Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Teaching and Directing = Learning

By • Aug 22nd, 2012 • Category: An Actor's Advice

In the near future, I will be taking on two roles within the local theatre community that are more supervisory and instructional in nature. I will be directing a play, and I will be teaching an eight-week workshop for young people on character-building.

Directing I have done before, though not for a while. Leading workshops I have done for the first time on several occasions this summer, with varying degrees of interest from those involved. (Though in both cases I was later told I had succeeded in keeping the students’ attention longer than most other guest speakers.)

I look forward to both of these endeavors. Not only because I can, as I hope to do with this column and my blog educate other actors on how to improve their craft, but also because of the education I will certainly receive.

It is not profound to suggest that a good teacher also learns from their students, and indeed from the very process of teaching. I am sure you have heard of, and perhaps have experienced this concept yourself before. By teaching something about which you are passionate to others, you see your own position in a different light. You think on aspects of your field that you have left on auto-pilot for quite sometime. You gain perspective and you refresh your creativity within the field. Though not everyone who teaches or directs theatrically has, or even wants to be an actor at some point, actors have a great deal to gain from taking the chance, when it arrives, to direct and to teach.

In both cases a broader picture must be viewed perhaps than when one is an actor within a production. Implications of what is said and instructed and explored are broader. Deeper. They require more thought. Which means that when we teach or direct, we are affording the chance to see the art from a step away. The problems and question our actors or students have may open up new ways of seeing what we do as actors. And as I have said over and over in this column and on my blog, the more perspective we can gain on acting, the better we can be at doing so, and the more rewarding it is for us and our future audiences.

Teaching is not for everyone, and I don’t claim I am built to do it all of the time for the rest of my life. Yet if ever the chance arises for you to share your knowledge with a willing group outside of the actual stage, I highly recommend taking that opportunity. We actors can be a withdrawn bunch at times, and teaching/directing can force us to look outward again into the world we are supposed to be emulating when we are in a show in the first place.

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is a Maryland native and has been acting for nine years, having studied it at Marietta College in Ohio. He has been schooled in Shakespeare, improvisation, public speaking and voice articulation throughout his career. His credits to date include over 30 plays and readings as well as 2 films. You can also read his blogs (for theatre related thoughts) and (for thoughts on personal success from an outcast). Follow him on Twitter @TyUnglebower.

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