What a treat. Yesterday afternoon longtime colleague Dom Chianese visited with students at our CenterStage rehearsal space.
Dom became a member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre in the late seventies, invited by Curt Dempster to come,join the ensemble and share the work.
I joined the theatre at about the same time and have known Dom ever since... from before the Godfather films and the long and distinguished life of Junior Soprano.
With ease, grace, candor and warmth, Dom engaged the students with the stories of his life as an artist. From his time studying with Walt Witcover, to Philip Burton to the set of Godfather 2 with Francis Ford Coppola, Dom shared the the steps in deepening and simplifying his work.. so that acting truly became behavior... and observation became part of his dictionary and daily tools.
His warmth and understanding of the students journey was remarkable and the afternoon gave us all a real understanding, respect and love for the life of an artist and this terrific generous man, as well.
We continue our work on student plays in Rep Class and are beginning to integrate the lessons of working from inside and outside at the same time, resting on the writers words to find the simple truth of word.
Dramaturg and playwright Jeff Sweet is able to offer his perspective on the work in a way that opens the writers to new ways of imagining their text. Rod Menzies is skillfully moderating the sessions, drawing out the writers strengths, navigating the waters of personality and talent, supporting actor and audience as well. Actors are beginning to understand the ways in which they contribute to the vision of the playwright. Strangers have become friends have become collaborators.
We are mid way through our program this week. Very hard to believe! The days are flying by. We are cutting back a bit on our public outings to allow time for work, rest and process.
Our work remains exciting and new every day.