Friday, February 19, 2016

St. Bonaventure, Alfred University theater students learn from a master

Photo: St. Bonaventure and Alfred theater students, along with professors Ed. Simone (far left) and Steven Crosby, had the chance to work with master teacher Jane Brody.
Students from St. Bonaventure University and Alfred University participated in a workshop in physical theater taught by Jane Brody.
Brody is an internationally acclaimed theater artist, director, author and master teacher. The three-day intensive workshop in January featured work in Viewpoints and the Mythic Journey of the Actor, as well as Brody’s Super Scene techniques that teach the actor to free the body and achieve character through physical action.
“When you get physical, the ego goes away and the genius comes out. And everybody has a little genius inside,” said Brody.
Dr. Ed. Simone, director of the theater program at St. Bonaventure, and Prof. Steven Crosby, professor of theater at Alfred University, teamed up to bring Brody to Western New York.
“Steve and I had been trying to get our students together for a while,” said Simone.  “We’ve seen each other’s productions and wanted to have our students work together on a project.  This workshop was a great opportunity.” 
The workshop was taught at both SBU and Alfred with students traveling between campuses in a truly shared experience.
Amid Brody’s exhortations of “Don’t bore yourself!” students moved barefoot on gym mats, wrestled each other to the ground, and used the physical elements of scenes to bring characters vividly to life, adding in lines only after extensive exploration of the “push and pull” of the dynamics of the scenes.
“Your body is in the situation, is the character, and you can go with that,” said Betsy Vivar, a St. Bonaventure theater student. 
Other students said the workshop, which also included videos and a session of script analysis, was a positive challenge to approach acting in a new way.
Brody, a former casting director and a member of the faculty in DePaul University’s theater program for many years, has published several books, including research relating neuroscience and behavioral studies to the process of acting, as well as a practical guide to the actor’s career. She travels extensively, presenting acting workshops and seminars.
“We’re so fortunate to have been able to get Jane here between completing her latest book and heading to London for another workshop,” said Simone.
Fourteen students participated in the workshop, which included a wrap-up session on the business of being a working actor and using actor training to make a better, stronger life.
“Actor training is about training to be more human; to be an articulate, feeling, empathetic, energetic human,” said Brody.  “It teaches you skills that can transfer to any line of work.”