Our flagship Teacher Development Program returns in 2018 for its 21st year and expands to two sessions: May 21-June 1 in Los Angeles, devoted to physical approaches to actor training, presented in collaboration with the USC School of Dramatic Arts; and June 4-15 in New York, devoted to exploring innovative and complementary approaches to the work of Stanislavski, presented in collaboration with NYU Tisch School of the Arts Department of Drama. Join us on either coast for an inspiring and revitalizing 12 days devoted to the craft of teaching acting alongside a cadre of exceptional and internationally recognized faculty.
Physical Approaches to Actor Training
Joanna Merlin, Michael Chekhov
Stephen Wangh, Grotowski & Pedagogy
David Bridel, Clown
Alexandra Billings, Viewpoints
Hugh O’Gorman, Michael Chekhov
Stanislavski & Beyond
Slava Dolgachev, Technique & Analysis
Peter Jay Fernandez, Scene Study
Jane Nichols, Games
Gregory Wallace, Technique
Ron Van Lieu, Guest Seminar
Application deadline for both programs is April 1, 2018. Admission is made on a rolling basis, so we encourage you to apply early. Complete program information, faculty bios, tuition, scholarship, and application details below.
Our Teacher Development Program provides a rare opportunity for established acting teachers and professional actors interested in teaching to return to the classroom under the guidance of masters of the field.
In the two-week intensive, participants study as acting students, but with an eye toward the craft of teaching. Through the exploration of multiple methodologies and pedagogical practices, the program provides teaching artists a fertile and rigorous environment to broaden their landscape of technique, develop their diagnostic eye, and hone their ability to teach to the individual, while learning to cultivate an instructional atmosphere tailored to imaginative and creative risk-taking.
Everyone works on their feet, every day. Questions are answered in “the doing.” Issues of teaching practice are examined first through experience, then through discussion. The result is a one-of-a-kind program that nurtures the highest artistic standards and offers participants the opportunity to refine their voice as a teaching artist, elevate their practice, and reconnect with their passion for the craft of acting.
Presented in collaboration with
The 2018 Teacher Development Program in Los Angeles offers a two-week immersion in a variety of psychophysical acting techniques. Exploring the dialectic between “Inside-Out” and “Outside-In” approaches to actor training, this highly physical, boundary-bending intensive provides world-class pedagogical training in time-tested psychophysical methodologies. Participants will be introduced to some of the most respected teachers in the field, whose work encompasses the methodologies of Jerzy Grotowski, the Viewpoints, Michael Chekhov and Clown. The collective aim of these individual yet complementary acting techniques is to release the actor’s creative individuality via a kinesthetic dialogue with the body, imagination and spirit. The workshop addresses both the essential elements necessary to practice these techniques, as well as teach them.
This year’s TDP Los Angeles faculty will include Joanna Merlin (NYU Graduate Acting and President of the Michael Chekhov Association), Stephen Wangh (NYU Experimental Theatre Wing and Author), David Bridel (Dean of USC School of Dramatic Arts and founder of The Clown School), Alexandra Billings (Amazon’s Transparent and Goliath, and USC School of Dramatic Arts), and Hugh O’Gorman (Head of Acting CSU Long Beach, Faculty Member of the Michael Chekhov Association).
Classes will take place on the USC campus, Monday through Friday from 10:00am to 10:00pm with additional classes on Saturday morning.
The 2018 Teacher Development Program in New York offers a two-week intensive devoted to varietals of the acting technique and complementary methodologies espoused by Konstantin Stanislavski, whose seminal “System” has served as the foundation and inspiration for generations of actors, acting teachers, and training programs alike. This immersive workshop invites established teachers, as well as accomplished actors starting on the path of teaching, to re-explore his System through multiple lenses. Participants will work alongside some of the most respected acting teachers in the field exploring process, text analysis, scene-study, exercise work, pedagogy, games, and playing action as taught by Earle Gister. The program aims to awaken the performer’s creativity and imagination, while simultaneously developing and expanding the teaching artist’s tool box.
This year’s TDP New York faculty will include Slava Dolgachev (Russian Director, Moscow New Drama Theatre, Moscow Art Theatre), Peter Jay Fernandez (Actor, Co-Head of Acting at The New School), Jane Nichols (Teacher, Yale, Juilliard, Brown, ART, ACT, Emerson) and Gregory Wallace (Yale School of Drama, formerly Head of Graduate Acting at UCSD). Ron Van Lieu (Columbia University, formerly Head of Acting at Yale and NYU) will join the TDP for a guest seminar.
Classes will take place on the campus of New York University, Monday through Friday from 10:00am to 10:00pm with additional classes on Saturday morning.
Please submit all materials by April 1, 2018.
Enrollment is limited. Admission is made on a rolling basis to give applicants time to secure funding, so we encourage you to apply early. Applications will be considered until all positions are filled.
Admission is based on your stated personal approach to the actor’s process, your training and professional experience, and your demonstrated interest in personal and professional development. To apply, please prepare the following items and attach on the application form at the bottom of this page.
Tuition for the 2018 Teacher Development Program is $3,800.
Some education institutions and foundations have funds available to support faculty in professional development. We encourage all participants to explore these avenues for financial support. Discounts are available for current members of the National Alliance of Acting Teachers and alumni of the program.
Participants are responsible for their own housing accommodations.
In 2017, we launched three new professional development fellowships for acting teachers providing full scholarship to the program. Applications for these fellowships must be submitted by March 19, 2018.
In addition, we offer a limited number of partial scholarships for adjunct faculty, instructors, and coaches without access to professional development funding. We also offer need-based and merit-based scholarships to individuals who would otherwise not be able to attend. In order to be eligible for scholarships, individuals should first submit their application to the Teacher Development Program. Subsequently, please write to Managing Director, Alex Birnie at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about scholarship availability.
The Teacher Development Program originated at The Actors Center in New York in 1996. In the 20 years since its inception the program has graduated more than 240 alumni, many of whom are now teaching at premier institutions across the country. Founded by J. Michael Miller, the program’s four initial faculty included Earle Gister, Michael Kahn, Lloyd Richards, and Ron Van Lieu. In 2017, the program expanded to the west coast for the first time and now continues on both coasts each summer.
Over the years, TDP faculty and guest speakers have included:
Sharon Marie Carnicke
Peter Jay Fernandez
Ron Van Lieu
TDP Los Angeles Faculty
Alexandra Billings is an actress, singer, author, teacher and activist.
Currently, Billings plays Davina on Amazon’s Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning hit TV show Transparent and will appear in the upcoming second season of Amazon series Goliath opposite Billy Bob Thornton.
She has also appeared on How To Get Away With Murder, Grey’s Anatomy and the Amazon series Goliath, starring Billy Bob Thornton. In 2005, Billings played Donna, opposite Katherine Heigel, in the ABC film Romy and Michelle: A New Beginning. It was the second time a transgender actress played a transgender character in the history of television. She’s had guest starring roles on How To Get Away With Murder, Grey’s Anatomy, Eli Stone, E.R., Karen Sisco, Nurses opposite Lynn Redgrave, and playing opposite Dot Jones in the Ryan Murphy pilot Pretty/Handsome, co-starring Blythe Danner and Robert Wagner. Her first feature film role as a non-trans character, Valley of Bones, debuted in the fall of 2017.
Billings has been acting since 1968 and has performed across the United States in hundreds of plays and musicals. She’s played everyone from Mama Rose in Gypsy to Mrs. Lynde in A Doll House. Most every stage role is considered to be a first for a transgender actress. Her one-woman autobiographical show, Before I Disappear, toured from Chicago to Boston to Los Angeles, and finally off-Broadway at The Producer’s Club, winning rave reviews and running for over 10 years. She originated the role of Alejandra in Time to Burn by Charles Mee at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago and toured to off-Broadway in Jeff Richmond and Michael Thomas’ camp classic, Hamlet! The Musical! Her album Being Alive, produced by Ralph Lampkin, Jr., was up for Grammy consideration in 2002.
She is the recipient of five After Dark Awards and one Joseph Jefferson Award.
Billings’ activism stretches across the continent. She has won the TPA Award and the Rainbow Spirit Award, and she was inducted into the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in Chicago in 2007. She has been living with AIDS since 1995. Her life story From Schoolboy to Showgirl, produced by Alex Silets for PBS television, was nominated for an Emmy for best documentary.
TDP Los Angeles Faculty
David Bridel was appointed dean of the USC School of Dramatic Arts on April 15, 2016. He is the inaugural holder of the Braverman Family Dean’s Chair. Prior to his appointment as dean, he served as interim dean of the School of Dramatic Arts (2015-2016), associate dean of global initiatives (2013-2015), and director of the school’s MFA in Acting program (2014-2016).
An accomplished director, choreographer, playwright, librettist and performer, Dean Bridel’s work in these disciplines has been seen at the Mark Taper Forum, the Odyssey Theater, the Ford Amphitheatre, the Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble and the Broad Stage in Los Angeles; the BMI Musical Workshop and the Bound for Broadway series in New York; at Shakespeare & Company and Barrington Stage in Mass.; the Roy Hart Theatre in Malerargues, France; the TEDxUSC conference 2012 and TEDxBeijing 2014; in opera houses in Los Angeles, Paris, Vienna, Munich, Mexico City, Guanajuato, Santiago and Madrid; on screen (PBS’ Great Performances series and ABC’s Dancing With the Stars); and at universities, festivals and theatres in the U.S., U.K., Israel, China, Hong Kong, Australia, Austria and Brazil – including the Beijing Film Academy, the National Theatre of China and at the Stanislavsky Institute in Sao Paulo.
Under his leadership, the School is prioritizing new contemporary programs, an emphasis on new media, professional partnerships, and a focus on equity and inclusion. He was previously the director of the MFA in Acting program.
Bridel’s original plays Lunatics and Actors , I Gelosi and Sublimity are published by Original Works Press (Sublimity, Bridel’s solo performance, won the Best Satire Award at the 2013 United Solo Festival in New York). He is also the winner of an ARC grant from the Center for Cultural Initiatives, a cultural engagement grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs, an Entertainment Weekly Special Events Award, a NYFA Fiction Award, an Anna Sosenko Musical Theater Award, and a Zumberge Award for his research project, Clowns Across Continents. He also co-authored the recent book Clowns: In Conversation With Modern Masters, published by Routledge, and his adaptation of Doctor Faustus, directed by Andre Belgrader, performed at Classic Stage Company in New York in 2015.
Dean Bridel has contributed to American Theatre magazine and he is the founding and artistic director of The Clown School in Los Angeles, the only studio in the city devoted exclusively to the study and practice of clowning, officially partnered with Improv First in Beijing and the Stanislavsky Institute in Brazil.
TDP New York Faculty
Viacheslav Dolgachev is regarded as one of Russia’s leading theater directors. He has directed over 50 productions in every major theater in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as in major cities in Russia and abroad. He is a recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the title of “Distinguished Artist of Russia” (Russia’s highest award for a theater director, presented by the President of the Russian Federation).
From 1990 to 2000, Mr. Dolgachev served as a leading director of Moscow Art Theatre, where he directed such notable productions as After Rehearsal (Ingmar Bergman, for which he received the 1998 national “Golden Mask” Award), Melpomena’s Tales (Anton Chekhov), Bobok (Fyodor Dostoyevsky), Toybele and Her Demons (Isaac Zinger), Impossible Encounter (Paul Bartz), The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (Tennesee Williams), and The Light Shines in Darkness (Leo Tolstoy).
In 2001, Mr. Dolgachev assumed the position of Artistic Director of Moscow New Drama Theatre (MNDT). Some of his notable productions at MNDT include Nastasya Filippovna (based on “Idiot” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky; winner of the 2009 Grand Prix Award at the International Dostoyevsky Theater Festival), The Robbers (Friedrich Schiller), Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur (Tennessee Williams), One of the Last Carnival Nights (Carlo Goldoni), Ages of the Moon (Sam Shepard).
Besides a distinguished career as a director, Viacheslav Dolgachev is an internationally recognized educator. He has taught acting and directing at the School of the Moscow Art Theatre; International Theatre Institute in Pontremoly, Italy; Columbia University, New York University, Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting and The Actors Center in New York; Roosevelt University and the University of Illinois in Chicago; Portland University in Portland, Oregon; and The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
TDP New York Faculty
Peter Jay Fernandez is currently co-head of acting at The New School for Drama. He is a two time Audelco winner and has appeared on Broadway in productions of All The Way, Cyrano De Bergerac; Julius Caesar; Henry IV; Jelly’s Last Jam; and The Merchant Of Venice. Off-Broadway credits include Macbeth (Theatre for a New Audience), Father Comes Home From the Wars, As You Like It, Coriolanus, The Winter’s Tale, Henry VIII, Spell #7 (Public Theatre), Red Speedo (New York Theatre Workshop), Zooman and the Sign (Signature), Too Much Memory (Fourth St. Theater), The Pain and The Itch (Playwrights Horizons), Thunder Knocking On The Door (Minetta Lane), RICHARD III: Born with Teeth and Widowers’ Houses (Epic Theatre), among many others.
He has worked throughout the United States at regional theatres including Arena Stage, Goodman Theatre, Old Globe, Long Wharf Theatre, Hartford Stage, McCarter Theatre, Seattle Rep, Williamstown, Alliance Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Geva, The Wilma, among others.
Peter’s film and television credits include Shades of Blue, Luke Cage, Royal Pains, Gotham, Elementary, House of Cards, Fringe, Deception, Damages, Law and Order(s), The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, Body of Proof, The Adjustment Bureau, Preaching To The Choir, and Funny Valentines.
TDP Los Angeles Faculty
Joanna Merlin is an actor, teacher and former casting director, and the last living student of Michael Chekhov. She is a faculty member at New York University’s Graduate Acting program at the Tisch School of the Arts and has served as President of MICHA, the Michael Chekhov Association since its founding in 1999.
As a Casting Director, she is the recipient of two Casting Society of America Artios Awards for casting Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor and Sondheim’s Into the Woods. As Harold Prince’s casting director, she cast the original Broadway productions of Sondheim’s Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, and Merrily We Roll Along, as well as Evita, Candide, and On the Twentieth Century, among others.
As an actor, her several Broadway credits include Becket opposite Laurence Olivier, A Far Country with Kim Stanley, and Fiddler on the Roof in which she created the role of Tzeitel, Tevye’s eldest daughter. Films include Sarah’s Key, The Wackness, Invasion, City of Angels, Class Action, Mystic Pizza, Fame, The Killing Fields, The Ten Commandments and recently, Active Adults on Amazon. She has appeared on “The Good Wife”, “Homeland” and had a recurring role on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” as Judge Petrovsky for 11 seasons.
Joanna is a co-founder of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts (formerly the Non-Traditional Casting Project) and was a member of the Tony Awards Nominating Committee. Her book, Auditioning: An Actor-Friendly Guide, was published by Vintage in May, 2001, is still in print. The Spanish translation was released in 2016 in Madrid.
TDP New York Faculty
Jane Nichols is an actress, director, and teacher. Her work brings together skills and techniques of Improvisation, Mask, Le Jeu, Physical Comedy, Clown, and Bouffon. She has studied with Philippe Gaulier (Ecole Gaulier), Clive Mendes (Theatre Complicite), Ronlin Foreman (DellArte School of Physical Theatre), Michael Kennard (co-founder of Canada’s Mump & Smoot, and Master teacher of the Richard Pochinko native American mask/clown technique), Avner Eisenberg (Avner the Eccentric), Davis Robinson (author of Physical Comedy Handbook), Keith Johnstone (Impro and Impro for Storytellers), Bolek Polivka, and Merry Conway, and has been associated for 30 years with Shakespeare & Co in Lenox, MA.
She was the Founder and Artistic Director of Crosswalk Theatre in Boston, and served for five years as Artistic Director of Children’s programming for Shakespeare & Co. She has taught at the Yale School of Drama, Juilliard, Harvard University, American Repertory Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Stella Adler Conservatory, The Actors Center in NYC, Shakespeare & Co, Emerson College, Lesley College Graduate School, Simon’s Rock College of Bard, and University of Washington.
As an actor, Jane has worked Off-Broadway with En Garde Arts, New Georges and Synapse Co, and regionally with Dallas Theatre Center, Portland Stage, Gloucester Stage, Shakespeare & Co, Lyric Stage, Nora Theatre, and Berkshire Public. Her film and TV credits include School Ties, Heights, Law & Order SVU, Ed, America’s Most Wanted, and Rachel’s Dinner with Olympia Dukakis.
Her directing credits include productions with Seattle University, Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle Shakespeare Co. Brown University, Washington Ensemble Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Harvard University, Crosswalk Theatre, a development project for Cirque du Soleil, and numerous productions with the Shakespeare & Co. schools program.
TDP Los Angeles Faculty
Hugh O’Gorman is an actor, director and writer active in professional theatre for 25 years; since 2002 he has been the Head of Acting at California State University Long Beach where he oversees the BA and MFA actor training programs. Hugh has appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway and at over a dozen of the nation’s most respected Regional Theatres and Shakespeare Festivals. He is a founding member of New York City’s Mint Theatre Company (2002 Drama Desk Award). For four years Hugh portrayed Jeff Singer on AMC’s critically acclaimed, Emmy and CableAce award-winning show Remember WENN (SAG Award nomination). Other television: HBO’s multiple Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning John Adams, for CBS Still Standing, That’s Life, and for NBC The 10th Kingdom, Law & Orderand ER. Film: Killers, Upstate, The Bend. Hugh is the author of the book “The Keys to Acting”; he is also a faculty member of MICHA: the Michael Chekhov Association and has his own acting studio in Los Angeles, The Praxis Studio. Hugh earned a BA from Cornell University and MFA in Acting from the University of Washington. www.hughogorman.com
TDP New York Guest Speaker
Ron Van Lieu was the Master Teacher of Acting and eventually Chair of the NYU Graduate Acting Program where he taught from 1975 to 2004. In 2004 he was appointed the Lloyd Richards Professor of Acting and Chair of the Acting Program at the Yale School of Drama where he taught until 2017. He now serves a Professor of Professional Practice on the faculty of Columbia University.
Ron trained at New York University Tisch School of the Arts. His acting credits include major regional theaters, leading roles off-Broadway, New York Shakespeare Festival, The Public Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, and a member of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s acting company. His directing credits include productions at Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theater, Syracuse Stage, the Greer Garson Theater in Santa Fe, and over 50 productions at the NYU Graduate Acting Program. In 1993 he was awarded the New York University Distinguished Teaching Medal, the university’s highest award given in recognition of outstanding achievement in classroom teaching.
In addition to his university work, Ron is a founding faculty member of both The Shakespeare Lab at the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater where he headed the actor training for 10 years, as well as The Actors Center in New York where continues to teach both professional actors as well as teachers of acting. Students who have trained with Ron over the past 43 years have won every major award in the field of theater and acting including the Pulitzer Prize, the Academy Award, Tonys, Drama Desk Awards, Golden Globes, Emmys, Obies, etc. Ron serves on the Advisory Council of the National Alliance of Acting Teachers.
TDP New York Faculty
Gregory Wallace is a Professor in the Practice of Acting at the Yale School of Drama. He is an actor, director, and teaching artist with over 40 years of experience in the professional theatre. His career includes numerous appearances on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and in regional theatres, where he has worked with some of the leading directors in the American theatre, including John Doyle, Adrian Hall, Israel Hicks, Mark Lamos, Irene Lewis, Austin Pendleton, Carey Perloff, Lisa Peterson, John Rando, Mark Rucker, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson.
For 12 years, he was a member of the resident acting company at American Conservatory Theater, where his credits included “Kevin” in Clybourne Park, “Ogun” in Marcus: Or The Secret Of Sweet, “Tzara” in Travesties, “Caesar” in Gem of the Ocean, “Krogstad” in A Doll’s House, “Kulygin” in The Three Sisters, “Estragon” in Waiting for Godot, “Willie” in Master Harold… and the Boys, and “Belize” in Angels in America.
As an actor, he’s been involved in the development of new plays such as Robert O’Hara’s Insurrection: Holding History, Peter Parnell’s The Cider House Rules, Philip Kan Gotanda’s After The War, and Lillian Groag’s War Music.
While at A.C.T., he was a core faculty member in the MFA Acting program, teaching courses in Contemporary Scene Study, Acting Chekhov, and Heightened Language in Action. He also directed a number of productions for the Conservatory, including plays by Eugene O’Neill, Sophocles, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Anton Chekhov, and Georges Feydeau.
From 2011-2016, he served as Head of Graduate Acting at University of California, San Diego. He received his BFA in Acting through the Stella Adler Conservatory at New York University and his MFA in Acting at the Yale School of Drama.
TDP Los Angeles Faculty
Stephen Wangh is a playwright, director, and teacher of acting. He is Arts Professor Emeritus at NYU, where he taught acting in the Experimental Theatre Wing for 20 years.
Steve studied with Jerzy Grotowski in his first American workshop in 1967. He is the author of An Acrobat of the Heart, a physical approach to acting inspired by the work of Jerzy Grotowski, and leads an annual two-week immersion in Grotowski-based training in the Berkshires.
Following his time at NYU, Steve spent seven years as a Guest Faculty at the MFA Theater: Contemporary Performance program at Naropa University where he taught physical acting and pedagogy and in 2012 he published his second book, The Heart of Teaching: Empowering Students in the Performing Arts.
Steve regularly lectures and leads Grotowski and Pedagogy workshops throughout the United States and internationally, including recently in Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia, among others.
Steve is the author of 15 plays. He was one of the writers of The People’s Temple (Glickman award), associate writer for The Laramie Project (Emmy nomination), and dramaturge of Moisés Kaufman’s Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde.
Photo by Alexander Berg
“I cannot express in words how inspiring, thought-provoking, stimulating and fulfilling the program was last June. You cannot put a price on or name to what I learned in the classroom.”
California State University, Long Beach
“You have given me a renewed commitment and perspective. You have given me a deeper understanding of my place and of my work. A vigorous assertion back toward my ideals and what I truly love and find rewarding. It has been a redefining of my artistic self. It is, in essence, a truly valuable second chance.”
“To people who have asked, I say that walking into a master’s class is like walking onto a tennis court, thinking you can play a little tennis, and then Roger Federer walks in on the other side. Often what I learned was not about what was taught, but how it was taught. Master teachers don’t earn that designation simply because they have been teaching for a long time, but because they are that much better at what they do.”
Texas Tech University
“Simply put, the five summers I spent in The Actors Center Teacher Development Program rank among the most important acting experiences I’ve had. For any acting teacher, nascent or seasoned, serious about improving their approach toward, eye for, and understanding of the actor’s work this program is de rigueur.”
California State University, Long Beach
“All the classes were tremendously stimulating, and I know my work will benefit and be informed by those experiences for years to come. I hope that when I get back to teaching this season, I’ll be able to pass on at least some of those traditions that Ron, Chris and Slava embody. Thank you for an experience I will always cherish.”
Actor/Teacher, Actors Theatre of Louisville
“Easily the best training I’ve encountered anywhere. The two weeks of exceptional teaching, vital discussion, and intensive hands-on work continue to inspire me on a daily basis, and the connections I made with the talented and dedicated theatre artists who were my classmates have been strong and surprisingly lasting. I was challenged, encouraged, and renewed.”
University of Arkansas