One might dislike Shakespeare’s resolution, but there is a grain of truth there. As, it turned out while you study acting you also study living. This is how the participants of Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop (AMAW) at Nu Boyana Film Studios described their two-day transformational experience. The exclusive event on June 27th-28th was organised for the first time in Bulgaria by AMAW and Nu Boyana. It gathered 36 creative individuals willing to upgrade their acting skills. Branches of this #1 Acting studio in LA already exist in Canada, Australia and England. This time Mitchell Mullen, Master Teacher of AMAW London came to Bulgaria to introduce the enthusiasts to the special acting coaching method developed by Anthony Meindl.
A lifetime opportunity for actors and creatives in Bulgaria as Mitchell Mullen teaches a unique acting method at our studios.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
Shakespeare, As You Like It
Despite the weekend Saturday the participants gathered at the studio classroom early in the morning. One could notice familiar faces from Nu Boyana Making the Movie course (no wonder it goes almost as a saying Once Nu Boyana forever Nu Boyana). In fact, the event itself was initiated by the actors starring in the student movie Bar Tricks, Julian Kostov (Leatherface, London Has Fallen) and Luke Cousins (Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort, The Fringe). Not only actors decided to attend the Master Class. Renowned Bulgarian dancers, singers and even professionals unrelated to the artistic domain took the chance to expand their horizons.
On day one no one knew what to expect, excitement was fighting with nervousness. Will there be a contact established? Will the coaching work? All doubts and concerns were set aside as the listeners sat still amused by the initial words of the teacher: “The first thing you will have to do is to stop acting!”
“It’s not just a master class. It’s also for young people who have never been to acting classes and who have a dream to succeed at this field. It’s very nice to have such workshops here in Bulgaria and open up European and American markets for the Bulgarian actors,” said Bilyana Petrisnka, an actress and one of the class participants.
It turned out under the formal name Acting Master Class there was a student friendly, entertaining and enriching program for all. According to Julian understanding acting to a deep extent is necessary for filmmakers. He recommends the workshop to directors and all movie industry professionals.
Indeed, the approach developed by Anthony Meindl combines the classic principles from Stanislavsky that are familiar to many, with some added modern spice. Such mix provides the most effective coaching for the actors and as a result – a superior experience for the viewers later on. Mitchell further explained:
“We are also trying to simplify the things as traditional actor training got very intellectual and put people into their heads… Whereas we are trying to put people out of their heads into their hearts, mostly into their vulnerability, because we think, vulnerability is actors’ currency.”
The way to get more of this “currency” is to make the actors truly open up. Under the guidance of a seasoned professional one word was enough to achieve it. The students came up with a single word that best described “thyselves”. This word also revealed their hidden fears, strength, aspirations.
Then to get everyone from the thoughtful to more dynamic working mood, some active games came in handy, and eventually the challenging part of the class began. The participants split into pairs and read scenes from several scripts, prepared by the teacher in advance. Short scenes of love, friendship, hatred and sadness came to life. The only rule for the exercise was simple “Just be yourself”. One of the participating actors Anton Poriazov shared his first impressions:
“It was just great: feeling the scenes, having the magic coming out of your soul, your heart and delivering it to your partner.”
A detailed analysis by the audience and Mitchell himself followed each performance. As a professional teacher, an actor and a performer he managed to pinpoint the weaknesses of the students and still make them laugh.
“Mitchell is one of those teachers that were born to be in this profession. He is very expressive and to the point, he knows how to help you, how to show you the way to improve. He can show you who you really are and what you are capable of,” said Poly Genova, a Bulgarian singer and actress.
On the second day the nervousness was replaced by excitement, smiles and a boost of working enthusiasm. All the fears, including the one of the language barrier, were gone. “My English is not perfect but it was enough. You watch, see the reactions, it’s non-verbal communications and everything is clear,” said Yoanna-Izabella Varbanova, one of the professional dancers that took the class.
Certainly, an exercise at the beginning of day #2 became an emotional climax for everyone. A single song, two people, no words, only gestures… The students had four minutes to imagine and play two people meeting each other and then saying “bye”. One could hardly imagine how many stories and personal memories were revealed. Part of the students watching the rest during the exercise could not hide the emotions.
Some cried and admitted it was one mini impromptu performance. Afterwards, the actors had a chance to show their progress by performing their scenes from the day before. An express class supposes express breakthrough that was acknowledged by both the students and the Master teacher. Mitchel was very pleased with the students and the progress they made in just two days:
“What I’m really struck by is the directness and the sense of humor these Bulgarian students have. I had some fears whether they would understand what I am talking about, understand some of these ideas I was introducing to them. But no, they were just filled with presence, sense of fun and sense of power and strength!”
Student also did not hide their emotions while saying goodbye to the class and now favorite mentor. Yana Victorova, an aspiring movie making professional shared with us:
“Already at the end of day #1 I thought “God, this is gonna be over tomorrow! And I won’t be able to go to the class unless I go to London. I can’t even imagine what kind of results you can get practicing this method even once a month. I feel so bad that Mitchell leaves and I don’t know when he’s coming back, I hope soon.”
The undeniable progress of the students is just the beginning. As Mitchell mentioned once in his comments “You’ve just scratched the surface…” And we are not going to stop at what has been accomplished. AMAW offers to actors and creatives various coaching options that we are going to bring you at Nu Boyana in the future. So get ready!
by guest author: Olya Amburg