Sunday, 8 July 2012

Best School of Acting - why? what?

Lisa Schulberg writes

I am an actress, presenter, director, teacher, and theatre company owner.  I love drama, imagination, creativity, communication, the world around us and the people in it and I am constantly inspired by those that I meet - and they are all the reasons for launching the Best School of Acting.  The easiest way to let you know what this new concept in theatre training is about is to explain where the idea has come from – a journey both personal and professional.  

I have had a love of performing since I was very young, which was properly ignited into an ambition when I was cast as Alice in the school production of Alice in Wonderland when I was 9 – from this moment on I believed this was what I wanted to do, I loved acting, singing and dancing and I also enjoyed school and studying.  

At 11 I went to a full time stage school then at 14 I returned to a standard school to complete my studies, then A levels, University and then Drama school for a postgraduate Professional Acting Course. I then worked in theatre, film and television during the next few years and whilst not touring or working I began teaching and directing and spent 8 years teaching Acting and voice for a top London stage school.  I learnt more about acting through my years as a teacher and director than all the years previously that I had spent being taught. In the last 14 years through workshops, teaching and directing youth theatres and having worked with over 50,000 young people aged 4-21.   Here is what I have discovered  –

First – a dream, a belief, a love of something, whether it is to grow into a career or not should be encouraged and supported  and most importantly, from an individual perspective, every person is different and their path may not be the same.

The ‘person’ is at the heart of their performance and the performer must be nurtured.  Confidence, imagination, team work, energy, belief – all wrapped up in a relaxed and natural persona make the most watchable and engaging actors.

Bad habits set in fast and many actors spend a great deal of time adjusting the negative ways they learnt  to perform when they were young – and yet many young people I have worked with grasp the skills and ideas that I didn’t learn until much later…there is so much time and energy that can be saved!

Essential vocal and physical skills let many young performers down, holding back their versatility and cutting down their options– the ideas, creativity and imagination are there but they need help in putting it into practice.  It is possible to make this disciplined part of performance fun and appropriate for young people and if learnt when young will become second nature.

There are so many different styles and approaches to acting and the more you learn the more you find what suits you and where you fit in – especially in a modern world where most of the acting we experience is through TV and film…it’s time to move on – embrace all the elements of drama and theatre from the past but to create the actors of the future.

The Need for a new way

There are schools that offer fun drama, a bit of everything, an exploration of performance in enjoyable and nurturing ways – I teach at them, I direct at them , and they are brilliant at what they do, especially at including everyone and making sure that everyone has a fantastic time.  But what happens when you are that little bit more serious, when you want to focus on acting, when you have talent and potential that needs nurturing – but you don’t want to give up everything else or head off to a London based or full time drama school?  When I looked – I couldn’t find the answer…and that’s when this new idea of training was formed.  Let’s create a new school, with a new format, that is going to help develop a new generation of performers.  The focus is on acting, however the school wants to support and develop talent and potential across the board for young people and there are further classes that we offer alongside these, recognising the need for these  disciplines for all round performers.

Many groups focus on performances – which are great fun, but rehearsals sometimes take so much time out from the  learning and development in a session  –  a bit like football teams that only play matches and don’t learn the skills, flair, or stamina that make them truly winning teams.  The Best School of Acting will share their work and deliver performances but the main focus of each class and term will be on the building of skills and talent that can be used in performances and life.

The course will be brilliant for those that love performing and acting, who want to get better at what they do, who study drama or don’t, who want to be actors or who just want to act!

Our faculty work as a team and every class and term is carefully put together and co-ordinated so that there is a clear structure in order that the students grow throughout every class, and that all elements of the course support each other.  From previous experience often teacher’s have individual targets for their sessions or a course structure for a term, but we feel that meetings and early planning with our staff will prevent students being pulled in different directions and the sessions not combining together. 

It is also important to note that this school is also not just about becoming an actor –it’s much more…I was  fascinated and inspired when a couple of years ago I worked with an educator who pointed out that in 10 years time there would be approximately 15 equally qualified people for every job – so it’s not just about qualifications –it’s about the person, the way someone puts themselves across, their ability to communicate well, be quick minded, a team player, a well rounded person – and essentially that is at the heart of the ethos at Best School of Acting.

We are creating a school which we would have wanted to go to – and it’s amazing the amount of professional performers who I have spoken to about it who have said – I wished there was something like that when I was younger…well now there is!