The Actors Studio Drama School Students Take the Stage
Week One Cast
Week Two Cast
Week Three Cast
Week Four Cast
The first class of actors, directors and playwrights will graduate from The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University this spring, but not before stepping onto the stage. Each of the students will have a chance to star in a one-act play or scenes from a longer production during the four-week Repertory Season, which opens April 15 at Dance New Amsterdam just across from Pace University’s downtown campus in New York City. The performances are free and open to the public.
Three years ago these students entered The Actors Studio Drama School as Pace’s first class, a group of 25 with raw talent and ambition. In May they will leave Pace equipped not only with their own talent and an MFA degree, but with the craft, knowledge, and method they need to succeed in the world of performing arts.
A Transformative Experience
“When we auditioned them three years ago we were looking for that tiny little spark, and then to see that develop into a fire … that is the most thrilling thing,” said Andreas Manolikakis, chair of the program and a lifetime member of The Actors Studio, who added that the students have been intensely preparing their thesis works.
The students themselves notice a remarkable difference.
“These three years have been an intense and life-changing experience,” said Javier Molina, a graduating director. “When I graduate I’m fully confident that I can hold my own with the best in the business. I can walk into a meeting and talk about Stanislavsky, Vakhtangov, Kazan, and Brecht.”
Kerri Campbell Evens, a graduating actor, added, “When I applied for the program I said it was because I was so tired of seeing people act who don’t want to train, who only relied on a good headshot. This program gave me the technique to bring my acting to a new level. Now I have the training to back my talent, headshot and resume.”
And what they’ve learned is not limited to the classroom.
“I’ve grown tremendously as a person, as an all-around artist, as a spiritual being,” said Molina. “So much of what we do with the method is connecting with the soul to explore yourself and to connect with your creative energy.”
The Actors Studio Method
Connecting to the deep emotion is integral to the Actors Studio method, explains Elizabeth Kemp, Director of the Acting Department and a lifetime member of The Actors Studio. The essence of The Actors Studio method is “public solitude,” for the artist to be private in public. The classes are intense and intimate, with no outside observers allowed in, which mirrors the intensity and privacy of The Actors Studio. But once the work is ready, the students take to the stage.
Kemp continued, “This work is so much about making it truthful and personal. They open their hearts and that’s been something to see. They can open up and access characters in a way they could not in the September of their first year. They can be raw and pure in front of people,“ said Kemp.
The Repertory Season will be the true test of all they’ve learned.
“The repertory season is the climax, a professional production with the lighting, costumes, set design, and exposure to the public and professional world,” said Manolikakis, who expects to see members of the Pace community, the downtown community, as well as professional agents and managers in the audience.
Faculty members are confident that the students are ready.
“Even through the lens of the Theater History classes, one can perceive during the first year of training here an extraordinary opening in the individual students, a flowering of artistic perception that is truly dramatic, personal, and deep,” said Bill Coco, Director of the Theatre History Department.
Kemp has been teaching at the Actors Studio Drama School since its inaugural year of 1995, and says this year’s class is special.
“Because this is the first graduating class at Pace, it has this freshness and newness to it that is really exciting. It is so intimate, it’s like family. It has a real conservatory feel,” she said.
A Different Kind of Rep Season
The Actors Studio Drama School Repertory Season is different from other repertory seasons in that each student gets a chance to star. Most other programs put on one full-length production with only a few leading actors. At Pace, each student will have his or her chance to shine.
“Many wrongly believe that a full length production will give the actors a complete experience of what it is to be an actor, but we believe that if you can act, you can act just like if you can drive a car from here to Midtown, you can drive a car from here to Chicago,” explained Manolikakis. “And in a full length play there are leads, second leads, and then there’s a guy smoking behind a tree. In our repertory season, no one is the guy smoking behind the tree; everyone gets a chance to star.”
A variety of plays and styles will be showcased including “Prescriptions,” an original work by Ellen Orchid, a graduating playwright, “Extremities,” by William Mastrosimone, and “Mud” by Maria Irene Fornes. The season will cap with a professionally produced staged reading of the full length play, “Dream Wedding!” an original work also by Orchid.
The performances will take place April 15-May 5, Wednesday through Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. at The Theater at Dance New Amsterdam, 53 Chambers Street (Between Broadway and Centre Street), North of City Hall Park, New York City. There is no charge, but reservations are required as seating is limited. Visit for the full schedule of performances and to reserve tickets.
Broadwayworld.com features the inaugural Actors Studio Drama School at Pace Repertory Season in a March 29, 2009 article.