FAQ 2017-05-23T22:49:12+00:00

F.A.Q.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions.
No larger than 14 students. Every student is an A-list client at Andrew Wood.
At the moment, it’s $550 for the ten-week Essentials Workshop. And there’s a payment plan: $275 to register, refundable up to two weeks prior to the start date of the class, and then five weekly payments of $55 starting the first day of class.
Not at the Yale School of Drama, they didn’t. But, let’s think about this for a minute. Why is it that many Hollywood acting teachers actively promote their classes in this way?

“Everyone works every class!”

Why is this such a constant refrain? It’s because people called to be actors have a desire to get in front of people, to do their thing, to be seen and to share themselves. And there is nothing wrong with any of that; in fact it’s part of their talent. So getting everyone up every week meets that need. Everybody gets their moment in the spotlight. But it also means that no one’s work is getting investigated particularly deeply, because everyone is getting up for such a brief period of time. And without deep investigation, there is no progress. From week to week, everyone is doing pretty much the same thing they did the previous week because no one’s fundamental assumptions are being interrogated. Classes at the Yale School of Drama were not run in this way. At Yale, we would see two or at most three scenes per class. Seeing just a few scenes gave the teachers in classes at Yale the opportunity to get the students to talk about the assumptions that are underlying their work, and help them see how they could look at things in a more fruitful way. And everyone watching got to see that as well. At Andrew Wood, everyone does NOT work every class, and it’s a GOOD thing. It means that when you do get up, there is the possibility of real change, true development, not just a superficial check-up and a suggestion prompting a lightweight adjustment. And when you watch your classmates work, there will be real transformation happening before your very eyes.

In sum, just because “Everyone works every class” is a universal refrain doesn’t mean it’s smart, or good for the student.

The Essentials course presents a comprehensive, cohesive, powerful set of tools and distinctions that any actor can employ to reach greater boldness and authenticity in their work. Some of these things may be familiar, but the most important insights offered are refinements or radical clarifications of Stanislavsky arrived at by master teachers at the Yale Drama School. They are sophisticated, and for that reason quite challenging. Relative to those things, everyone in the class is a beginner. The class will ask that you be ready to let go of some of your prior ways of understanding things to make room for new perspectives. So, while there will likely be some beginners in the class, it’s important to remember that everyone is here to learn, experienced actors included. And keep in mind that I make sure that all beginners are clear before they enroll that this is a demanding class on many levels, and that they have to be braced to meet these demands. Beginners in this frame of mind can accomplish a lot, and there is no reason to think that they would hold anyone back —“Zen mind, beginner’s mind.” If you are an experienced actor looking to take your work to another level, then look no further.
Depends on what kind of class you are looking for. The Essentials class is a rigorous class that offers actors a powerful set of distinctions and tools. A motivated beginner can derive enormous benefit from exposure to these things. I’ve seen it many times. However, beginners need to be ready for the equivalent of a first-year class at a graduate conservatory. This ain’t no nursery school. Andrew will take you seriously as an actor in the class, and he looks for that seriousness in return. You will need to be ready to take in a lot, and be comfortable with not understanding all of it right away. You will need to be proactive about learning. This is not about being spoon-fed. You will need to read, take notes, review your notes, ask questions, take responsibility for getting it. But if you do these things, you will find yourself moving forward with great rapidity in both understanding and ability. So it’s a question of what you are looking for in a class. And there is only one person who knows what that is.
In classes that are run on a month-to-month basis, people are constantly joining the class, and then withdrawing, either temporarily or for good. Everyone starts at a different point, and leaves at a different point. This can make it difficult to work with a scene partner, as at the start of each new month, your partner could potentially disappear. Also, with everyone joining the class at different times, you have people coming in with no understanding of the approach presented in the class trying to work alongside people who have spent some time coming to terms with the distinctions and tools that the month-to-month class in question utilizes. With 10-week cycles at Andrew Wood, everyone commits to ten weeks of scene work, and everyone is introduced to the approach at the same time. There are still differences between students in terms of the amount of prior training and experience students in the class have, but at least you don’t constantly have people joining the class who have no understanding of what is happening.
Classes meet in the evening, generally at 7 PM, although one or more classes per 10-week cycle may start earlier, at 6:30 PM.  When this happens, it is announced a week in advance.
Starting with the April 12th, 2017 cycle, classes will be held at Space Station Hollywood.

If you want to develop your ability to enter into a character’s situation, pursue what they pursue, and be affected by what affects them, it is. And these aspects of acting apply whether you are doing voice-over or theater for the deaf. There are things to learn about working in the various mediums, but these have mostly to do with the mediums, not with acting. Look at the Yale School of Drama and the parade of illustrious alumni that School has produced: until very recently, it was a school solely for theater, and that is still its focus, mostly. And yet there are many graduates who have gone on to have very interesting careers in Hollywood. Three years of solid theater training stood them in excellent stead to thrive in Los Angeles. Just figure out how to act well. The rest will take care of itself.
Yes, all of the material that we work on the class was written in the last forty years.

In the Advanced class, we sometimes work with classic writers like Shakespeare and Chekhov, but never in the Essentials class.

We work with scenes from plays, but the plays are all contemporary. Scenes from plays are sometimes longer than scenes from screenplays and teleplays, the dialogue is sometimes more interesting, and playwrights often have greater latitude in structure and character development than screenwriters and teleplay writers do. Also, I like to assign material that is not from movies you’ve likely seen, or that you will be tempted to find and watch, so that you can approach the material without preconceptions. Many of the playwrights whose works we do in the class also write for television shows and films. It’s material that will be relevant to you, regardless of the mediums you desire to work in.
Yes, it is in use by some of the best directors working today. Evan Yionoulis and Mark Brokaw attended Yale in the mid-eighties and created the technique from what they learned in classes with David Hammond and Earle Gister. Mark has directed many, many successful Off-Broadway and Broadway productions, including This is Our Youth (with Mark Ruffalo, before he was Mark Ruffalo), How I Learned to Drive (with Mary Louise Parker), As Bees in Honey Drown (with J. Smith-Cameron), and many, many others. Evan recently directed The Violet Hour on Broadway with Robert Sean Leonard, and is a longtime collaborator with Patricia Clarkson, who attended Yale in the same period as Mark and Evan and studied the same technique. Mark and Evan taught the technique for more than ten summers with the Yale Summer School Acting Program, and both went on to teach it at the Yale School of Drama.
Class meets for three hours a week. Students are expected to meet for 90 minutes a week with their scene partners. For the first 6 weeks, there are assigned readings that take up to an hour a week. In addition, all students should plan on spending around two hours a week studying the play they are working on, analyzing it, daydreaming about it in a productive way, and otherwise preparing to rehearse. So all told, around eight hours a week including class time. It lessens a bit half way through the course once the assigned readings end, but eight hours is the neighborhood you need to be in consistently to make the course a meaningful experience for you.
The goal of the technique I teach is to produce viscerally compelling, lucid performances, NOT intellectual performances. However, anyone that tells you that thinking is not a part of what an actor does is nothing less than a snake-oil salesman. In working on scenes, we look carefully at how characters face their challenges and make their decisions. To act as if this is something that doesn’t require thinking is frankly dishonest. I am not talking about academic thinking; it’s nothing you are going to write a paper on. But figuring out what “makes someone tick” is a challenging exercise; if you haven’t thought deeply about why characters do what they do, then your performance isn’t going to offer an audience much in the way of clarity about what a character is all about. It’s nothing to be afraid of, but it shouldn’t be discounted either. “Intellectual” is not the word, but rigorous and thoughtful are things we endeavor to be Andrew Wood. Would you want to be anything less?
I’m afraid not. If you take the course, you’ll find out that you have to abide by a fairly rigorous attendance policy: only one absence over the course of the ten weeks. This helps assure that the people in the class are present consistently, a key element in creating an environment where people feel safe to take risks and leap into the freedom we all know as children. Having people outside the class drop in periodically to scrutinize what we are doing does not contribute to this kind of atmosphere. BUT, you can have a coffee date with me, and I’ll talk to you about the class at length. This should give you some sense of the class. I can provide you with the email addresses of students who can talk to you about how the class has served them. And finally, there’s the payment structure: the class is on a pay-as-you-go basis, so there is nowhere near the kind of risk you find in most classes, where you have to pay in full before starting. If you have a good hunch about the class, then you don’t lose much by giving it a try, even if you find it’s not to your liking. You can always opt out. It doesn’t tend to happen, though. People who are serious about acting, and have taken the trouble to make sure they have the bandwidth to take on something like this, and are ready to work, inevitably find the class to be an exciting and valuable challenge. Come give it a try.
Yes. A big part of what actors need to learn is how to prepare, and how to manage their preparation time.  So time out of class is important.  It’s very important.  Also, students meet outside of class for at least ninety minutes per week to rehearse.  Between assigned reading, preparing to rehearse, and rehearsing, you will spend significant time outside of class on your work.  Then, in class, you get input in your work, and this helps you evaluate your outside-of-class work, and figure out how to improve it.  Work in class is supervised.  But what you do without a teacher looking over your shoulder is also very important!  Figuring out how to make that time count is essential to developing your own process as an actor.  And that’s what you will be learning in the Essentials Workshop at Andrew Wood.

Of course Andrew would be happy to have you hire him to coach you on every project you ever undertake, but he knows that might not happen.  So he wants you to develop the ability to work on your own.  That’s why time outside of class is essential.

Depends on what you mean by method. The word “method” is sometimes used to distinguish between ANY Stanislavsky-based work on the one hand, and older styles of acting which were only concerned with “external” concerns such as articulation, intonation, gesture, and alignment or posture on the other. In other words, “method” is sometimes used to mean any approach in which the inner life of the actor while acting is considered to be of paramount importance. In that sense, the approach taught in my class most emphatically is and should be seen as “method.” However, “method” is also often used (the two usages make for a lot of confusion) to mean the type of work engendered by Lee Strasberg, based on some explorations that had been a part of Stanislavsky’s approach in the early phase of his work. This work is known as “emotional memory” work, and the idea is that the actor, while rehearsing or performing, is attempting to relive a particular emotionally compelling event from his or her own past to generate behavior and feeling somehow appropriate to the moment being created by the writer. In this sense, my class is definitely NOT “method acting.” In my class, acting is viewed as an attempt to enter and experience an imaginary or fictional world, and the emotional responses to that world are born out of the present moment, and out of the work the actor has done to invest this world and the people who populate it with importance for himself or herself. The actor’s personal past is important as part of his or her PREPARATION process, but is not a part of the rehearsal or performance process. In my class, while in the rehearsal process or in performance, we want you firmly and solidly rooted in the here and now. What’s past is prologue, as the man said.
No. The Advanced class is not a class for actors at a particular level of proficiency; it is a class that creates an opportunity for people who have spent some time acquainting themselves with the approach taught here at Andrew Wood Acting Studio to be able to work together. There’s a lot of great training and experience out there to be had, but until you have gotten to know what THIS way of working is all about, you won’t be a fit for the Advanced class.
Take a look at the schedule and then contact Andrew to arrange a meeting over coffee. This is not an interview. If you meet Andrew for coffee, and hear his explanation of the expectations and requirements of the class, and you feel it’s a fit for you, you will be welcome (non-native speakers of English will need to demonstrate fluency in speaking to qualify).

Meetings with prospective students are held on Saturdays between noon and 8 PM, and are free of charge during that timeframe.  Meetings outside of this timeframe are possible with a surcharge.

Classes can sometimes fill up months in advance, so “as soon as possible” is not a bad idea, to be sure of securing a slot. There is a fair amount of reading to do for the first day of class, so ideally, you would give yourself at least two weeks’ time to comfortably find that material and get it read. It’s possible to register closer to the start date than that; doing so will simply mean a bit of a hustle to be ready to start, but it has been done successfully many times.
Congratulations! You have something in common with earthworms and hedgehogs. No, seriously, instincts are wonderful. They are the best thing an actor has. But are you SURE you are in touch with them? Are you REALLY sure? Are you sure sometimes, but not so sure at other times? Have you been in situations where your instincts were mysteriously silent? Well, then…

Technique is there to support and channel your instincts appropriately, and to give you a range of tools to reach for when that instinctual engine just won’t turn over. It happens to the best of us.

And besides that, freedom lies on the other side of technique, a wise person once said. You may have great musical instincts, but if you’re like most of us, you need to learn to play a few scales before you can bang out that Chopin Nocturne. It’s just paying your dues. Didn’t you watch the TV show Fame? Don’t you remember in the opening sequence, when Ms. Grant says “You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here’s where you start paying. In sweat…” I guess I’m dating myself. But anyway, like that. You know what I’m talking about. And it’s not all strenuous exertion. You do have those light-bulb moments when stuff starts to add up. And when you get one of those after you’ve really worked for it, you’ll know you have it forever.

Can you imagine an athlete trying out for a team and using a special “audition technique” during the try-out? What about a musician trying out for a band or an orchestra? Would they use an “audition technique”? Of course not. Audition technique is hogwash. An audition is an opportunity to show of your chops as an actor, not as an auditioner. So-called “audition techniques” are chock full of cliched sage pronouncements like “Own your audition!” and “Make strong choices!” and “Show your range!” The projects you want to be a part of are the ones where the gatekeepers actually have a discerning eye for what good acting is, because those are the projects that will be successful, by and large. They are not going to be fooled by any “audition technique”. They want to see the real deal. Which is why you want to be in the class that will help you develop real skill — like this one.
This is a class that takes you and your potential seriously — very seriously. It’s not a class full of preliminary exercises about getting in touch with yourself or feeling less inhibited. It’s a class that teaches a framework for becoming a true student of a script, for patiently discovering and extracting the details that will place you in touch with the pulsing heart of the role. And it teaches you a process and a set of tools and distinctions to support you in translating what you learn as a student of the script into action in a scene.

The class presents a COMPREHENSIVE approach. It’s not one class in a sequence of four, all of which you need to be able to act. The whole approach is laid out in ten weeks. But this means that the course is dense: a lot of material is presented every week, and it’s important the you take responsibility for making sure that the information offered to you becomes knowledge and understanding. So this will mean STUDYING. It will mean WORKING. It will mean accepting structure. It will mean APPLYING YOURSELF. It will mean PATIENCE with not understanding everything immediately. It will mean accepting and ultimately embracing COMPLEXITY (telling stories is principally a way of contending with the complexity of life). It will mean forging resolve and staying true to a purpose. It will mean continuing to work when you no longer feel like it. It will mean getting to class when you’d rather take a night off. It will mean coming through for your scene partner. It will mean being held accountable. It will require GRIT.

Andrew Wood Acting Studio is unable to provide any help with obtaining a visa.