All of Life is a Stage – Improv is a Lesson for Life
By Esmee Tijdeman
Here’s a chance for every New Yorker to experience what it’s like to be an actor on Broadway. It’s also an opportunity to develop life skills that can help any person become more engaging at work or play.
The not-for-profit, Artistic New Directions, is organizing weekly classes throughout September to introduce acting and improv techniques to anyone who wants to become a better communicator or actor.
“These workshops are open to improvisors of all levels,” said Scotty Watson – an improvisor and workshop instructor. “We follow a series of fun themes to help you develop new tools and approaches for your work. These lessons will improve your overall delivery and communications skills that you can also use at work.”
New Yorkers can learn acting and improv techniques from some of the biggest names in entertainment, including the mind behind Pee-Wee Herman, a director to Tina Fey and a performer from the Late Show with David Letterman.
The not-for-profit organization, Artistic New Directions, is trying to bring the performing arts to the masses.
These are not typical acting classes. They are 2-hour workshops open to all levels – aspiring or professional actors, even curious professionals interested in learning how to better engage people in the work force.
The workshop instructors teaching at Artistic New Directions are well-established names in theater and acting.
One of the instructors, Gary Austin, is credited with helping develop the fictional character, Peewee Herman, portrayed by comedian Paul Reubens. Gary has also directed hundreds of successful actor/improvisers including Helen Hunt, Lisa Kudrow, Helen Slater and Lillias White.
Another instructor, Michael Gellman, has directed and taught major actor/improvisers including Bill Murray, Chris Farley, Tina Fey and Dave Pasquesi, among others. He is Senior Faculty at Chicago’s Second City Training Center and at Columbia College in Chicago and will be sharing his techniques with students.
Watson, who is a former member of The Second City Canadian National Touring Company, is Head of Artistic New Directions’ New York Faculty. He says this workshop will bring together some of the biggest names in improv and acting. Watson himself has performed in Canada and the U.S. with Ed Asner, Eric Stoltz and Gerard Depardieu, and on the Late Show with David Letterman.
“We have all kinds of students take our workshops,” Watson said. “We have a CEO of a major lending organization who is a former student. And we’ve had aspiring students and professional actors all take our courses, trying to improve their delivery.”
Students who go through this training could be eligible for a performance intensive course in November.