Marc Durso, one of the nation's leading teachers, will host a free acting workshop at Roadside Theater March 5 and 6 at 7:00 pm. Only a limited number of people will be active participants in the workshop for the two evenings, working directly with Marc in exercises. But there is no limit to the number of participants who can watch the process, ask questions, and learn from the workshop. Please study the material on these and the following pages before you come to the workshop!

Marc Durso is a Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers Associate and a member of Actor's Equity. He has directed in Los Angeles, New York and Miami, assisted directors Tony Stephens, Ann Reinking, Alan Arkin and Charles Nelson Reily and Impresario James A. Doolittle on productions of the Kirov, ABT, Joffrey and ROCKETTES dance companies. Through his company, ActTrue.com, Marc now teaches the Hagen Object Exercises in the Miami Entertainment Market, as well as throughout the United States.

Marc Durso writes:

Action is Truth
ACT Accomplish, achieve, attain, bring about, carry out
TRUE Authentic, actual, factual, faithful, precise, undistorted

Acting is undeniable action and imaginative living that is so truthful, so passionate, so clear, that it engages the mind and spirit of the audience, till they breathe with your character. High standards? A lot to shoot for?  Absolutely!  Art. Why do it any other way! Julie Harris, Robert De Niro, Uta Hagen, Henry Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Gary Oldman, from the Greeks Polus to our greatest artists, all have drawn from human experience AND imagination to create powerful characters.

We are called actors, not "feelers" or "emoters" or "posers". We DO! Because that s what makes human beings. We are in action, with goals, objectives, expectations of success. We "feel" because we have set ourselves in motion, in action. Emotion is a result of the actions we take. We live within a world of circumstances, of place, of time, of relationship, NOT LINES! Young actors standing in hallways outside of camera classes practicing their lines, trying to find "interesting ways" of saying them, are working from a false premise, that it has something to do with lines.

The legendary Master Teacher Sanford Meisner said, "An ounce of behavior is worth a ton of words." And it is behavior that we investigate in our work: the Hagen Object Exercises. Stanislavski s premise, "Action with thought is behavior" is the basis for our approach to text. My teaching is grounded in the unshakable integrity of the Hagen Process of creating truthful human behavior.

As both a student of Master Teacher/Tony Award winner Uta Hagen and then as her associate director on a NY premiere, I have specific professional experience with the application of the Ten Object Exercises to the professional work environment. Ten Exercises that free the actor into action, who lives within the exciting imaginary circumstances of the work, without the inhibiting weight of predetermined emotional choices.  This "weight", this decision as to "How I will Feel" is the false premise that so often leads young actors to inactivity, to sensations as proof of truth, and which draws that actor away from the action of the script and of their character and from the other actors.

My work, with legendary Broadway actors and directors Uta Hagen, Julie Harris, Fritz Weaver, Charles Nelson Reilly, Alan Arkin, Tony Stevens, Ann Reinking and with union actors in the Los Angeles and Miami Film/TV markets, has clarified my understanding of action as character.  The Object Exercises focus on the cause and effect of thought in every second of living.  And each exercise addresses specific, real world challenges that every actor must face, and all relating to focus.  Without that focus there can be no trust in the imaginary, and it's all imaginary.  Focus is only possible through relaxation, which the Exercises nurture in the actor through Doing, through investigating behavior over and over, more deeply, with greater detail, each time the Exercises are presented.  This creates a "history", experience, that bridges the classroom to professional work environment. 

Developed by Uta Hagen through the challenges of her own legendary Broadway career and her fifty years of teaching top New York actors at HB Studios and throughout the world, these are ten specific exercises which reveal the thought impulse of all action. Ten investigations of human behavior that support the actor s imaginative belief in every second of life on camera and stage.

Physical Destination: Tests the cause of action
Fourth Side: Tests the ability to imaginatively maintain faith in the character s physical world
Changes of Self: Explores the many aspects of our persona
Moment to Moment: Tests the ability to repeat rehearsed actions as if for the first time
Recreating Physical Sensations: Tests the ability to produce sensations according to the physical demands of the script s realities
Bringing the Outdoors On Stage: Tests ability to recall and recreate physical adjustments to nature
Finding Occupation While Waiting: Tests the body s experience while pursuing a psychological goal
Talking to Yourself: Investigates the need/cause of speech when alone
Talking to the Audience: Tests the creation of imagined relationship with the camera or audience
Historical Imagination: The culmination and application of all previous exercises which test our ability to believe in the "other" worlds of the writer.

Paralleling the Hagen Exercises, I also use the LINKLATER VOICE PROCESS, developed by renowned voice teacher Kristin Linklater at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Her process is used by theatre companies and university theatre programs throughout the world.  This physical investigation of sound on breath frees the natural voice of every human being. Relaxation exercises allow contact with freely expressed impulses, impulses of imagery that spur the production of truthful sound.

I utilize this highly respected process to address the issues of tension and inhibition of breath which inhibits creativity, caused by the pressures of the work environment. This process develops in the actor the ability to recognize and release tension which allows for spontaneous creative action in his work. This is a vital component of an actor s overall acting technique: the ability to relax into trust, and creativity. Only then can the highest aspects of their intelligence and personality color the character they are portraying and engage an audience on a deeper level.

My work in the professional acting markets focuses my attention on the demands placed on the Film/TV actor.  I apply the Hagen and Linklater processes directly to the Camera.  I have developed specific imagination exercises that draw on circumstances and material from union auditions.  This again gives the actor "experience", a sense of "I've been Here" and thus, "I can do this".  Confidence, belief in one's own uniqueness and power is not a gift, it is not an aspect of talent, it only acquired through "Doing". 

Let me quote from a Backstage West interview, Feb. 12, 1998, with Award winning Director Sydney Pollack, (who was also a teaching assistant to legendary Master Teacher Sanford Meisner): "...behavior is the key...doing is the operative word. Acting is doing. The great misconceptions is that it s about saying things--that it s about the way you read lines....In fact, the last thing that happens in performance is speech. Everything else comes first, and is the real part of the iceberg. It holds everything up. Acting is doing something...and the emotion sometimes expresses itself verbally. It s (emotion) the last thing in a chain of events. And it s very hard to convince people that that s where the search always has to be: for the behavior..."

I invite you to join me in that search.

For this workshop: Prepare Exercise #1 for class. If you have Uta Hagen's book, please be familiar with Exercises #2 and #3 for possible assignment in the workshop.

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