The concept of acting at the Richard Lawson Studios is loosely based upon the fundamental principles as conceived and developed by Milton Katselas. The approach is based upon moment-to-moment spontaneous work that is inspired by imagination, passion, and purpose, driven by a sense of reality, intelligence, and common sense, grounded in the patience to listen, the willingness to be affected, and the courage to ask the next question. Drawing from Stella Adler who said, “I don’t teach actors to be actors, I teach people to be people,” I embody a similar philosophy. I try to get the actor to be as personal (drawing from the circumference of their own life experience) as possible, even though they may sometimes be playing characters far removed from themselves so that what they create will be original and unique, as it is coming from them and it is what they know best. As the Latin verb to educate, educere, means to “lead out”, it is my intention to lead the artist out so they can have, as Martha Graham says, “the gift of themselves.” The ideal path of study at the Richard Lawson Studios is to take both the scene study class and the Professional Development Program (PDP) simultaneously. Scene study will teach you how to do the job, while PDP will teach you how to get the job. Environmental exercises, picture exercises, song and dance exercises, improvisation, stand-up, and other exercise models will be used on an individual basis to supplement and support what is discovered through scene study. It’s important to build strength where strength exists, so identifying one’s first circle of casting is important.
THE THREE MAIN AREAS OF FOCUS
The development of one’s craft by acquiring a set of tools through a variety of exercises and scene work that gives an artist confidence and certainty. In addition, gaining clarity about what one is working on and why.
The management of your business; the direction and application of your plan. One cannot administrate a career unless one has a plan. You have to know where you’re going, why you’re going there, and what you want to achieve. If you have clarity about these things, then you can create a concise plan and a definitive map to make it happen. Administration is what you do on a daily basis to accomplish your goals.
A state of mind or a feeling; disposition; a frame of mind affecting one’s thoughts or behavior. As a teacher and a working actor for the last 40 years, I can unequivocally say that the most significant barrier between success and failure is attitude. Most failure is not the result of a lack of talent or a lack of opportunities, or any one of the “TOO” Syndromes (too fat, too tall, too old, too thin, too ethnic, etc.). It is most often the direct result of a bad or negative attitude. ATTITUDE MONITORS TALENT. One must be able to manage the highs and lows, the roller coaster of this business. What one perceives as rejection has to become a source of motivation. One must be willing to consistently get up every time one feels knocked down. You must be willing and determined to make things go right. You must develop the attitude of a professional and keep showing up, no matter what. The show must go on…with a smile on your face and a determination to make it the best experience possible. After 40 years, I’m having more fun than anyone else. This is still a vacation for me.