a really excellent acting/directing teacher – open classes

Gary Imhoff's open classes - Sept 24th and 26thso if you were at the August 31st workshop, you might remember Keegan Uhl standing up and talking about an upcoming Gary Imhoff Open Class. he then asked me to pipe in as he knows i’ve known and been a huge fan of Gary Imhoff for nearly twelve years now. sadly i was a little taken by surprise and anxiously preoccupied with making sure everybody had a ballot and a tiny golf pencil and ending up giving what was apparently a very (in Keegan’s words) “underwhelming” pitch.

the truth is that despite the fact that i’d attended a four-year acting conservatory (Boston University) and then acted professionally in New York and on the road, it wasn’t until working with Gary nearly a decade after my journey as an actor began that i REALLY started to learn the nuts and bolts of acting. i do credit B.U. with teaching me how to discover and then hone my instrument (voice, movement, blah blah blah), but Gary was the one who taught me what to DO with that instrument back in the early 2000s. then when i made the switch to writing/directing about five years ago, i felt like i was starting over completely. it was a rougher switch than i had anticipated and despite the fact that i had over a decade of experience as an actor, i couldn’t figure out why i wasn’t able to draw better performances from my actors. so about a year and a half ago, i discovered that Gary was teaching and decided i needed to go back to school – but this time as a director.

interestingly what i found was that Gary and his entire teaching philosophy had evolved. his class is like nothing i’ve ever experienced – and i can’t lie: it’s not for everyone. people that feel like they need an acting teacher who’s more like a coach – people who want a teacher to scream and frighten them into “acting better” like a lion tamer with a whip should find training elsewhere. but if you want a safe but encouraging place to try things that you’ve always wanted to try but were afraid you’d be laughed at … Gary is your man.

i’ll give you an example: i’ve been messing around with the notion of doing a particular one man show for over half my life. i am not exaggerating. spring semester freshmen year was when i first put something up that was the kernel of the show, then tried again senior year with a full one-man show, but totally watered-down and crappy. barely even hinted at the stuff i really wanted to get into. then once again on THE september 11th, 2001 in an acting class that was almost cancelled, but the class fought to do it anyway and the piece (which is generally about the line between sanity and insanity) ended up even being a little apropos. that was very well received, but then i still abandoned it for a variety of different reasons and never did anything more with it.

but then i started in Gary’s class about 18 months ago, and since then i’ve workshopped over half the piece and am on track to finish the whole thing and to put it up for real world workshop performances by November or December. interestingly, doing this one-man show doesn’t exactly fit into our production company’s business plan, but it very well might be the most artistically fulfilling piece i’ve ever done in my entire life.

Gary’s goal for the past few years has been to create the safest place in Los Angeles to be an artist, and i can say without reservation that i’ve never even heard of a safer place. you can’t audit his class – in fact, that’s one of many things that help keep it so safe – but you can come to the occasional open class. he has a music theatre open class on Saturday, Sept 24th and an acting open class on Monday, Sept 26th (Keegan and i are in the Monday class, both as directors).

… so though i didn’t have time on Wednesday to let you all know how i really feel, hopefully i’ve been able to make up for that here.