What makes a great acting studio?

byCharlie Sandlan

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Charlie Sandlan - Acting Coach NYC - Acting Coach in NYCAs the Executive Director and senior acting teacher at the Maggie Flanigan Studio, I am consumed with this question. As with any art form, acting requires a solid craft, and I believe that any great studio should be rooted in a clear and solid, teaching philosophy. But that isn’t enough. I believe that if you do your homework on New York City acting studios, you can uncover what their priorities are. A good studio continually challenges themselves and its faculty to grow, both as artists and as teachers.

I believe the shaping of a training program requires the same appetite for growth and evolution that any true artist struggles for. I believe a great acting studio should not tolerate laziness or complacency from its students, nor should they accept it from its faculty and staff. The student experience should be the absolute priority of any good training program; not the ego or reputation of a particular teacher, not a perpetuation of the superficial, pop-culture myth that studying with us will somehow guarantee you a successful career, and certainly not as an avenue to peddle a book. I believe any great studio care’s about shaping artists; well rounded, well educated artists who possess solid craft, intellectual curiosity, compassion for human suffering, an inviolate sense of truth, an appetite for creative struggle, and a deep desire to illuminate the human experience.

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So just as a young actor must have a vision of the type of artist they wish to be, so must an acting studio have a vision of the type of actor they wish to send out into the world. This requires an unrelenting commitment to excellence. There are so many studios in this city that are doing the same thing they did 30 years ago. They offer a stale, hodge-podge curriculum, they retain tired and complacent teachers, and they rely solely on a reputation that may have been earned decades ago, but have now just become factories that care about the number of students they can enroll and how much money can be made off of them. Any truly great studio would not tolerate this. I believe that every aspect of how a studio represents itself should support their mission (if they have one). A mission to train and develop serious committed actors who have the courage and desire to risk, and who have the grit and determination to play full out with themselves. This requires a faculty with exacting standards who have the capacity and talent to inspire a class to do just that.

I believe it is a privilege to teach and shape artists. When looking for a place to learn the wonderful art of acting, find an acting studio that strives to create a safe, nurturing environment, a home that will challenge and inspire you to do things you didn’t think were possible. A place to be continually surprised, nourished, and pushed.

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