There is no doubt that theatre and film will persevere and survive through the pandemic. In the meantime, however, actors are asking themselves many questions. Should I continue to hone my craft and train online prior to the industry opening up? Will online training even be worth it? We took the time to interview both faculty and students and the resounding answer is… yes!
THE FACULTY PERSPECTIVE
According to Sharon Angela, Method Actor and instructor at LSTFI Los Angeles, there are three key foundations to Method Acting: relaxation, concentration, commitment. The shift to online actor training yielded some surprising benefits in all three of those categories. Sharon shares with us the positive changes she has seen in her students’ work – and the importance of continued training during this period.
Relaxation, Concentration, and Commitment
“There’s no place like home.”Judy Garland, The Wizard of Oz
Relaxation work is at the very core of Lee Strasberg’s Method. The relaxation technique, requiring only a chair, is designed so the actor can practice and relax in any environment. With that said, Sharon has found “that students can find different levels of relaxation, being that they are in their own home”. While some students may thrive on the group energy found in a classroom, others may be able to deepen their relaxation in the comfort – and privacy – of their own home. The transition to remote learning has provided many with the unique opportunity to explore their acting technique alone, and in a familiar environment, rather than a room full of peers.
Online Method Acting classes have also created the opportunity for students to deepen their concentration skills and commitment to their craft. With ample distractions available at home, and no teacher live in the room, students must keep an increased focus in order to stay fully engaged in their virtual work.
“[The students] were able to concentrate and commit more. As far as concentration, they are learning a whole other level of concentration because it’s just them and a computer screen. So, they have to create their sense of reality on a whole other level.”Sharon Angela
Teachers across the nation have noted how Zoom classes can challenge students’ attention spans. Sharon, however, sees the positive. “In each one of the foundations of our work, students may find other levels in the online courses, due to the fact that they must.” Undoubtedly, those that continue to work virtually throughout the pandemic will emerge with new understanding of focus and a laser-sharp work ethic.
Why Should Students Continue to Train?
It should come as no surprise that the greatest actors are constantly evolving and honing their craft – and never consider their education as an actor to be complete. Even experienced actors should continue to train and will find terrific benefits from a refresher course or more advanced alumni classes. Even with online training as the only option, Sharon Angela is in complete agreement.
“You should always continue to train. The opportunity has been shifted to only online, but that doesn’t mean you are losing anything by it. Method Acting, to me, is taking acting into the art form and one must always keep the instrument sharp. The online courses help you to stay in tune with [your] instrument. It keeps [the students] passionate, it keeps them focused.”Sharon Angela
Sharon also points out the added benefits of online training, beyond simply staying sharp, given the new and evolving state of the industry. Simply put, the actor who has dedicated themselves to online training will be infinitely more equipped to handle remote auditions, virtual performances, and self-tapes.
“The online course will teach you to be focused, in control, professional when going into your audition. The online courses are giving you the tools to know what to do when you go into the audition.
At least for the next two or three years, most of the auditions are self-tape. Taking the online courses gives you a step ahead of the actor coming in with no skill and no technique. Even the professional world is working [online]. The online courses will definitely give the student the technique to walk into the audition, be in control, be prepared, and book it.”Sharon Angela
THE STUDENT ACTOR PERSPECTIVE
Students from all over the globe are able to delve into Method Acting for the first time because of online classes. For some, online classes have provided an opportunity to train when relocating to New York or Los Angeles wasn’t an option. For others, online classes have granted immense flexibility and allowed students craft their training around a work schedule or childcare. While inspired by a necessary change in the face of COVID-19, the shift to remote learning has been filled with unexpected benefits. But, don’t take it from us! Here are just a few testimonials from our students on their online acting experience:
I have been really enjoying my time at Strasberg. I have never done acting before and the teaching and the technique has been incredible and has given me more confidence than I could have imagined.
MJ [Karmi] and Sharon [Angela] are incredible people and teachers and I truly cannot imagine this any other way. I do feel like I have a TON more to learn and am looking forward to taking a full-time schedule next semester!”Megan B, after completing Method 101 and enrolling in the 12-week program
“I was supposed to start a year ago, but I couldn’t find a place in Los Angeles to move to. Because [LSTFI] was forced into a virtual setting, I was then able to start. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to start until I moved here.”Mónique Ray, in her Student Spotlight
I cannot even begin to convey the utter joy that washed over me seeing these accessible online classes – I’ve always wanted to learn Method Acting & now finally dove in.Stefanie Kast de Martinez, on the accessibility of online classes
Online Actor Training Options at LSTFI
The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute offers a wide variety of online programs and training options. In addition to regularly scheduled classes from our New York and Los Angeles campuses, LSTFI has developed three programs specifically for online acting training:
Method 101 is a month-long class designed to provide a solid foundation in Lee Strasberg’s Method Acting. Classes meet twice a week, in either the morning or evening, and guide students through Lee Strasberg’s relaxation and sense memory exercises. Perfect for those just staring out, or experienced actors who are new to The Method, there is no audition or prior experience required. Completion of Method 101 – or another program of study through our New York or Los Angeles campus – is required in order to enroll in the Online Acting Subscription or Method in Focus classes.
This monthly subscription allows students to establish, hone, and maintain their Method Acting technique. Weekly relaxation and sense memory classes are supplemented by monthly talks, advanced workshops, and Q&A events with industry professionals. Students may attend any or all of the classes and events offered each month, making it the ideal online training option for those looking for utmost flexibility. Each month, your Online Acting Subscription contains the following:
- METHOD MONDAY: Weekly two-hour classes consisting of relaxation, sensory, and the development of a specific facet of acting – such as character creation, relationships, or improvisation.
- MASTER CLASS: Each month, an advanced master class seminar is taught by an LSTFI instructor or guest artist. These specialized workshops allow you to explore a new facet of The Method, the industry, or your artistry. Past master classes topics have included Audition, Monologues, Protest Through the Arts, and Character Creation.
- LEGACY CONTINUES: Each month, David Lee Strasberg is joined by a special guest to discusses the industry and the practical application The Method.
- METHOD AT THE MOVIES: Each month, filmmaker Sasha Krane holds a seminar to discuss Method Acting techniques through the context of film. Participants watch a preselected movie ahead of time, then tune in for discussion and analysis.
Method in Focus is a month-long class that specializes in a particular facet of Method Acting. The topic for Method in Focus changes month to month and allows students to delve into the many techniques needed in their actor toolbox. Upcoming Method in Focus topics include:
October 2020: Casting Workshop with Arlie Day and Thomas Sullivan
November 2020: Improvisation with David Salsa
December 2020: Animal Exercise with Kymberly Harris
No matter your location, experience level, or schedule, there will always be an exceptional online class that is right for you at LSTFI. With any questions regarding our online acting options, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected]rg.edu.