Cynthia Bassham Actor & Instructor
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studio act

Program Information

This comprehensive evening and weekend training program offers the highest-quality instruction in acting and other performance skills to adults in the Bay Area. Four 10-week sessions are offered each year, beginning in September, January, March, and June. Most classes meet once a week for three hours, and each session typically offers beginning to advanced-level classes in acting, scene study, improvisation, voice and speech, audition techniques,

Shakespeare, physical acting, playwriting, and singing. Instructors are working Bay Area theater artists who love to teach. Most Studio A.C.T. courses earn one semester hour of credit, and students receive a mid-session evaluation and a final grade from instructors.

Applicants must be at least 19 years old and high school graduates. Interviews are required for new students and for students re-entering the program.

Course Descriptions

SPEECH I is an actor's introduction to phonetics and ear training. Students work to identify individual challenges and speech habits that inhibit clear and effective verbal communication. This in-depth course introduces the International Phonetic Alphabet, invaluable for dialect work and the implementation of non-regionalized speech. Speech work is activated through the application of work on a monologue or sonnet. Basic text analysis is also covered. Voice I and Speech I must be taken together.

SPEECH II is the essential course for actors working with classical texts. This course includes further application of the International Phonetic Alphabet and concentrates on Standard American English as applied to advanced text work. Students also explore the Seven Points for Good Speech in Classic Plays, by Edith Skinner. Speech II prepares the serious acting student to compete in the professional classical theater arena. The prerequisite for this course is Speech I including a working knowledge of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Voice II and Speech II must be taken together.

VOICE I helps the actor to speak with more power, ease, conviction, and vocal range. Students explore various techniques to develop a richer, stronger, and more versatile speaking voice. Breathing exercises ensure the production of more sound with less effort and are the key to reducing vocal strain, improving tonal quality, and maintaining resonance. This course employs various physical training techniques and students should be prepared to at times move, lie on the floor, and employ actor-related techniques in order to activate the work. Work in this class complements the work in Speech I, and these courses must be taken together.

VOICE II continues the work begun in Voice I. The emphasis of this course is on maintaining the versatility and strength of the voice through the use of text. Students explore the personal expression of their voices as it applies to acting. The prerequisite to this class is Voice I. Voice II must be taken with Speech II.

ACT I acquaints students with the fundamental techniques and vocabulary of method-oriented acting. Through interactive exercises students acquire an approach to scripted material utilizing objectives, actions, obstacles, and personalization. This course culminates in scene work.

ACT II continues the work begun in ACT I and affords the student further opportunities to acquire and apply technique through scene work. A recent ACT I course or its equivalent is the prerequisite for this course.

ACT III provides students with advanced problem-solving techniques as more complex scene work is explored. This upper-level acting course may be repeated as often as desired. A recent ACT II course or its equivalent is the prerequisite for this course.

SCENE STUDY—ADVANCED prepares the acting student who is ready to develop an individual approach to dramatic text analysis, rehearsal techniques, and work habits through regular scene presentation and criticism. This twice-a-week course emphasizes ongoing scene work with selections from world dramatic literature focusing on the exploration of heightened language, characterization, and style. This course may be repeated as often as desired. A recent ACT III course or its equivalent is the prerequisite for this course.

ADVANCED STUDIO PROJECT matches students with a professional director in the creation, rehearsal, and performance of a full-length studio production. Performances are attended by invited audiences. An audition is required for this course.

SHAKESPEARE I provides a foundation in the essential physical, vocal, and emotional skills demanded by Shakespeare’s plays. Students learn the basics of text analysis and verse scansion while working on Shakespeare monologues and scenes. A recent ACT II course or its equivalent is the prerequisite for this course.

SHAKESPEARE SCENE STUDY—ADVANCED teaches students ways to address the more complex acting challenges posed within the context of ongoing Shakespeare scene presentation. Shakespeare I, or its equivalent, is the prerequisite for this course.

IMPROVISATION I & II explores the techniques of spontaneous theater utilizing the principles of Keith Johnstone (author of Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre and Impro for Storytellers). Exercises focus on spontaneity, remaining present, and the power of positive choice. Improvisation is a valuable tool for freeing the imagination, gaining confidence in auditions, and deepening emotional connection. Improvisation I is the prerequisite for Improvisation II.

AUDITION TECHNIQUES—ADVANCED examines problems that inhibit success throughout the audition. Students work on both general audition and call-back audition situations. Resumé preparation, headshots, and the business of acting are also covered. A recent ACT III course or its equivalent is the prerequisite for this course.

SINGING I helps beginning students discover their singing voices and affords more experienced singers an opportunity to exercise their vocal muscles through group and individual work utilizing the Garcia-Marchesi vocal tradition. This course may be taken as often as desired.

SINGING II is intended for students with previous Garcia-Marchesi training and is designed to determine and correct specific individual vocal problems. Singing I taken twice and Introduction to Music Reading or their equivalents are prerequisites for this course.

INTRODUCTION TO MUSIC READING is the first step in demystifying the written language of music. Students learn to read notes, decipher rhythms, and discover the principles of scales, tonalities, and transposition. Class work includes periodic quizzes, a final exam, and a final project. Some out-of-class study is necessary. No prior musical study or singing experience is required.

MUSICAL THEATER PERFORMANCE is designed to provide the singer/actor with an intensive, supportive learning environment in which to expand his or her knowledge of musical theater performance techniques. Some prior singing training is required and an audition is necessary. Class members work on scenes and songs from the musical theater repertoire, and the course culminates in a studio performance for an invited audience.

DYNAMIC MOVEMENT covers the fundamental mechanics of movement, emotional attitude, dramatic states of energy, characterization, and timing in an attempt to deepen awareness of the body as an instrument of expression.

PHYSICAL ACTING helps students develop physical characterizations through work with character masks, exploring the physical choices that bring masks to life. This course covers classical physical comedy traditions incorporating the lazzi (stock comic bits and routines) of commedia dell’arte, stock comic characterizations, and object manipulation.

ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE is a movement system that explores the efficient use of the actor's primary tools: the voice and the physical body. Students learn to identify and change the habits that interfere with physical ease, freedom, and control. Some monologue work is required.

More Info?....

For more information about Studio ACT, click here.

Additional class information:

Seydways Acting Studios | Fitzmaurice Voicework® | Private Coaching

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