A Day in the Life at the ACA
From the Pericles program
Have you ever wondered what is it like to be a student at the Academy for Classical Acting? Their day begins as early as 8am in the studios at 516 8th St. as they prepare for another full day of training. From Monday through Friday, ACA students are in class from 9am-6pm and often have scene rehearsals and other homework in the evening. These actors, ranging in age from mid-twenties to early fifties, set aside an established professional career and homes for a year in order to immerse themselves in the rigors of this twelve-month program.
A typical day of study at ACA begins with either Movement (on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), taught by Roberta Stiehm who combines both Pilates and floor work, or Voice Class (on Tuesdays and Thursdays) with Ellen O’Brien (who is also Head Vocal Coach for the theatre). Mondays are termed “Mask day” by the students. Dressed in all black, the actors spend six hours devoted to developing physical presence and size under the guidance of Mask teachers Isabelle Anderson and Dody DiSanto. Other classes that occur regularly throughout the week include Alexander Technique with Christopher Cherry, Stage Combat with Brad Waller, and Acting with Catherine Weidner. Later in the Fall Term, Michael Kahn teaches acting to the students; first covering Shakespeare scenes and then moving on to Jacobean works in the spring term. Friday afternoons are reserved for Topics class, taught by George Washington University Theatre and Dance Department Chair Leslie Jacobson. This class is a graduate seminar with students reading and discussing a play a week in addition to group presentations and papers on various aspects of life in Elizabethan times. Shakespeare Theatre company members Ed Gero and Floyd King are also integral members of the ACA faculty, with Ed focusing on Text and Floyd teaching the Comedy of Shakespeare’s works.
Usually the first to enter and the last to leave the building, Academy students spend more time in the Academy studios then they do in their own homes during their year here. When production rehearsal time arrives in late April, the hectic five-day week becomes even more so with rehearsals running Monday-Saturday. Needless to say, by the end of the twelve months of study, Academy students have given mind, body and spirit in order to hone their classical acting techniques.
Although the ACA graduates are working all over the country, many are making appearances on D.C. area stages this fall. Todd Scofield, ’03, recently appeared in Tabletop at Round House Theatre in Silver Spring, MD as well as an episode of HBO’s The Wire. Susan Wilder, ’01, is currently in Studio Theatre’s Ivanov along with TST favorite Philip Goodwin. Kip Pierson, ’04, played Donalbain and Young Siward in TST’s Macbeth and will be featured in Ford Theatre’s A Christmas Carol along with Kent Burnham, ’04, and Saskia de Vries, ’01. Saskia will also appear in Romeo and Juliet at the Folger Theatre in January with Ian Lockhart, ’04, and TST Company member Ed Gero. The production will be directed by former TST Associate Director PJ Paparelli. Marcus Kyd, ’01, can be seen in MetroStage’s One Good Marriage through the end of November.
If you would like more information about the ACA, or would like to become a scholarship donor, please call (202) 547-3230 x2402.