An Academy Interlude: The Strangeness of Williams

Stefanie Ogden with Chris Clowers: Final Class - Photo by G. Wade

Stefanie Ogden with Chris Clowers: Final Class – Photo by G. Wade

Something strange starts to happen at 7pm on Tuesday nights in North Hollywood. That’s when Antaeus Academy’s “Rebels and Yankees” class takes the stage. For fourteen weeks we’ll be exploring Lillian Hellman, Edward Albee, Stephen Adly Guirgis, but for now Tennessee Williams has taken over. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire  – some of the best-known works of American theatre – but also plays we don’t know well, or perhaps at all – that famed Williams newlywed comedy, A Period of Adjustment, anyone? Anyone? No?

Emily Bergl & Daniel Bess in Antaeus 2011 reading - Photo G. Wade

Emily Bergl & Daniel Bess in Antaeus 2011 reading – Photo G. Wade

But still, it’s Williams. And we know Williams. We know what he’s about at an essential level; we know how his characters will try and fail and try again, only to finally crumble beautifully and devastatingly. And here’s where it gets strange. Because from 7 to 11pm on Tuesday nights we know none of that. When these scenes go up and our actors start to explore, we are drawn in completely, and though we know better, we can’t help but think maybe, just maybe, this time Maggie will reach Brick. Maybe this time

J. Sloan & R. Mozo in Antaeus' 2011 Williams Birthday Party

John Sloan & Rebecca Mozo in Antaeus’ 2011 Williams Birthday Party

Laura’s gentleman caller will stay, and Blanche will find a lifeline to hold on to. And that’s the incredible thing about working in a class at Antaeus – old becomes new; familiar material morphs into uncharted territory. When our actors step on stage to do a scene that’s been analyzed down the letter, that’s been done hundreds of times before, or one that’s been immortalized on film by Hollywood legends– when they step on stage all that falls away and it becomes a first. You see a scene that you’ve never seen before – and that you’ll never see again – as you watch these actors feel there way through these haunting scenes and characters. Everything feels fresh and new because you are watching true discovery take place on stage.

The "serious" students of Classics: Chekhov/Ibsen 2012 - Photo by G. Wade

The “serious” students of Classics: Chekhov/Ibsen 2012 – Photo by G. Wade

Which leads to another singular quality in an Antaeus class: a wonderful and particularly unique openness and sense of shared experience. Every member of the class is fully engaged for every minute of it. The fact that we will all sit riveted for four hours on a Tuesday night says it all.  Whether on stage or watching from the audience, everyone is involved and invested in the process – always engaged, contributing, and learning from each other. That mutual investment creates an incredible trust that becomes a vital foundation for daring work: we know that we can be daring, that we can be bold, because everyone in that room has our backs. It certainly doesn’t hurt that our beloved moderator, Rob Nagle, is always there with a firm but gentle push to go further, go deeper into these iconic scenes that are suddenly brand new and make them our own. And so we try, and we fail, and we try again – and we don’t crumble. We grow. And it’s that lifeline of support and strength from Rob and from each other that draws us through into moments of brilliance.

And that’s just Williams…

Ogden_Stefanie 2013Academy member Stefanie Ogden shares her thoughts on our Classics: Rebs/Yanks class, which meets Tuesday evenings this Spring.  Lead Moderator: Rob Nagle.  For more information on the Antaeus Academy, please visit our website: www.antaeus.org/theacademy.html

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The Antaeus Academy: Origins & Curriculum

“The Academy is a door into a wonderful community of actors who truly, wholeheartedly love what they do, and I am honored to be a part of it.” -Chris Pine

ABOUT THE ACADEMY: By Jeanie Hackett, Artistic and Academy Director

At Antaeus, we believe mastering the acting challenges of great classics takes a lifetime. And we believe that wanting to take on these challenges is what makes for great acting. Here, we’re constantly putting young artists-in-training together with seasoned professionals — in the classroom, in readings, workshops and in full productions. So that skills, work ethics, inspiration are not just taught but ‘passed down.’

At Antaeus, you learn through study and by osmosis from some of the most talented and acclaimed actors and directors in the country, as you take part in a program that makes the utmost demands on your instrument: voice, body, intellect and talent. Antaeus is a company of artists who share your passion for great acting, great language, great human stories. The exhilaration of this lifelong collaboration—artist to text, artist to process, artist to artist – is what informs our productions and feeds our hunger for exploration and theatrical truth. It’s why an ongoing ensemble company can make theater that can thrill audiences– and maybe even make a difference in the world.

“Taking classes at Antaeus has been an incredibly illuminating and fruitful experience for me. The unique thing about the Academy that I feel is lacking in other courses in this town, or anywhere for that matter, is the inspirational way we are encouraged to look at the text and our characters. Antaeus does not produce “cookie-cutter” actors but inspires us all to think outside the box and really home in our unique selves, which then creates unique characters and a truly spectacular result, which is captivating theatre.” -Rebecca Mozo


ABOUT THE ACADEMY

Academy training programs are for established professionals and upcoming, early-career actors. Our ability to give students the opportunity to explore complex texts in front of an exciting array of esteemed actors, directors, and instructors makes us unique among Los Angeles acting schools. Created in part so that we could get to know the work of younger actors for company projects, actors in Academy workshops become a part of a community of artists who cultivate and nourish a passion for the greatest (scripted!) hits of all time.

Our astonishing roster of ongoing Academy guest moderators includes some of the finest actors, directors and acting teachers in the country: Annette Bening, Alfred Molina, Daniel Sullivan, Stefan Novinski, Kate Burton, Jonathan Lynn, Tom Moore, Jessica Kubzansky, Dakin Mattews, Brendon Fox, Art Manke, Bart DeLorenzo, Gordon Hunt, Austin Pendleton, Nike Doukas, Olympia Dukakis, Susan Sullivan, Michael Hackett, Barnet Kellman, Sheldon Epps, Andy Robinson, Stephen Wadsworth, Mark Rucker, Simon Levy, Jeanie Hackett, Susan Sullivan, Andrew Barnicle, Jeffrey Nordling, Arye Gross, Armin Shimerman, Jean Louis Rodrigue, Rowena Balos, Stephen Collins, Alan Mandell, Stephanie Shroyer, Blythe Danner and Gregory Itzin among many others are regular guests in our scene study and Shakespeare classes.

We believe that working on great material with a variety of experienced teachers is the best way to create dynamic, flexible actors who can excel, inspire, and amaze, whether working on stage, or in film or television. Actors coming to the classics for the first time have the opportunity to become familiar and comfortable with a wide range of dramatic literature and acting styles. Well-trained actors coming to us from graduate programs have the invaluable experience of testing their technique against real-world scenarios: multiple points-of-view, methods — and directors. Thus, the workshops provide both a safe and supportive atmosphere and one that mirrors the realities of the professional world where actors are called upon to adapt to many different styles and ways of working over the course of a career.

Most Academy workshops culminate in invited presentations of scene work for the company; in doing so we hope to foster a community of artists who share a common artistic language as well as a dedication to a company spirit of working together to create vibrant, moving, entertaining theater.

“The space, the people, the instructors made it so that I dared take my acting to higher levels and push myself to the limit. It made me feel like an actor again – not an auditioner, which is how LA sometimes makes you feel.” — Kristin Proctor Campbell

CLASSES OFFERED

CLASSICAL STYLES
A fourteen-week scene study class for actors from 18 to 35 years old. Each four-week segment focuses on a different aspect of classical theater, including modern classics. In the Fall, each month is divided into Shakespeare, the Greeks, and work on Shaw, Wilde and Coward. The Spring session covers Chekhov, Ibsen and Strindberg, American Classics, and Moliere and Restoration Comedy. Jeanie Hackett (actress, teacher, and author of The Actor’s Chekhov and Towards Mastery) is the principal moderator with a variety of guest moderators leading the class every other week.

Class Details & Requirements
Classical Styles meets Tuesday evenings from 7 -11 pm and culminates in a scene presentation open to Antaeus members and invited guests. Students are eligible for casting in Antaeus Company readings, projects, and productions, and the presentation is the primary way Company members get to know students and their work. 24 – 26 students participate in each session, students do at least three new scenes and two reworks over the three month period. Admission by audition only. We look for strong, classically trained actors, as well as younger actors who show genuine potential for meeting the challenges presented by classical texts.

“One of the best parts of Antaeus is that the class leads to a performance. You get the excitement of moving towards something.” –Ryan Spahn

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, SW features a different guest moderator every month.

Class Details & Requirements
Open to actors of all ages and levels of experience, the workout focuses on text analysis, monologue and scene work. Open to actors in of any age with the discipline and potential skills for classical work. This workshop meets Tuesdays from 2 – 5 pm for twelve (12) weeks. Actors new to the workshop commit to an initial 12-week session; returning actors may join the workshop on by the month. We are looking for actors of any age eager to learn or re-discover the skills required for dealing with Shakespeare’s text.

INTENSIVE IMMERSION

These workshops focus on a single playwright, style, or acting technique, are led by a master teacher and culminate in a presentation for Antaeus Company members and guests. In the past, these workshops have included Dakin Matthews’ Intensive Immersion in Shakespeare and John Achorn’s master class in Commedia dell’Arte. Future Intensive Immersions may include a workshop in myth and mask work led by Andy Robinson, a Russian Theater/Chekhov Immersion led by Jeanie Hackett, and a Language in Shakespeare workshop led by Gregory Itzin and/or Alfred Molina.

Class Details & Requirements
These two-weekend long workshops are open to actors with extensive experience in classical theater, and by audition to actors who have completed Classical Styles. Actors recommended by Company members will be accepted without audition. Workshop fees vary according to program and length.