc. I feel that acting chose me. First it was a hobby for me, as I already had two other professions (I had prior degrees both as an equestrian trainer and gymnastic on horse, and as a psychiatric nurse) but very quickly theater took over all my time completely and there was no point of returning or doubting since then. I knew I had a whole new life in front of me right at my very first theater rehearsal, and at the opening night of my very first play, I knew I had arrived home. I believe that acting is a profession of calling. I wish to be serving something greater than myself, working together with the ensemble to tell a story of another human soul, and this way striving to expand empathy in the world. As one of my student’s so well put it: “Actors are professional human beings!” I feel so very blessed to be able to practice this art form and to PLAY all day long! What keeps us young is inspiration, and I am allowed to bath in it daily! Antaeus is a wonderful place for any artist to grow and share this love for theater!

What brought you to Antaeus?
I was so very blessed to meet Liz Swain via our mutual Michael Chekhov acting technique teacher friend. We spoke about the art of acting and of course Shakespeare all night, and I immediately knew that I wanted to deepen my understanding of Shakespeare with her! She is truly  a world class teacher! I have been very impressed by Antaeus as a company. The high level of training and talent at Antaeus is undeniable!What do you want to gain from the class?  Do you have a specific “problem” on which you want to focus?

I really wanted to embrace the whole experience with “new-born eyes (and ears!). Even though I have a lot of experience (and technique) as an actor, I’m a complete beginner in my Shakespeare in English. The images are so much more vivid and beautiful and the text works me in a completely different way than it did in any foreign translations I worked earlier in my career.  Liz has opened up a whole new universe to me!

What do you think of the class so far?  Absolutely in love with Liz and the class!

What is your experience with classical theater?  Has class reinforced/changed what you previously thought, or have you learned new things, etc? Yes reinforced many things and opened new doors to language!
Tell us a fun fact about you or highlight one of your unusual special skills. I don’t know if I have any special skills, but I speak fluent Finnish and can stand on a horse while it’s galloping! ;o)
Anything new and exciting going on in your life? (doesn’t have to be acting related, can be an engagement, upcoming trip, new dog, etc.) My acting studio has a little scene study showcase coming up. We call the evening: Tennessee Williams-Cafe, and I’m very excited for the wonderful actors in it! Also, I just got invited to direct a production in Brazil and I’m exited for the trip!

Academy Spotlight: Tro Shaw

Tell us about yourself (where you’re from, maybe where you studied, how long you’ve been in LA, your favorite credits).
I am a native Berkeley girl, raised by a couple of social hippies in the amazing bay area.  I had a burning passion to study acting from a very young age, and I ended up at Carnegie Mellon University, where I earned my BFA in Acting.  I moved out to New York in June, 2008 and had the great good fortune to be cast as Anybodys in the Broadway revival of “West Side Story” about 3 months into my living in New York.  Being a part of that show changed my life, and it was absolutely thrilling and challenging and very fulfilling.   I had a bit of difficulty adapting to the hussle and rush of the New York lifestyle, and not too long after the end of my contract I came home to Berkeley and gave myself a break.  I drove down to LA to visit a few friends in October, 2010 and I sorta forgot to leave.  Here I am a year later, and I absolutely love it here!  I’ve had an opportunity to direct, produce, act, sing, dance, and even take classes again.  Its been a wonderfully freeing experience.

Tro Shaw

Tell us why you love acting or what made you choose it as your profession, etc.

When I was 4 yrs old, my aunt was stage managing with Berkeley Shakes (now Cal Shakes).  They were rehearsing a production of “Romeo & Juliet” and the director wanted street urchins to be a part of the opening fight scene.  I actually got to stand down center, as a sword fight broke out over my head, and scream out, “Mama, mama!!!”.  My acting was so convincing that my own mother, who was reading in the back of the house, jumped up and ran to me, distressed.  I apparently said, “Mom, I was just acting!” She says that was the beginning of my love for theater, but all I know is that its a passion I’ve had for as long as I can remember.
I decided to make it my career when I saw a production of “Chicago” around my 13th birthday, and was moved by the passion and skill of the two main women.  It made me want to work at my own craft in order to have the flexibility to do any kind of role; singing, dancing, shakespeare, anything.What brought you to Antaeus?}
When I first arrived in LA, I couch-surfed a bit, and ended up more than once on the Joanna Strapp’s couch.  She and I had been friends at Carnegie Mellon, and she has always been an extremely generous person.  She told me about the Anteaus, and how much she enjoyed being surrounded by so many passionate artists.  I also spoke with my aunt, who has always been like a mentor to me in the arts, and she spoke very highly of Anteaus’ work and their overall reputation.  So I decided to audition, and I’m so glad I did.

What do you want to gain from the class?  Do you have a specific “problem” on which you want to focus?

My main goal with taking this class is to free myself from self-imposed limitations.  When you’re working in a college conservatory program, its easy to feel that you are limited by your weaknesses, and by your classmates’ strengths.  For example, I always felt like I wasn’t the most emotionally free actress, while a couple other girls in my class were extremely emotionally free.  I also didn’t feel very brave in school, so I am finding myself overcoming some of that in this class.

What do you think of the class so far?
Geoffrey Wade is an amazingly supportive and nurturing teacher.  He finds a way to balance the two components of teaching a class like this (acting coaching and scene directing) with such a delicate and refined skill.  Its lovely to watch him work with others, and thrilling to get up yourself and work with him.  I also feel so lucky to be in a class with people from so many different backgrounds and experiences.  Each actor has a unique strength and struggle, and it makes for a lot of exciting work every time we meet.

Tro in class with Guest Moderator, Andy Robinson

What is your experience with classical theater?  Has class reinforced/changed what you previously thought, or have you learned new things, etc?

I was surrounded by shakespeare from a very young age, and even in elementary school I felt as though the text made sense to me in a way that was somewhat innate.  During my training at Carnegie Mellon I was able to work in great detail on many classical scenes from Greeks to Shakespeare to Checkov to Ibsen to Miller to Williams.  I had the opportunity to play Natasha in a CMU production of “The Three Sisters” with guest director, Vladimir Mirodan, from The Drama Centre in London.  This class has definitely reinforced a lot of my conservatory training, and its been a great reminder to me of some key things, like the importance of giving all you have to your scene partner in order to make something happen between the two of you.  The most successful scenes so far have been when both actors were totally invested in each other and truly responding to what the other actor was giving them.Tell us a fun fact about you or highlight one of your unusual special skills.

I was a gymnast from age 4-12, and I can still do a mean back flip.  Also an aerial (no-handed cartwheel).

Anything new and exciting going on in your life? (doesn’t have to be acting related, can be an engagement, upcoming trip, new dog, etc.)

I just celebrated my one year anniversary with LA and also with my boyfriend, who I met two weeks after I got here.  I couldn’t be happier!Tro Shaw is currently in the Greeks/Shakespeare Classics Class. Auditions for our Spring Semester of Classes take place on January 13th and 14th. Email academy@antaeus.org for more info.

The Antaeus Academy announces its Spring 2011 Session auditions January 15th and 16th

By appointment only:  please email headshot/resume and cover letter to academy@antaeus.org to schedule your audition.

Joceyln Towne and Antonio Jaramillo

The Antaeus Academy focuses on all aspects of classical theater skills, technique and experience. From basic to advanced levels, classes are taught by an ev er-changing roster of some of the finest actors, directors and acting teachers in the country. Experienced actors reinvigorate and reconnect with their craft. Early-career artists learn from seasoned professionals in classes, readings, workshops and productions.  All are encouraged to audition:  previous classical theater training not required.

Classical Styles

Scene work from the classics, focusing on:
Chekhov/Strindberg/Ibsen, American Classics, and Restoration

A series of master classes in classical scene work moderated by various Antaeus members, as well as other acclaimed professional directors and actors. The workshop culminates in a presentation of scene work for Antaeus Company members and invited guests.

Past moderators include: Annette Bening, Gil Cates, Stephen Collins, Brian Cox, Bart DeLorenzo, Nike Doukas, Olympia Dukakis, Sheldon Epps, Brendon Fox, Arye Gross, Michael Hackett, Gregory Itzin, Jessica Kubzansky, Jonathan Lynn, Dakin Matthews, Alfred Molina, Jeffrey Nordling, Austin Pendleton, Diane Rodriguez, Armin Shimerman, Stephanie Shroyer, French Stewart, Elizabeth Swain, & Stephen Wadsworth.

Tuesdays, 7 – 11pm beginning February 8th
Class fee: $600 for 14 week session, $550 early bird discount.
Class size: 24 – 26 ~ Open to actors age 18 – 35

CS Fundamentals

Scene work from the classics, focusing on:
Shakespeare, The Greeks

Our newest class offering, designed to help upcoming professional actors gain experience and skills in performing the classics.  Through text analysis, monologue and scene work , study will focus intensively on two styles/authors per session, allowing actors intensive exploration in the fundamentals of classical theater.

Tuesdays, 7 – 11pm beginning February 1st
Class fee: $600 for 12 week session, $550 early bird discount.
Class size: 24 – 26 ~ Open to actors age 18 – 35

Shakespeare Workout

Experience the challenges and rewards of playing  Shakespeare in sessions moderated by a rotating group of L.A.’s top actors, directors and acting teachers.

An ongoing, year-round program, Shakespeare Workout features a different guest moderator every month. The workout covers an array of all things Shakespeare: text analysis, poetry and prose, historical study, vocal and physical technique; featuring monologue and scene work throughout. Actors new to the workshop commit to an initial 12-week session.

Tuesdays, 1:30 – 5pm, beginning February 1st
Class fee:  $570 for initial 12 week session, $500 early bird discount.

Class size: 16 – 20 actors per class ~ Open to actors of all ages

For more information, please visit our website:  http://antaeus.org/theacademy.html

Allan Miller Guest Moderates in May

We are so thrilled that Allan is teaching this May Interlude, in our time slot for the Shakespeare Workout.

Allan’s workshop runs May 4th-25th (Tuesdays, 2-5pm at Antaeus in North Hollywood).

From Allan:

“Every marvelous piano player knows you don’t just go out and play concertos, you have to practice fingering, chord structures, arpeggios, dynamics, etc. Every terrific basketball player knows you don’t just go out and play games, you practice dribbling, jump shots, lay-ups, etc.  For any creative actor there are five basic areas of work: text, character, situation, interpretation, and the actor’s habits. This class will focus on the process of practice.

Please join me for my May workshop: What & How to Rehearse—in any medium, from first readings and auditions to full production. We will work on cold readings, monologues, scenes, even songs.”

ALLAN MILLER is an actor, director, teacher and writer. He has acted in over two hundred films and television productions, and dozens of plays.  He recently appeared on Broadway in BROOKLYN BOY by Donald Margulies and THE SUNSHINE BOYS in Los Angeles. Mr. Miller was artistic director of the Back Alley Theatre for ten years, for which he received the LADCC Margaret Hartford Award for Distinguished Achievement. Other directing credits include theRoundabout Theatre, the Berkshire Theatre Festival, the Westport Playhouse, the Odyssey Theatre, International City Theatre, and Actors Studio West.  He teaches acting privately and at colleges and professional schools, including Circle in the Square, The Actors Studio, Yale School of Drama, New York University’s MFA professional program, the Focus Theatre in Dublin, and the International Actors group in Rome. His work as a master teacher is featured in the compilation book, A New Generation of Acting Teachers, published by Penguin. He is the author of “A Passion for Acting: Exploring the Creative Process” now in its third printing, and a DVD “The Craft of Acting: Auditioning.”  He is the author of “A Passion For Acting” and a DVD, “Auditioning.”  He wrote the play The Fox, which has been widely produced both nationally and internationally.  Mr. Miller is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has served on the Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild, and has been a panelist for the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department and the California Arts Council. He studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, Uta Hagen at HB Studio, and Erwin Piscator at the Dramatic Workshop.

For more information, contact cindy@antaeus.org

An Academy Salute to Noël Coward – Huzzah!

Last year A2, The Antaeus Academy,  presented a wonderful weekend celebrating Noël Coward thanks to the generous grant awarded by  The Noël Coward Society .  The Young Idea played to audiences of all ages and immersed A2 into the world of “The Master.”  This year, we had the great honor to find out about An Academy Salute to Noël Coward before tickets were sold out.

Yes, Noël Coward still sells out the houses.  Stephen Fry hosting the whole evening didn’t hurt, either.

 Star Quality: The World of Noël Coward was an extensive collection of well-known photographs and unique souvenirs: night slippers embroidered with Noël Coward across them, and a green carnation from an opening night, for instance.  Probably the most extraordinary items were found directly on the walls- they showed home movies from the late 20’s and 30’s of Coward’s stage plays.  This was obviously well before union regulations of such things!  I stood for about five minutes with a friendly gent as we tried to guess which play we were watching.

I met a few members of The Noël Coward Society, lead a few of the Antaeus group to our seats (wonderfully reserved by the West Coast Liason of The NCS and all-around wonderful friend, Kathy Williams).  Then–Stephen Fry!  What an amazing host.  He set a beautiful tone of happiness at the night ahead.  He also took us down a reverent and funny path, with quips like: “I discovered him [Coward] when I was about ten in the attic.”  There were too many of those funny lines for me to remember, but they were incredibly entertaining.

Then L.A. Theatre Works presented two short Coward pieces directed by Antaeus regular Brendon Fox: Design For Rehearsing (a sketch based on the Lunts’ inability to leave their on-stage life on the stage, and Age Cannot Wither.  As is LATW’s niche, they recorded the performances for the radio and posterity, complete with foley sound effects.  Stephen Fry offered the inside track, though; he told the audience to laugh hysterically at an in appropriate place and we can secure posterity in this recording for the rest of our lives.  (“Hey, Mom!  That’s my obnoxious laugh!”)

A special treat for the Coward crowd — Juliet Mills, goddaughter of Coward and daughter of Coward collaborator John Mills.  Her father was the first to call Coward “The Master”.  It turns out that Juliet’s screen debut was as a baby in In Which We Serve, which received waves of approval and laughter from the audience.  You may also know her sister, Hayley Mills.

Of course the shows were great fun, as they always are, in no short way because of Antaeus Company member Susan SullivanJoBeth Williams and Juliet Mills’ performances.

Then a rare treat: a filmed interview between Stephen Fry and Ronald Neame, who will turn 100 next week.  It was incredibly fun, and revealed some new stories that had the audience rolling.  Neame explained how David Lean, known for his directing, was also in the wardrobe department.

FRY: “Oh, really?  He was in wardro-”

NEAME: “Fired.”

FRY: (stifling a laugh without knowing the punch line) “Oh?”

NEAME: “Wrong trousers.”

I have no idea why that was so funny to us at the time, but all of us in the audience just about died.

And I hope the Academy shows that video again, because Stephen Fry did the most amazing impersonation of Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter, a tragically optimistic story in the history of tragic stories.

Then we settled in for the main attraction: a restored film of  Calvacade.  When produced on-stage, Noël Coward directed 400 actors! Plus the main characters alone total at least twenty.  No wonder no one can recall seeing the play in an age where five characters cost a theater too much to produce; not Antaeus though-see our website for more details on our ensemble-driven productions.

The movie was just fascinating. As a history nerd, I completely indulged in how major historical events and technological advances changed people’s ways of life, and changed people.  I marveled once again at how  relevant Coward’s material is.  For all the foils, victories and defeats of the British Empire, America could stand to learn from the past.  One line stands out from the entire movie, when the father consoles his wife about his going to the Boer Wars: “We have to have wars now and then to prove we’re the top dog.”

Altogether, a wonderful evening, both entertaining and emotionally devastating during the movie.  I never spoke to so many strangers in one evening before that night; it was sure nice to be around friendly people just looking to have a fun time!

This exhibit will be closed by the time you read this blog post, but The Young Idea returns this summer as part of ClassicsFest 2010!  Stay tuned.

More about The Young Idea can be found by following the blog tags attached to this article.

Cindy Marie Jenkins was a producer on the 2009 weekend The Young Idea and recently directed A2 in their March late-night.