• Jeff Thomakos

Reflections on Our First Intro Course

Well, the first 8-Week class has come and gone and I figured it was time to reflect on what we did and how things went.

I couldn’t have been luckier with the first group of students. They were dedicated, positive and ready to learn. We had a nice range of experience levels. We had a university-level instructor, a newer actor hoping to learn some technique, and a few actors returning to the craft after breaks of various lengths.

Unfortunately, we lost a couple along the way. One found that the timing wasn’t right and opted to take the course at a later time. Another, had a show open in the middle of the course and couldn’t come back. It’s hard to continue your training sometimes. The timing isn’t always right. I feel that if you pay for 8 classes then you should get 8 classes so I always invite them back to finish out the course at no additional charge.* I also will never cancel a class because not enough students sign up. If you’re the only one to sign up for a class with me, then lucky you, you get private coaching at a substantial discount for 8 weeks.*

We cover a lot in that first course. I introduce my students to the philosophies underlying the technique, then we explore Atmosphere, The Trinity of the Psychology, Archetypal Gesture, and the Four Qualities of Movement. These tools are intended to quickly create authentic characterizations and objectives. It’s always so much fun for me when my actors say things like, “Wait a minute. So this is a shortcut to characterization,” “This is a shortcut to finding objective.” “This is so easy,” “This is so fun,” “Why was I working so hard before?!”

My answer is “I know right!? Why were you working so hard before? Why are any of us?” Acting is supposed to be light and joyful. Even in darkly emotional moments, there should be joy there! And yet modern actors insist on suffering it seems.

Yes, we had a lot of fun in each and every class. I just love rediscovering this technique with my students, sensing their excitement, and knowing that they can’t wait to try out this stuff at their next audition or rehearsal.

I said when I moved back to Michigan that I wanted to give back to the community. I want to remind our actors that they are, first and foremost, artists. And that art and the making of art is always joyful. So many actors that I know forget this truth.

Now, we move on to the next intro course and reset back to the beginning. We have more students signed up than last time which is exciting. The class sizes are still quite comfortable, not too large, not too small.

Next year, as we continue to grow, we hope to offer more advanced classes. I can’t wait.

The beat goes on.

*The policies I have now can always changes as we grow. We'll see.

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