Not all courses are offered every session. Students receive written evaluations for most courses. College credit is offered for ten-week courses only. Please check the schedule to find out which courses are being offered in the current session.
Please Note: Students should register for the courses they believe are the best fit based on the criteria explained in the corresponding course descriptions. Classroom instructors will make recommendations about all returning students’ placement. However, final decisions regarding admission and placement will be made by the Studio A.C.T. Program Director. Studio A.C.T. assumes no responsibility for personal injuries that occur as the result of course work or classroom activity. By registering for a course, students warrant that they are healthy enough for an experiential academic experience that may be psychologically, physically, or emotionally challenging.
This course enlarges the student’s understanding of “performance” in a playful, encouraging, collaborative atmosphere. Introduction to Acting is designed to offer students a dynamic, engaging introduction to theater training. It is specifically intended for those who've never studied acting before, or want to get back in touch with their creative impulses. Students will learn techniques for improving their self-confidence in a safe, playful environment through the exploration of basic acting principles. In fun and engaging exercises, students will work on overcoming stage-fright, improving focus and concentration, connecting with a others through trust games and active listening, understanding “stage presence,” and opening their imaginations to playing characters. Because actor training is also life training, students can expect to find new, deeper connections to others and their own creativity, unlocking profound layers of empathy through character exploration. Thus, particular emphasis will be given to expanding the imagination, supporting classmates’ growth, and collaborating effectively. Students will learn transferable skills in this and in all Studio A.C.T. courses. No significant memorization will be required. However, students may be asked to prepare simple assignments outside of class. Students will be expected to attend all scheduled classes and to actively participate in games and exercises. Don’t worry – if you’re shy and need a little help emerging from your shell, or believe you’re “not that creative,” then this is the course for you. It is recommended that students who register for Introduction to Acting also register for No Fear Improv. Students who’ve already passed more advanced Studio A.C.T. courses are encouraged to take Introduction to Acting for a fresh perspective on their training. Eight Classes
Act I, II, III, and IV are four different courses designed to be taken successively. Students are not guaranteed admission into each successive level and are often encouraged to repeat levels before advancing. The courses comprising the Studio A.C.T. Acting Sequence feature content derived from the most prevalent method of actor training, the Russian System. Prospective students are strongly advised to research the teachings of Constantin Stanislavski and Stella Adler before registering. The curriculum includes an extensive investigation of various techniques such as concentration, communion, emotion memory, and public solitude. Students will also ascertain a practical understanding of terms such as action, objective, tactic, obstacle, conflict, intention, motivation, and “beat.” Techniques and terms commonly associated with actor training and used specifically within the idiom of the Russian system will be fully explained. It is recommended that all students, even those with prior training, enroll in Act I so that they achieve the deepest possible understanding of the essential work.
You should register for Act I if you took an acting class many years ago and are seeking a low-impact reentry to actor training. You are also welcome to register for Act I if you’ve successfully passed Introduction to Acting. Some minimal previous experience with actor training is required. Course content includes some memorization and students may be asked to prepare assignments outside of class. Students should also expect to actively participate in games and exercises. Particular emphasis will be given to ensemble-building, cultivating personal responsibility, instilling self-discipline, imaginative play, enlarging creativity, memorization techniques, building self-confidence, and strategies for collaborating successfully. It is recommended that students who register for Act I also register for No Fear Improv, Speech and Diction, and Movement for the Actor I. Eight Classes
You should register for Act II if you passed two semesters of acting class at the community college level (or higher) within the last ten years. With a few exceptions, you may register for Act II if your most recent legitimate acting class was less than ten years ago. Act II usually requires memorization of one short scene and one short monologue. Therefore, students will be expected to rehearse outside of class and may be asked to prepare additional assignments outside of class. Thorough preparation is essential. Students who fail to prepare their coursework sufficiently will not be allowed into Act III. Registrants should be aware that they will receive constructive criticisms and directorial adjustments in Act II. Each student’s ability to take “notes” and integrate the instructor’s feedback will directly impact their enrollment for future Studio A.C.T. courses. It is recommended that students who register for Act II also register for Speech and Diction, Basic Scene Study, Alexander Technique, and a Studio A.C.T. voice course such as Fitzmaurice Technique or Linklater Technique. Eight Classes
You should register for Act III if you passed three semesters of acting class at the community college level (or higher) within the last ten years and have performed in at least two fully-staged productions. If you minored in theater as an undergraduate, Act III may be a good fit for you. Act III requires memorization of at least one scene and one monologue. Therefore, students will be expected to rehearse outside of class and will be asked to prepare additional assignments outside of class. Students enrolled in Act III will learn strategies for rehearsing efficiently and collaborating effectively. Thorough preparation is essential. Students who fail to prepare coursework sufficiently will not be allowed to advance into Act IV. It is recommended that students who register for Act III also register for Impact Improv, Intermediate Scene Study, and Movement for the Actor II. Eight Classes
You should register for Act IV if you passed four semesters of acting class at the community college level (or higher) and have performed in at least three fully-staged productions. In general, Act IV is available to returning students only. Registrants who have not already passed Act I, II, and III will not be admitted to Act IV unless they meet this prerequisite and are able to insightfully discuss their prior training. Prospective students who majored in theater performance as an undergraduate may register for Act IV. However, it is strongly suggested that they be well-versed in the Russian System. Thorough preparation of all assigned material is essential. Act IV is an overview course designed to reintroduce advanced students to the essential principles of good technique. Course content is largely determined by the interests of the students. However, an instructor my choose to focus on a particular playwright or learning style. It is recommended that students who register for Act IV also register for Intermediate Scene Study, Impact Improv, and Introduction to Shakespeare. Eight Classes
This is an upper-level introductory course that may only be taken by returning Studio A.C.T. students who’ve passed Act I. It is recommended, however, that students take both Act I and II before registering for Basic Scene Study. Coursework is focused on text analysis, dramaturgical contextualization, and making actable choices that are supported by the circumstances of the narrative. Actors will learn to “defend” their choices by using the text to verify them. Memorization of two short scenes will be required. Therefore, students will be expected to rehearse outside of class and may be asked to prepare additional assignments outside of class. Thorough preparation is essential. Should the opportunity arise, students may be invited to lend their talents to one of Studio A.C.T.’s directing courses. Students who fail to prepare assignments sufficiently will not be allowed into Intermediate Scene Study. It is recommended that students who register for Basic Scene Study also register for Shakespeare II: The Comedies and a Studio A.C.T. voice course such as Fitzmaurice Technique or Linklater Technique. Eight Classes
An intermediate course that may only be taken by returning Studio A.C.T. students who’ve passed Act I, II, and III. Exceptions may be made for students who minored in theater as an undergraduate and who’ve performed in at least four fully-staged productions. Exceptions may also be made for students who have majored in or who are currently majoring in theater as an undergraduate. The coursework in Intermediate Scene Study is an extension of the coursework in Basic Scene Study. Actors will be made aware of “habits” that inhibit their ability to commune with one another authentically. And they will continue learning how to make substantial choices using the text as their guide. An overview of conventional “text analysis” will accompany directorial feedback to provide students with a deeper understanding of how to rehearse a scene productively. Memorization of two scenes will be required. Therefore, students will be expected to rehearse outside of class and prepare additional assignments outside of class, as directed by the instructor. It is recommended that students who register for this course pair it with Speech and Diction, Shakespeare III: The Tragedies, and Movement for the Actor III. Eight Classes
A course that is geared toward advanced, returning Studio A.C.T. students with a substantial breadth of actor training and professional experience. Prospective students should not register for this course unless they have significant professional acting credits several years of actor training behind them. Registrants without this experience and/or training will not be confirmed. This course combines foundational principles of actor training with advanced techniques for making compelling choices in a professional setting. Students will be asked to expand their creative potential through conventional warm-ups, practical exercises, and directorial feedback from the instructor. A significant amount of memorization may be required. The course work will highlight the differences between two actors self-consciously “performing” for an audience and two actors authentically engaged in spontaneous communion. This approach is directly applicable to film acting. However, its relevance to stage acting is self-evident and extensive. Texts will be drawn exclusively from the realistic tradition. Confirmation of enrollment is at the discretion the Program Director. Eight Classes
This class introduces students to a unique series of exercises originally developed by Sanford Meisner. The work is intended to promote honest "communion" and develop an actor’s emotional authenticity. Because the work is psychologically demanding, this course is open only to those who've passed Introduction to Acting, Act I and II or their equivalents. It is strongly recommended that students research Meisner's pedagogical philosophy prior to registering. Some memorization will be required. Students who are not prepared to commit to a deeply challenging experience should not register for this course. Confirmation of enrollment is contingent upon approval of the Program Director. Eight Classes
These are intermediate and advanced courses. Meisner I is open exclusively to students who’ve passed Introduction to Meisner, Introduction to Acting, Acts I, II, and III or their equivalents. It is strongly recommended that students consult with the Introduction to Meisner instructor to determine whether they should register for Meisner I. Most students elect to move on to Meisner II immediately upon completing Meisner I. Both courses fill quickly and early registration for both is advised. Both courses emphasize the development of the actor’s intuition, and authentic, undefended presence. The technique is immediately applicable in various contexts, including on film and onstage. Students will be assigned a significant amount of material to memorize in both courses. Thorough preparation is essential in order to succeed in either course. Many students choose to repeat Meisner I and II in sequence year after year to deepen their understanding of the work. Confirmation of enrollment is contingent upon approval of the Program Director.
The legendary actress and teacher Uta Hagen wrote what is widely regarded to be the most inspiring, accessible book about the art and technique of acting. It is certainly among the most frequently referenced books in actor training and is prominently displayed on many actors’ personal bookshelves. This advanced course takes the name of Ms. Hagen’s book, Respect for Acting, and will follow closely the lessons contained therein. Ms. Hagen deftly addresses nearly every challenge actors face by demystifying commonly taught, but frequently misunderstood principles of good acting such as pursuing an objective, playing an action, moment to moment spontaneity, entrances and exits, and emotional preparation. This is an exciting opportunity for students to experience a new Studio A.C.T. course taught by Marvin Greene, himself a student of Ms. Hagen’s. It is recommended that students purchase and read Respect for Acting in preparation for this course. This course is open only to students who’ve taken Acts I, II and III or their equivalents. As always, enrollment is contingent upon the approval of the Program Director. Eight Classes
When Constantin Stanislavski started the First Studio of the Moscow Art Theatre and initiated the experiments that would lead to his famous System, Michael Chekhov was among his most talented students. Chekhov, the nephew of playwright Anton Chekhov, was a supremely gifted actor and while he embraced aspects of Stanislavski's System, notably the use of the objective, he ultimately differed with Stanislavski when he became an educator himself. Chekhov felt many elements of Stanislavski's approach led too readily to actors simply playing versions of themselves in different roles. He felt the actor should transform into a character using the imagination, entirely in service of the dramatic narrative. Out of this belief, he created an approach to acting that relies heavily on the imagination and provides actors with tools to embody a range of characters. His technique gives actors a broad new skill set with which to interpret many theatrical styles and embody a great diversity of characters. Chekhov's approach is not exclusive to other approaches, but rather can enhance and extend the techniques actors already employ. Students are strongly advised to study the Russian System before registering for this course. This course is open only to students who’ve passed Introduction to Acting, Acts I, II and III or their equivalents. Eight Classes
This is a course intended for artists, educators, activists, youth workers, and community organizers who are interested in learning how to use theater as a tool for social change. Pulling from the legacies of Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal, students will gain experience with a multitude of theater for social change methods, including Theatre of the Oppressed games and techniques. Classes will introduce students to the theory and practice of Image Theater, Forum Theater, Aesthetics of the Oppressed, a range of theater and therapy techniques, and more. The course culminates in a community forum that will be open to friends, family, and the broader A.C.T. community during the ninth class. The final class will be reserved for students to reconvene, debrief, and review any tools or techniques they have learned. No previous experience with theater required, but an interest in social justice and a curious, playful demeanor are a must! Eight Classes
This introductory course is specifically designed for non-actors seeking ways to excel within the idiom of the corporate experience. A study of 2,500 people in 1973 found that 19% of those surveyed expressed a fear of death, while 41% expressed a fear of public speaking. Putting oneself in a position to be seen and judged is a universal fear. Nonetheless, the business and corporate world has become increasingly dependent on pitches, keynotes, and public presentations. In order to assume a leadership role and effectively communicate within a business and corporate environment, executives need to expand their skill set. This course explores the techniques that have been devised over the last century to help actors overcome the challenges of public performance and help them to become effective communicators. By understanding the principles of storytelling and presence, participants will understand their own particular strengths as communicators, learn how to engage others, and how to compel an audience. It is recommended that students registered for this course pair it with No Fear Improv, The Art of Public Speaking, and Speech and Diction. Eight Classes
In this introductory course, students will build powerful communication skills, useful in giving presentations, making pitches, driving negotiations, leading meetings, explaining concepts, and persuading colleagues. What impression do you make when the stakes are high and your audience is intimidating? Find out in this course. Coursework will include an exploration of interpersonal dynamics and develop students’ inherent capabilities using improvisation and other theater games. With some tricks of the trade and practicable techniques, students will learn to be more confident public speakers. Students will also learn how to deliver a compelling message, and how to transform anxiety into focused energy.
In this course students perform, verbatim, texts drawn from short stories, novels, newspaper articles, and poetry, creating three-dimensional characterizations and theatricalizing non-dramatic literature. Excerpts are analyzed and performed as short plays. Students work as both actor and collaborator, open their imaginations and creative spirit, and learn tools for becoming polished, compelling storytellers. This course is a particularly good fit for writers and poets, who are encouraged to bring their work to class to use as source material. This course is suitable for students of all levels of experience, including beginners. The instructor, Paul Finocchiaro, is a longtime actor with the performing arts company Word For Word. It is recommended that students registered for this course pair it with Speech and Diction or The Art of Public Speaking.
As one of the great pioneers of clowning, Jacques Pierre Lecoq, said “The clown has great importance as part of the search for what is laughable and ridiculous in man. We should put the emphasis on the rediscovery of our own individual clown, the one that has grown-up within us and which society does not allow us to express.” No doubt, the great clowns that have left their mark on their world – from Charlie Chaplin to Buster Keaton to Red Skelton – did so because their work revealed the most vulnerable recesses of their humanity. We laugh because we understand; we relate because we see in these performers ourselves. As such, Clowning is an art unto itself, far more than just learning to “be funny.” Clowning allows the actor to understand authenticity and presence on a deeper level. It is an art form that serves the actor in a variety of contexts, from auditioning to analyzing a script. This course is designed for students who have previously studied physical theater and only open to those who’ve passed Introduction to Acting, Movement for the Actor I, and Act I or their equivalents. Eight Classes
The art of clowning requires not just vulnerability, a spirited curiosity, and a resilient heart, but also the most important scene partner with whom you share these gifts: an audience. Without an audience, the clown cannot exist. Clowning II is a 10-week journey of fostering the fundamentals of this highly invaluable acting technique, while serving to foster the discovery of your clown through performance. Students will have the chance to revisit their clowns developed in Clowning I through devised performance pieces and by taking their acts from the studio space into site-specific venues, while cultivating a deeper sense of authenticity and presence through the immediate and direct relationship with an audience. You will gain a greater sense of confidence in improv skills and a sharper awareness of your performance space—tools that are critical for success in all forms of acting. Eight Classes
In this class students write and perform original solo pieces. Using material from their life experiences and imaginations, students will create a 5-10 minute piece of theater of their choosing. At first the class focuses on writing exercises designed to develop character and story, and then shifts focus to the elements of performance: the physical and vocal expression of the newly created characters and stories. Students will leave this class with an original piece of theater that they may expand on in the future, a variety of physical and written methods to develop characters, and tools to help them create new work. The course will culminate in an invited informal showcase on the final day of class. No writing experience is necessary. Students must pass Introduction to Acting or its equivalent in order to be confirmed for Solo Performance. Eight Classes
This course teaches students the fundamentals of acting on camera by exploring scene work from the industry’s best classic and contemporary film scripts. No previous acting experience (on or off camera) is necessary. Homework, such as scene selection and memorization, will be assigned. Students will be expected to complete assignments thoroughly and on time. Through simple scenes and exercises students will explore the fundamentals of good acting, learn practicable on-camera technique, and acquire a basic, realistic understanding of the film and television industry. It is recommended that students pass Introduction to Acting, Acts I and II prior to registering for this course. Eight Classes
This introductory acting course primarily explores the relationship between the actor and the camera. Topics of instruction include framing, “crossing the camera”, creating depth, continuity, and using gesture effectively. The scripted material used for the course may be drawn from contemporary teleplays, screenplays, and commercials, depending on the strengths and interests of the actors and entirely at the instructor’s discretion. No previous acting experience (on or off camera) is necessary. This course is the perfect complement to Introduction to Acting for the Camera, which primarily explores basic concepts pertaining to good acting and their practical relationship to acting for the camera. Homework in On-Camera Technique, such as scene selection and memorization, will be assigned by the instructor. Students will be expected to complete assignments thoroughly and on time. Students will also acquire “real-world” industry terminology related to good composition, videography, and the collaborative rapport between actor and director. It is recommended that students pass Introduction to Acting and Act I (or their equivalents) prior to registering for this course. Eight Classes
This course teaches students the demands of working in film and television with a rigorous emphasis on personal authenticity. Students will acquire a practical understanding of their position in the frame, hitting a mark, and professionalism. Eight Classes
Acting in Commercials
In this course, students will develop a mastery of on-camera presence. They will delve into the style of commercial acting through improvisational exercises, relationship building, becoming camera-conscious, relaxation techniques, and more. Students will learn from industry professionals what clients and casting directors look for in actors, particularly in the Bay Area. Additionally, the course will provide students with an opportunity to break free from habits that hinder a natural, “authentic” auditions. The course will utilize a camera and monitor so that students will have the opportunity to observe themselves and other classmates in real time. Eight Classes
In this intermediate course, students develop a process for discovering, building, and fully inhabiting a character. Students will delve into character development from all angles. Alternately beginning from scratch and using text to illuminate behavioral clues, students will expand their awareness of interpretive possibilities and explore techniques for connecting to different kinds of narrative. Coursework will include games, exercises, improvisations, and prepared performances. Some memorization may be required.
Do you find yourself making careful acting choices? Risk being bold and blame it on the mask. The mask can free the actor behind it to make committed, grounded choices. The mask made you do it! Contrary to popular belief the mask reveals rather than conceals and allows the actor behind it new freedom. It is a framework within which to play fully. Be inspired by the mask and allow yourself to transform completely into character. Mask work is about the relationship between the mask, it’s wearer and the audience. The same mask can transmit a totally different character when worn by another actor. Tired of being type cast? Want to expand your range beyond what you thought possible? The mask doesn't type cast you. Learn to meet the mask and all the information it gives you, to support it with full body commitment, articulation and specificity in order to make the character and story live. Course work will begin with simple mask work, developing physicality and “finding” presence. Students will eventually play in more complex masks, then character masks, exploring archetypes, appetites and polarity. Unlock your creative power through the mask and learn to observe the clues to the character you’re playing in unexpected places. Any thing can be a mask, and anyone can wear one. Some theater and/or movement vocabulary will be helpful coming into this course. Eight Classes
This course is available exclusively to returning Studio A.C.T. students who have passed Introduction to Acting and Acts I or their equivalents elsewhere. The course addresses common issues that inhibit success when auditioning for theater. Students may "cold read," prepare assigned material, receive directorial adjustments, or be put through their paces in mock callbacks. All students will be asked to self-assess in the process of overcoming unproductive auditioning habits. Résumé preparation and headshot selection will also be touched upon. Although this is an introductory course, it is primarily suitable for students with some prior theater training and experience. Students should have at least two contrasting monologues memorized and prepared well enough to perform on the first day of class. Eight Classes
Available exclusively to returning Studio A.C.T. students who have passed Introduction to Acting, Acts I and II or their equivalents elsewhere. The course explores the skills and techniques that encourage effective auditioning. Students must pass Audition Technique or its equivalent. Students will develop strategies for personal preparation, getting into a powerful place before even entering the audition space. The class will focus on emotional readiness and getting into "character" quickly, script analysis, cold reading, effective interviewing techniques, and monologue work. Each week students will be given scenes from movies, commercials and plays to practice. Various situations will be simulated so the actors will develop the flexibility and confidence to handle any audition. Students are encouraged to consider pairing The Art of the Callback with The Artist’s Way. Eight Classes
Dance and Movement
This sequence of courses is intended to be taken successively. Constantin Stanislavski once said, “With faith in your physical actions you will feel emotions, akin to the external life of your part, which possess a logical bond with your soul...your body is biddable; feelings are capricious.” Movement for the Actor is a course designed with this very concept in mind. It seeks to address the oft remarked phrase of feeling “stuck in the head” when acting. Acting instinctively imbues an actor’s work with authenticity and in order to manifest their power onstage, actors must connect fully to their bodies. This movement course is like an acting course in motion, a playground for rediscovering uninhibited, child-like freedom that will stimulate students’ imaginations, and open them up to a pervasive sense of playfulness in their work. Through group exercises and devised assignments, students will become more adept at playing in the environment of a scene, and creating fully realized, physically expressive characters. In Movement for the Actor II, students may begin to more rigorously explore the relationship between mask and character. It is recommended that students registered for a movement course pair it with a Studio A.C.T. acting and voice course. Eight Classes
Jerzy Grotowski believed actors have two bodies: The first is a conscious body—the one we walk around in every day and have trained to behave appropriately according to social expectations. The second is an unconscious body—where our true impulses and creativity live and through which our inhibitions are released. Using Grotowski’s physical work called plastiques, this class helps actors create a relationship to the unconscious body and the voice that lives in it. Developed by Grotowski himself, plastiques is a body of highly-physical work that isolates each body part and breaks it down into a specific range of movements allowing actors to act, react, and speak from their impulses and emotions rather than their analytical mind. Students will work individually, in pairs, and in groups and must memorize a monologue no longer than ONE minute in length. (Keep your choices in the realm of Chekhov, Ibsen, O’Neill...) Come ready to move. Students must pass Introduction to Acting and Movement for the Actor I or their equivalents in order to be confirmed for Introduction to Grotowski. Please be advised: All movement training is at least somewhat physically demanding. This particular course requires that students be receptive to physical exertion. Students with physical limitations should inform the instructor on the first day of class so that every effort can be made to accommodate them. Eight Classes
This course explores foundational principles of Viewpoints, the popular form of physical and vocal improvisation first created by choreographer Mary Overlie and proliferated by Anne Bogart and the SITI Company. Students will also learn the basic principles of theater performance devised and taught by Tadashi Suzuki. These techniques allow students of all disciplines - actors, directors, designers, playwrights, teachers - to gain a deeper, kinesthetic understanding of the most fundamental tools of the theater: space and time. Students will learn an experiential vocabulary and will be expected to participate in physically rigorous exercises, games, and both short and long form physical improvisations. Students should wear clothes suitable for movement, bring water, and be prepared to work barefoot. Although there are no prerequisites, it is strongly suggested that students take Act I and Movement for the Actor I or their equivalents before registering Elements of Composition. Please be advised: All movement training is at least somewhat physically demanding. This particular course requires that students be receptive to physical exertion. Students with physical limitations should inform the instructor on the first day of class so that every effort can be made to accommodate them. Eight Classes
This is an introductory dance course suitable for ambitious students who have minimal prior dance training, but who would like to learn the fundamentals of Broadway-style dancing. Have you always wanted to learn the original choreography from Chicago, Pal Joey, Sweet Charity, or Pippin? This is your moment! Bob Fosse is a legendary choreographer of Broadway musicals whose legacy was immortalized in the film All That Jazz. You do not need to be a fabulous dancer to learn fabulous choreography! We’ll show you, step by step, how to dance this Broadway legend’s sexy, sultry choreography in a comfortable, supportive, laid-back atmosphere. Meet people who love Broadway musicals as much as you do! Eight Classes
See also The Alexander Technique.
Characterization is physical! Although an actor's work may take them through a variety of mental and emotional explorations and states, the embodiment of the character onstage will always be a physical reality. The embodied character requires a versatile and capable instrument, but it also requires that an actor be able to discover physical possibilities and realities that are entirely new to them. In this intermediate course, students will play with a variety of strategies for freeing the physical imagination and unleashing it onto character - via the body and voice, as well as applying physical imagination to character actions, tactics, etc.
Design & Production
This course is tailored to students seeking an in-depth understanding of how costumes get from page to stage. Students will explore the psychology of clothing in relation to character study, and develop designs that emerge through a process of character analysis, based on the script and directorial concept. Period research, design, and rendering skills are fostered through practical exercises. Students will have access to examples from the enormous and splendid A.C.T. costume collection. Eight Classes
This course is designed for students interested in learning about the use of space in theatrical storytelling. Students will learn the foundations of scenic design for the theater, including design conceptualization and process, script analysis, research and presentation, scale, sketching, and white model–making. Students will be assigned a play and a series of projects, culminating in an expression of their conceptual scenic design. Class time will include instructional time, supervised work time, student presentations, and group discussions. Eight Classes
Theater isn’t just onstage, it’s all around us, from the rush hour tango with strangers on a busy train to the sudden hush when you walk into a place of worship. This project-based course will be an exploration of the connection between person and space as it relates to the theater. Through local site visits, an introduction to Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints, and an in-depth exploration of space and place, participants will learn about performance in non-traditional settings. Themes will include personal storytelling and the environments we inhabit throughout our lives, culminating in short, original pieces of site-specific performance. Some class sessions will take place outside of the A.C.T. studios. No previous theater experience necessary. Eight Classes
This course connects the arts and activism by exploring practices and methods that comprise both. Collaborative projects will focus on creating a multi-disciplinary style of performance. Students will learn about historical periods and global movements and how they inform(ed) the production of theater, and will employ various devising techniques (reflecting different cultures and communities) in their own classroom performances. Eight Classes
You step into the rehearsal room with nothing. You have no script, no preconception of what you’re trying to make. You and your collaborators look at each other. Now what? This is how the generative process starts for devised theater. But what is devised theater? Generally it refers to work created collaboratively, with the performers empowered to create text, movement, and the overall shape of the piece. Participants will learn techniques for creating their own work, while cultivating the sense of play that this work demands. Classes will mix skill-building exercises and creation work—brainstorming, research, games, improvising from accidents—in building towards a short piece of theater. Eight Classes
Short Film Project
Got a great story just waiting to be conceived and shared with the world? All you’ll need is your smartphone and your imagination in a class where you will be the auteur of your own cinematic creation—directing, writing, and acting in your group-devised film projects. In ten weeks, you’ll collaborate with your fellow students to incorporate the fundamentals of acting with the concepts of spatial relationship and cinematic storytelling, culminating in a final Movie Night class where we share your work on the screen. It’s an acting class and filmmaking intensive rolled into one exhilarating course that will leave you with your very own movie starring . . . you! Eight Classes
Artists Assemble: The Craft of Performance-Making
This course explores contemporary methods of multi-disciplinary performance-making, utilizing technology, found spaces, and everyday inspirations. Students will collaborate on multiple performance projects, including the development of site-specific work, text message compositions, and short films. Each project will enable students to focus on specificity of action, clarity of intention, and a variety of structures for compelling storytelling—the foundations for any style of performance. This course is open to students who have passed ACT II, Movement I, or Introduction to Viewpoints.
Have you been curious about improvisation, but have felt intimidated and overwhelmed by the idea of leaping in, scriptless? No Fear Improv is a gentle and fun way to explore the student’s innate ability to be playful and creative. This course features a range of confidence-building exercises, trust- and ensemble-building games, character development, and scene work. Learn to (gently) face fears while developing your instinctive, authentic artist within. This course is specifically designed for students with no prior experience, but is open to everyone. If you think you “know” improv already, leave behind your preconceived notions and step into the unknown with abandon. Studying improvisation frees the imagination, builds self-confidence, and it's fun! Whether you studied improv a long time ago and need a refresher or have come to improv as a complete novice, this course is right for you! Become more spontaneous and receptive to new ideas in a playful, supportive atmosphere, alongside classmates from a wide variety of backgrounds. This course will help students become more comfortable in themselves, no matter the situation. Sometimes silly, sometimes outrageous, improv training inspires students to think outside of the box and say "yes" to the unknown! If you've always been interested in improv, but afraid to give it a try, this is your moment! Tap into the depths of your creativity by saying "yes" to this exciting opportunity. It is recommended that students registered for this course pair it with Introduction to Acting. Eight Classes
This intermediate course is designed for students with various levels of experience. Students must pass No Fear Improv or its equivalent before registering for Impact Improv. Are you no longer a complete improv novice, but not yet a pro? Then this course is probably right for you! Many students choose to repeat this course multiple times to gain the broadest possible exposure to the different principles of acting spontaneously! Learn to have an impact on the audience by playing outrageous scenarios truthfully. Students will train alongside classmates of all backgrounds in a creative, supportive, celebratory classroom atmosphere. Hilarity always ensues, team-building takes center stage, and fun is de rigueur. This performance-oriented course culminates in an open class for friends and family. It is recommended that students registered for this course pair it with Introduction to Acting and Introduction to Theater for Social Justice. Eight Classes
This course will help intermediate students develop a multi-faceted singing technique, prepare songs for a variety of audition circumstances, select appropriate material, and ascertain a comprehensive understanding of casting and audition protocol. Students will refine their professional image and expand their musical repertoire. This course will culminate in the production of a presentation on the final day of class open to friends and family. It is strongly recommended that students registered for this course pair it with Voice Building for Singers. Eight Classes
See also Voice Building for Singers
Studio A.C.T.’s Musical Theater Performance III course is designed to provide the intermediate to advanced singer/actor with an intensive performance experience in a supportive, learning environment. Each artist will train extensively in voice, movement and acting over a nine week session in preparation for a final performance. Prerequisite: Prior singing and musical theater training at an intermediate to advanced level. Eight Classes
Musical Theater Performance IV is an advanced course for students with substantial prior training and experience in relevant disciplines. A voice and dance class are built into the ten-week course of study. The training is multi-disciplinary and fully integrated. Students will be expected to dance, sing, and act simultaneously and will learn large ensemble “numbers” with solos, harmonies and complicated staging. Students do not need to be trained dancers to take this course, but should be very courageous movers. All students will be expected to memorize extensive choreography in addition to their designated voice parts. Some dialogue may be spoken over underscoring as well. At the instructor’s discretion, students may explore a wide variety of musical theater styles spanning over a hundred years of artistic evolution. Musical Performance Theater II and Musical Theater Performance III or their equivalents are required. Eight Classes
This introductory, overview course is open to anyone. No prior knowledge of playing Shakespeare is necessary. It is recommended that students registering for Introduction to Shakespeare also register for Introduction to Acting. Although it is primarily an acting course, directors, theater-goers, and Shakespeare enthusiasts are welcome to enroll. It is recommended that students attend at least one Shakespeare production prior to enrolling in this course. In addition to studying different revisions of Shakespearean plays, students will also acquire a contextual and practical understanding of Shakespeare’s sonnets. An introduction to essential supplementary texts such as the First Folio, “Quartos,” and Shakespeare Lexicon will further enhance students understanding of Shakespeare’s work. Ultimately, students will walk away from the course with a fundamental understanding of scansion and Shakespearean text analysis. It is recommended that students registered for this course pair it with Studio A.C.T. improvisation and movement courses. Eight Classes
This intermediate course is suitable for students who have passed Introduction to Shakespeare, Introduction to Acting, and Act I or their equivalents. Some previous training in playing Shakespeare is required. Although it is primarily an acting course, directors, theater-goers, and Shakespeare enthusiasts are also welcome. Students will learn practicable strategies for getting the best laughs in Shakespeare's Comedies. All will develop a new appreciation for Elizabethan vernacular, rhythm, musicality, comparisons and antitheses, and Shakespearean insults! Students will also learn about archetypal characterizations with a basis in Commedia dell’Arte, the significance of physical and vocal transformation, and traditional theatrical conventions used to illuminate Shakespeare's humor! It is recommended that students registered for this course pair it with Studio A.C.T. improvisation and movement courses. Eight Classes
This intermediate course is suitable for students who have passed Introduction to Shakespeare, Shakespeare I, Introduction to Acting, Acts I and II or their equivalents. Although it is primarily an acting course, directors, theater-goers, and Shakespeare enthusiasts are also welcome. Students will learn to illuminate the emotional highs and lows of a character’s development by dropping in the high-stakes circumstances of Shakespeare’s most tragic works. Through dramaturgical analysis and by tapping into the enormous power of the human imagination, students will further develop an appreciation of Elizabethan vernacular, rhythm, musicality, comparisons, antitheses, and uniquely Shakespearean plot twists. An introductory Shakespeare course and Shakespeare I (The Comedies) (or their equivalents) are prequisites. Students will not be confirmed if they have not already taken at least one Shakespeare course. As always, enrollment is contingent upon the approval of the Program Director. It is strongly recommended that students registered for this course pair it with one Studio A.C.T.’s voice and speech courses. Eight Classes
This advanced course is suitable for students who have passed Introduction to Shakespeare, Shakespeare I, and Shakespeare II or their equivalents. Although it is primarily an acting course, directors, theater-goers, and Shakespeare enthusiasts are also welcome. Students will learn to illuminate the theatricality of Shakespeare's History Plays by using dramaturgical context to strengthen their emotional connection to characters of another time and place. Students will also reference current global events and their own personal experiences in the development of their characterizations. As they uncover what motivates them, students will be asked to expand their creative imaginations by putting themselves in the positions of the characters they're playing. Students will further develop an appreciation of Elizabethan vernacular, rhythm, musicality, comparisons, antitheses, and scansion. Three courses in Shakespeare (or their equivalents) are prequisites. Registration will not be confirmed if the registrant has not already taken at least two Shakespeare courses. As always, enrollment is contingent upon the approval of the Program Director. It is strongly recommended that students registered for this course pair it with one of the many Studio A.C.T.’s voice and speech courses. Eight Classes
Directing & Playwriting
This course is suitable for students with some prior training or experience. Students will explore the relationship between the practical and expressive demands of directing. Particular emphasis will be given to composition, spatial relationships, and the development of a unique aesthetic perspective. Students will learn strategies for communicating with collaborators effectively and acquire a deeper understanding of a director's responsibilities. An overview of directing styles practiced by noteworthy contemporary directors of the American Theater will serve to inspire the work of the students in their own efforts. Under the guidance of the instructor, all students will direct a brief scene of their choosing. Please be advised: students may be asked to act in scenes that they are not directing. Coursework will culminate in an informal showcase open to friends and family on the final day of class. It is recommended that students take Introduction to Acting and Improv I before registering for this course. Introduction to Directing is the perfect companion to Introduction to Theater for Social Change. Eight Classes
Do you have characters in search of a story or an idea wanting substance? Perhaps you just want a kick start to get it all down on the page? Students will learn to research a play, formulate a strategic process, generate rich content, develop the right form and structure, and maintain their authentic voice. Using a range of innovative exercises, students will mine their ideas and write material that will enthrall readers and audiences alike. The course will culminate in short readings of a scene or excerpt featuring some of Studio A.C.T.’s advanced acting students. This creative writing course focuses on the various elements of playwriting, and it is suitable for students of all levels of experience. No prior experience with playwriting is required of students, but for those who have it, this course promises new entry points into the creative process and tools to help students take their writing in new directions. Coursework will consist of discussions, writing exercises, presentations, supportive critiques, and more. It is strongly recommended that students who register for this course also enroll in a Studio A.C.T. acting course congruent to their level of experience. Eight Classes
Voice and Speech
This course presents students with an introductory survey of different techniques to support healthy vocal production. Students will develop breath support and begin to learn about “placing” the voice in different registers. Although singers will benefit from this course, it is primarily oriented toward non-singers who’d like to strengthen their vocal stamina and explore how vocal power and flexibility builds self-confidence. Alexander Technique is the perfect companion to Voice for the Actor. Eight Classes
This course is suitable for students of all levels of experience. The Alexander Technique is among the most widely practiced performance-related techniques in the world. The work is intended to address issues pertaining to the practitioner's bodily alignment, efficiency of movement, and redistribution of tension. Actors will learn how to recognize and undo habitual patterns that get in the way of natural movement, voice production, and creativity. Students will become more deeply present in themselves and in the world by accessing their innate power and flexibility. Students may feel relaxed in this new state of mindfulness, but the Alexander Technique is not a relaxation technique. Students may also find the technique useful in improving their posture, freeing their voices, and deepening their understanding of the human body. It is strongly recommended that students research Alexander's pedagogical philosophy prior to registering. Alexander Technique is the perfect companion to all Studio A.C.T. courses. Eight Classes
This course is intended to bring speech and diction skills to non-actors. It is course that is open to students of all levels of experience with a wide range interests. Speak with distinction and self-confidence. Whether preparing for a big sales pitch, a TEDTalk, or a toast at a wedding, this course will help students develop a compelling delivery. Students will learn the power of elocutionary prowess through a survey of basic voice, speech, diction, and body language techniques. Eight Classes
This intermediate course is taught by Master Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework®, Cynthia Bassham. Coursework explores a fun (and physical) exploration of breath, voice, and text. This approach to voice training was founded and developed by Catherine Fitzmaurice and has a duel emphasis on 1) releasing tension and finding freedom (Destructuring) and 2) gaining breath management skills and increasing commitment and focus in communication (Restructuring). The origins of this work are deeply influenced by Bio Energetics, Shiatsu, and Yoga. Whether you have a little or a lot of voice training, you'll benefit from this rigorous and relaxing approach. Bring a mat/blanket, comfortable clothes, and an open mind! It is recommended that students registered for this course pair it with Alexander Technique and Speech and Diction. Eight Classes
This is a course in which students will learn to strengthen and condition their voices, unlocking the true power and range of their instruments. This course is suitable for anyone striving to develop a compelling vocal presence. Actors will particularly benefit from deepening their emotional connection to language, and non-actors will be amazed at how their confidence soars just by exercising the voice deliberately and healthfully. Kristin Linklater's techniques were immortalized in the book, Freeing the Natural Voice. She is among the foremost vocal coaches in the world and her techniques are widely practiced by theater artists. Students will learn repeatable vocal warm-ups to help prepare for performances of all kinds, such as auditions, interviews, important presentations, or high-stakes power lunches. Some memorization may be required. It is recommended that students registered for this course pair it with Alexander Technique, Speech and Diction, and Fitzmaurice Technique. Eight Classes
These courses are suitable for students of all levels of experience, and many students choose to repeat both to gain the broadest possible understanding of the coursework. Students will learn techniques to promote the development of a richer, stronger, and more versatile speaking voice. Speech and Diction I is an introductory course. Speech and Diction II picks up where Speech and Diction I leaves off and includes an overview of phonetics, an introduction to ear training, and an introduction to the International Phonetic Alphabet. It is recommended that students registered for this course pair it with one of the many Studio A.C.T. voice courses and Alexander Technique. Eight Classes
Dialects and Verbal Actions
This intermediate course introduces students to the art of transcription using IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). Learn how vowel length, consonance, volume, and pitch variation work in harmony to help actors create interesting, specific, compelling characterizations. How does one learn a dialect? What are the best resources for researching dialects? How do actors capture and recreate dialects overheard in their travels or on TV? And most importantly, how does a deeper understanding of dialects help actors enrich relationships between characters or render a dramatic narrative more compellingly? Students will explore and analyze some of the most frequently used dialects onstage (and in film) such as British Cockney and Received Pronunciation, American Southern, and the iconic New Yorker. Students will also learn how specifying a character’s dialect can enhance their ability to play intention. Dialects and Verbal Action is also an acting course. This course allows students to identify how objectives—and obstacles—are highlighted in the way a character speaks.
This is a course that is suitable for students of all levels. Beginning students will discover their best singing voice and more experienced singers will gain an opportunity to exercise their vocal muscles through group work utilizing the Garcia-Marchesi vocal tradition. Students will also learn techniques to help protect their voices when they sing. This course is suitable for students of all levels of experience and may be taken as often as desired. It is recommended that students registered for this course pair it with Alexander Technique. Eight Classes
This class will expand your storytelling through song. Using numbers from musical theater (or jazz standards), we will explore songs as musical texts; how do music and text work together to create character and tell story? What tools can the actor use to tell the story best? Whether you are an experienced singer or an “actor who sings,” we will find the best tools for you as you explore acting through song. Eight Classes
These descriptions are subject to change.
A minimum enrollment of six students must be achieved in order for a course to be offered. In the event that fewer than six students register, course may be canceled. If the course is canceled, all registrants will be issued a full refund. Conversely, most courses are limited to sixteen students so early registration is critical.
All students may register online at www.act-sf.org/studio. New students must fill out a new student questionnaire at the time of their registration.
Non-refundable fees apply: twenty dollar ($20) non-refundable registration fee for new students, seven dollar ($7) nonrefundable registration fee for returning students, five dollar ($5) nonrefundable library fee for all students.
Withdrawal from a course will incur a forty dollar ($40) fee. Refund requests must be made by the end of the first week, and the cost of any courses attended will be added to the drop fee.
NO REFUNDS WILL BE ISSUED AFTER THE END OF THE FIRST WEEK. NO EXCEPTIONS.
Please allow ten (10) working days to process your refund.
Studio A.C.T. Office: 415.439.2441
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