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IN THE CHAIR: YOUR THORNS ARE THE BEST PART OF YOU

Listen to Episode Two on Apple Podcasts

Listen to Episode Two on Spotify

Welcome back to In the Chair

This week on In the Chair, Will Brockman and Samantha Vita are joined by Method Acting teacher and Actors Studio member, Geoffrey Horne. Geoffrey shares about his time studying under Lee and the pressures he faced in the industry. Also featured on today’s episode are NYU Tisch at Strasberg alumni Caitlin Hammond and Simone Elhart! Tune in as this lively bunch discusses Method Acting, sensitivity, and the importance of self-care for the actor.

The Dangers of Type Casting

Geoffrey Horne studied directly under Lee Strasberg, was accepted into the prestigious Actors Studio, and has now been teaching Method Acting for more than 40 years. He recalls that, in a world that looked down on sensitivity, Lee was the first person to encourage him to be sensitive. “I felt like I’d found a home,” he says, “[sensitivity] came easily to me and I felt comfortable being that person. The sensitive boy.” However, after getting his big break in a successful movie, Geoffrey was perceived in a different way. Although he felt more connected with vulnerable and sensitive “nobody”, in the wave of his newfound success, Geoffrey was offered roles as the confident leading man.

“I felt like I was a character person. I may not have looked to them like a character actor, but that’s how I felt.”

Geoffrey Horne

Geoffrey explains how his career suffered as a result, and how this sort of type casting limits the actor by ignoring the many complex and contradictory parts of human nature. When a value, or type, is assigned us as to an actor, we feel the need to cultivate it. “We cultivate our roses,” he says, “our roses are what we were told are good about us.” Geoffrey reminds us not only that doing so can feel like a betrayal of our true selves but also that, in the words of Mary Anne Morris, “your thorns are the best part of you.”

Taking Control of Your Career

“Make a plan, 2 hours a day, that I’m gonna work on what my real job is. Not my intern job, the job that I want: to be an actor. Two hours a day, every day, and just make yourself do that.”

Geoffrey Horne

Geoffrey recommends deliberately setting a small part of your day, every day, to work on your career, but not in the way you might think. He doesn’t suggest taking time each evening to obsessively scroll through Backstage or spending breakfast updating your resume. Rather, he urges us to find ways to activate the imagination. These small tasks can include journaling, seeing a show, or simply choosing to watch an award-winning film to observe the acting instead of binge-ing the latest Netflix series. Geoffrey’s suggestion? Read one play a week – every week!

Caitlin explains that tasks like these help keep you grounded and motivated, especially when you feel helpless in the face of auditions and casting processes. “Do things that you can control,” she says, “Because so much of it is out of your control, the things that you can do for yourself are really important.”

The group also agrees that periods of rest are both beneficial to and, at times, necessary for your career. Another LSTFI Method Acting teacher, Tim Crouse reminds his students to let their fields lie fallow. Simone explains that, when given a period when you’re not actively training or pursuing artistic endeavors, you are still growing as an actor. “You’re learning other things,” she says, “you’re learning life, you’re learning business skills, you’re learning to be on your own without this structure of classes.” Sam remarks that, especially as a Method Actor, having rich life experiences to draw from is incredibly important.

Want more? In The Chair can be found on iTunes, Spotify, and Listen Notes!

TRANSCRIPT

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Dear Students and Prospective Students,

As news of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to develop, we wanted to take time to reassure our community that The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute is monitoring circumstances on a regular basis. We are committed to the well-being and education of our students, faculty and staff. Following in step as other universities and schools, we have transitioned to holding classes remotely in ways that are meaningful.

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