Tisch School of the Arts is one of the best drama schools in the United States, but for the rest of NYU, the multitude of acting studios can be jarring. Everything from the tight-knit communities within to each studio’s off-campus locations seems imposing and elusive to outsiders.
So, what makes these studios so special? Tisch freshmen took some time out of their long studio days to enlighten WSN about the options for first-years.
New Studio on Broadway
New Studio on Broadway specializes in musical theater. Throughout the week, classes focus on subjects in ballet, contemporary dance, acting, spoken voice, speech, music theory, sight singing, vocal performance and small group music. NSB aims to teach aspiring actors to be present and authentic while integrating that work into vocal training and dancing.
Emily Goes, a freshman in NSB, said she loves being in a community of artists who put their heart and soul into every performance.
“I think it’s so invigorating that I can integrate the approaches I’ve learned in acting into the dance studio or vocal performance,” Goes said. “And find the strength to discover the meaning and intent behind every move or lyric.”
Atlantic Acting School
Atlantic Acting School –– founded by “Shameless” actor William H. Macy –– follows a technique known as Practical Aesthetics, which centers around script analysis and as if scenarios that personally connect every actor to a character in a scene. Atlantic students have four classes per day and six classes total with a ‘15-minute rule,’ where students have to arrive 15 minutes early to silently prepare for class.
Atlantic freshman Max Vaupen values this emphasis on individuality.
“I’ve seen the same scene performed [in] drastically different ways because two people analyzed the scene differently,” Vaupen said. “The outcome was still interesting because both analyses made sense within the given circumstances of the play.”
In Vaupen’s opinion, Atlantic kids are similar; they connect with one another very easily.
“Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and being able to see progress really strengthens our chemistry as a group,” Vaupen said.
Playwrights Horizons Theater School
Playwrights Horizons Theater School allows students to study all aspects of theater making and learn a variety of acting styles.
“Every day in Playwrights is different,” first-year Jack Dahill said. “Most have acting and movement followed by either playwriting or design.”
Studio days also consist of a salon, where an industry professional comes to speak to the students. Dahill said he fits right into Playwrights because it allows him to explore all that theater has to offer, especially directing.
“I’ve always been someone that likes to do a lot of different things,” Dahill said. “Playwrights allows me to do that.”
The Meisner Studio
The Meisner technique is based on repetition, which emphasizes listening to your partner and reacting honestly to whatever they say or do. Partner work entails one actor going in front of the class and performing an unscripted moment where the goal is to elicit an emotion. Then another actor comes in and joins after doing emotional preparation outside.
Meisner freshman Nikolas Elrifi finds the studio a good fit for him.
“It really forces you to externalize emotion, which I have trouble doing,” he said. “Most of the work you have someone pushing you to high emotional states that you can’t keep inside.”
Production and Design Studio
Production and Design is the only studio at NYU that specializes in the technical aspects of theater alone. Students learn the processes behind different focuses of production.
“When I was in middle school, I had no clue that I was able to have a career in a field most people deem as a hobby,” P&D freshman Lauren Blanks said. “Being in this studio gives me the freedom to be creative and build my skills in areas I’d never encountered before”
An average class day consists of classes like theater organization, drafting, fundamentals of stagecraft, fundamentals of design, painting and drawing.
“Most people forget that we’re a studio because there’s not that many of us,” Blanks said. “But in reality, we’re a tightly-knit group that all share the same creative minds and want to create beautiful art just like the acting studios.”
Experimental Theatre Wing
Experimental Theatre Wing works to create actors who are prepared conceptually, technically and personally to meet the demands of contemporary and traditional theater.
Studio days consist of voice class and ballet class in the morning with Meisner acting classes and circus class in the afternoon.
Freshman Collin Linnville feels like he belongs in ETW because of its priortization physicality.
“The physicality makes people even more intimate,” Linnville said.
In Linnville’s opinion, ETW kids are characterized by their individualism and freedom to create their own work.
“People always say that ETW is mysterious, but it’s unique and has a large focus on developing great artists as well as great actors,” Linville said
Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute
At the core of Lee Strasberg is the ability to release complex emotions within, which would be difficult to create artificially for performances.
An average studio day includes two hours of dance, a four hour method acting class, voice and speech and improvisation.
Strasberg freshman Jacob Edwards believes the personal training at Strasberg has helped him discover new aspects of himself and his craft.
“People think delving into your emotions is unhealthy when quite the opposite is true,” Edwards said. “If you’ve dealt with something and then bring it out, you can sense a feeling of relief that’s so refreshing.”
Stella Adler Studio of Acting
At Stella Adler Studio of Acting, the technique revolves around the magnification of the imagination. Studio Founder Stella Adler provided actors with the tools to use their imaginations to develop roles.
“We believe that acting is ‘doing,” freshman Sorosh Wein said. “Growth as a human being and [as] an actor are synonymous.”
An average studio day consists of one to three hour classes on topics like movement, voice and speech or scene study.
“The Adler philosophy encourages us to be more than just actors,” Wein said. “I want to be someone that changes the world through his craft. The great endeavors and experiences in life inform and improve your acting.”
In Wein’s opinion, what makes Adler students so unique is the desire for activism and the desire to use their success for social change.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 20 print edition. Email Emma Hernando at [email protected]