For those of you who do not already know our amazing ACT teachers, I thought I’d ask them a few questions and post the answers throughout the week for you all to see.
Our first teacher is Rachel Hockett. Miss Rachel is offering a number of classes this session: Theatre Fun, Theatre Exploration, Acting I, and Musical Theatre. Miss Rachel will also be directing our big musical this season, “My Fair Lady.”
SLOLT: Hi Rachel. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Question #1…Can you tell us what can be expected in your class(es)?
My goal with the young actors I work with is to encourage their imaginations and creativity, to foster their sense of play and enthusiasm for theatre, and to begin to help them develop the same tools that all actors need for truthful performances–using games, sensory memory, observation exercises, and the rudiments of character development. Above all, I hope my students will take greater self-possession and confidence into the world, whether they ever pursue a life in the theatre or not. Oh, and that they will have fun!
SLOLT: What is your philosophy on children/youth theatre training?
I think instilling in them respect for their fellow actors, tools for being good audience members, and a love for all things theatrical will create a foundation on which to begin the serious work of becoming an actor.
SLOLT: Can you tell us one of your favorite moments of your career so far?
One of the most astounding experiences I ever had happened during the run of my production of Annie Get Your Gun last season at the Little Theatre. We used to have the cast warm up before each performance by running through “I’ve Got the Sun in the Morning and the Moon at Night,” an enthusiastic song-and-dance number that involved the entire ensemble. Before one Friday night performance I had my camera and happened to capture a shot of the cast at the ultimate moment in the song–all arms outstretched and faces split wide in smile. I captured with one shot the unalloyed joy and excitement on the faces of every member of our company. That photo will always symbolize for me the way that doing a show can bring together people of all ages and dispositions to create something magical together.
SLOLT: What’s your most embarrassing moment on stage?
This happened not to me but to an actor in a production of Edward Albee’s The American Dream, which I directed as a student at Yale. The student who was playing Daddy had a moment where he sat decisively in an armchair on the line, “What did I say? What did I just say?” One night, as he said the line and sat, he toppled, armchair and all, over the back of the platform we had created for a stage in the college dining hall, completely out of sight from the audience. A moment of horrified silence ensued as the audience wondered if Jim had been hurt, or worse, falling backwards like that. And then, amidst a lot of clatter and scrabbling, he hoisted the armchair back onto the stage, jumped back onstage himself, sat down decisively, and said, “What did I say? What did I just say?” as if he had never missed a beat. Well, I laughed so hard, I almost fell off my own chair, and continued to laugh intermittently throughout the rest of the show. Afterwards Jim said to me, “Hockett, I might have kept a straight face if it hadn’t been for your caterwauling in the back of the house. Thanks a lot!”
SLOLT: What advice do you have for young thespians?
I tell young people to go to as many auditions as they can find, and to treat auditions as a chance to practice and have fun. I also advise them to take classes. Our county offers an abundance of opportunities to participate in shows, but not very much chance to study. As we all know, a person would not be invited to join a symphony orchestra without having studied music and an instrument for many years. Actors who are serious about pursuing a career in the theatre should have the same respect for their craft that any other performing artist must have in order to grow and succeed.