In 1979, after getting out of the Marines I was doing Theatre in Orange County, attending college on the GI bill and working as a stage carpenter at Saddleback College. I knew I wanted to be an actor and rather than move to LA and study there, I instead went to New York and entered the 2 year conservatory program of the National Shakespeare Company. There I trained to be a classical actor.
Since that time Iâ€™ve attended ongoing classes from time to time in NY and LA and found the difference in approach and emphasis to be logical. New York is a Theatre town and much of the material used in class is drawn from Theatre. In LA classes, Film and Television material is favored. Iâ€™m not going to draw any comparisons because there are brilliant teachers on both coasts and great actors have come out of both places. Speaking for myself though, and myself alone, I am glad that I chose to train in the classics and do a lot of Shakespeare jobs at the beginning of my career.
Since that time I have never encountered a piece of dramatic literature, Theatre, Film or Television, that I could not understand, appreciate, analyze and eventually master. Studying and playing ShakespeareÂ gave me a foundation in language, history, literature and good, old fashioned, rip snorter storytelling that has served me well across the entire spectrum of my work, from Army training films, to half-hour comedies, to big hollywood movies, to Broadway and to tiny black box theaters on the â€œfringeâ€. To my colleagues who have yet to dip into classical theatre, especiallyÂ Shakespeare. Find a class. Try it out. It wonâ€™t kill you, and it will make you stronger.