When I attended NIDA my acting teacher in the first year was George Whaley, an actor of many years experience who was a dynamic and exciting person and teacher. He made each lesson crackle with energy and as a consequence made the process of learning fascinating and exhilarating. He told us that he could teach us a method of acting in five minutes, but it would take us a lifetime to really put it into practice, or words to that effect.
At the time, as a young student, I didn’t really get what he was saying, dismissing it as the burblings that anybody old, ie anybody over the age of forty, delighted in uttering. Today, having had over thirty years experience as a professional actor, I do get what he was saying. I understand how fundamentally simple and how fiendishly elusive good acting is in any field -be it theatre, film, television or musicals. I understand it because of my professional experience. I understand it because I have encountered my own obstacles when trying to deliver a good performance in all those fields and discovered a myriad of ways to adapt the method I was taught so that it helped me in each new situation.
That is why I believe it is vital that you seek someone with a great deal of professional experience when you look for a teacher who will help you in your own exploration of the performer in you. Look for someone who has applied the knowledge they are passing on to you again and again in a real world situation so that they have a thorough understanding of it and how to apply it. Choose someone who has consistently performed at a highly professional level if you want quality lessons. Be wary of learning from someone who has a tertiary qualification but has had little or no experience in how to apply that qualification in a professional environment- they will have a very narrow understanding of how to fully nurture and release the performer in you.
Having said all that, not all good professional performers are good teachers. In fact, in my experience, most of them aren’t. They know how to deliver a consistently good performance themselves but don’t have the skills to impart that knowledge in a way that makes it work for others. That is why you need to seek teachers who have both the professional experience and a demonstrated track record of high quality teaching in their field.
That is precisely what we offer at PAPA. I have performed professionally in 25 musicals, including one which only recently finished a season at the Regal Theatre in Subiaco – a role I primarily took on to ensure my professional experience is contemporary (another thing to watch out for when choosing a teacher) and numerous theatre, television and film productions. I have devised and performed in many cabaret and music hall productions and have written and/or directed many full length shows for various organizations such as MSWA, John Curtin College of the Arts, St. Johns Ambulance and The Gilbert And Sullivan Society of WA. I was highly regarded as Head of Music Theatre at The Principal Academy of Dance and Theatre Arts for 8 years and, along with my wonderful partner in PAPA, Imogen, have conducted highly successful acting and music theatre workshops for students in Perth and regional centers throughout WA. I personally have been fortunate enough to conduct large scale workshops in acting and music theatre for hundreds of students in China.
If you attend classes at PAPA you will receive high quality tuition that is backed up by a huge amount of professional experience. You will receive that tuition in a caring, supportive and nurturing environment from teachers that are always working hard to help guide you in your personal journey of growth and discovery. You will receive ample and equal opportunity to put your training into practice by exploring roles or songs and routines on stage. Most of all, you will have a great time exploring the creative you.