Performing Arts
© Mike Keenan

Stratford's Birmingham Conservatory

Festival Theatre
Festival Theatre, photo by Mike Keenan

Have you ever wondered how actors improve their craft? How they learn to develop skills. Well, at Stratford, classes for the 15th session of the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre are now underway with ten actors embarking on six months of intensive training under the guidance of Conservatory Director, Martha Henry.

Three participants return for a second year in the program: Josue Laboucane, Andrew Robinson and Antoine Yared. Sara Farb, who made her Stratford debut this season, joins the program for her first year, along with Festival newcomers Jamie Mac, Jennifer Mogbock, Derek Moran, Karack Osborn, Sarena Parmar and Laura Schutt.

According to Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, "The training they will receive is unparalleled, given the opportunity to work under the leadership of Martha Henry, one of Canada's most respected actors and directors, and alongside top voice, movement and text coaches. This program has helped to launch the careers of many of our leading actors. This year we are proud to have 29 Conservatory graduates in our 2013 acting company and I have no doubt that this year's group will become an integral part of our future seasons. I look forward to not only their highly anticipated theatrical presentations, but to working with them in our upcoming season."

Sounds much like a farm team for a major league entity, doesn't it? So, what will this instruction involve? Judging by the following list of instructors (in alphabetical order), it will cover just about everything involved in acting and more!

Here's the team:
Annette av Paul, ballet dancer and director: ballet instructor
Frank Bach: instructor of conscious movement
Janet Madelle Feindel, Voice and Alexander Technique instructor at Carnegie Mellon University: voice instructor
Kate Hennig, actor and playwright: voice and Original Practices instructor Thomas Morgan Jones, Associate Artistic Director and Dramaturge at Theatre District: movement instructor
David Latham, Theatre Training Consultant, Stratford Festival: mask instructor
Claire Lautier, actor: gyro kinesis instructor
David Ley, Drama Professor at University of Alberta: voice instructor
Kristin Linklater, Professor at Columbia University, Chair of Theatre Arts Division: voice and text instructor
Melinda Little, actor, movement coach and playwright: movement instructor
Keira Loughran, Creative Associate for Special Projects, Stratford Festival: aikido instructor
Kate Lynch, director, actor, playwright and acting teacher at University of Toronto: voice instructor
Jack MacDonald: yoga instructor
Kennedy C. MacKinnon: voice, text and dialect instructor
Kelly McEvenue: Alexander Technique and Movement Coach
Seana McKenna, actor: text instructor
Valerie Moore, choreographer: dance instructor
Hugh O'Gorman, Associate Professor and Head of Acting, California State University: Michael Chekov instructor
Janine Pearson, Head of Voice and Coaching, Stratford Festival: voice instructor
Chick Reid, actor: text instructor
David Smukler, Professor at York University: voice instructor
Richard Stewart: voice instructor
Terry Tweed, actor: text and grammar instructor
Nicolas Van Burek, actor: T'ai Chi instructor

Yes, classes in T'ai Chi, aikido and yoga, and how cool is it to have Seana McKenna, one of the best actors in the world as an instructor! This helps explain how Stratford is always so good.

Antoni Cimolino  Martha Henry  Outdoor sculpture, tent raising, photo by Mike Keenan  Seana McKenna

Outdoor sculpture
Outdoor sculpture, fundraising tribute, photo by Mike Keenan

Fiddler on the roof


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