“I ask you to come to class every day with three things,” Theatre Arts faculty member Silas Cooper says to drama students on the first day of class:
• An open mind — open to new ideas, experiences, ways of learning, and open to other people’s experiences;
• A brave heart — to be an artist takes courage; you must be brave enough to fail in front of others, brave enough to accept criticism, and brave enough to be vulnerable in front of strangers;
• A willing spirit — willing to try because the difference between being willing and being reluctant makes all the difference for an actor, especially one in training.
“To bring these things requires that you also do the following:
• Never treat anyone like a jerk. Once that happens, everyone’s defenses go up and everything you are working towards goes out the window. You can be on stage in the most contentious scene, but you still must respect the other actor. As soon as you treat someome like a jerk, you are telling the audience the other person is not worth listening to and the play falls apart. But this also goes for your own talent; do not disrespect your talent by not putting in the work necessary for it to develop.
• It is never about you. One of the biggest struggles actors face is getting rid of self-consciousness. How to do this is by focusing on the other person. If you are actively listening to the other actor, you are responding to him or her. It’s always about the story, it’s about what the other person makes you do. It is never about you.
• Leave yourself alone. You can’t be in the moment if you are worrying about your hair and make-up and what the audience thinks about you.
• Do it as you understand it. What you understand today will be different from what you understand a month from now. Be right here, right now, which is much harder that it seems.”