The workshop is an on-going class in Improvisation Technique and various specialized subjects that go beyond traditional actor training. The class is unique and nontraditional in its curriculum, participation and logistics. The workshop participation is experiential. This is not a class where actors sit and watch others act. In every class everyone is on the floor 3 – 5 times per class. The teacher serves as a coach and there is no traditional subjective critique from the coach or the other class members. Instead, there is a question and answer follow-up designed to lead the actor toward any necessary self-insight. For a description of the content and logistics, see Curriculum or Logistics.
All members of a workshop group start at the same time. No new members are ever admitted to an existing group. Each workshop meets one evening per week, 7 to 11pm. An entire workshop will last between two to three years depending on the unique characteristics of each individual group. Enrolled members pay by the month for as long as they wish to continue. There is no contract or pre-payment to stay beyond the current month. Auditing is never allowed.
There is no set schedule for the commencement of new groups. New groups are announced and formed during the last two months of an existing group. New groups start, on the average, about once a year. The Workshop opened in 1985 and there have been 31 groups in addition to 12 groups for beginners. In 2016, Groups 29, 30, & 31 are continuing and Group 32 will begin. With the passing of our colleague, Larry Drake, in 2016, we are no longer offering additional groups for beginners.
Joining A Group (Professional Actors)
If you are interested in joining a group contact us and your name goes on a list. When a new group is announced, we communicate to everyone on the list and invite them to a free seminar with Stephen Book. The seminar is a presentation on the nature and scope of the workshop, a description of what occurs in class, and an opportunity to have your questions answered. The seminar will also include a presentation on the pros and cons of traditional acting classes. The seminar is our substitution for auditing.
After attending the seminar, everyone is given an opportunity to apply to the new group. The primary application is a personal meeting with Stephen Book. After that meeting there may be an additional step such as an audition. Not everyone who applies is accepted. Attending the seminar is a prerequisite for meeting with Stephen and joining the workshop.
Professional actors are eligible for Stephen’s groups.
The experiential curriculum proceeds in a sequential order:
- How to Improvise–Basic Technique of Improvisation, including Essential Starters, Physical Doing, Inner Doing, Vocal Doing
- Improvisation Applications to Rehearsals for Theater, Film, and TV, including First-Level Improvisations for Scripted Scenes
- Improvising Professional Acting Skills, including Character, Emotions, Conflict, Agreement
- First-Level Improvisation Applications to Camera and Stage Auditions
- Acting the Script with Improvisation Technique including Purpose of Scene, Monologues and Purpose of Scene, Gaining More Finesse with Purpose of Scene
- Advanced Emotion Project including Emotion Arcs and Switches, Crying monologues, Crying dialogue scenes
- Interview Project for applying Improvisation Technique to creating successful meetings (not auditions) with agents, managers, producers, and casting directors
- Advanced Purpose of Scene
- Preoccupation Project
- Advanced Emotion Project II including Alba Emoting (universal emotion breath patterns)
- The Witness
- Deep Character Project including Universal character archetypes, Mask work
- Micro-expression Project
- Comedy Project including Sitcom, Improv comedy
- Final Project, unique for each group