Tomorrow night I will start the ten-week journey with a (mostly) new group of students, a journey I have started four times a year for the last eight years now.
It’s been three years this September since I started teaching in Los Angeles, and eight years since I offered my first class in San Francisco.
It’s been a great trip so far.
The class has evolved a lot. Not so much by design; I’m pretty happy with my format and so I’m not constantly obsessing about how to build a better mousetrap. More by happenstance: I’m in the process of leading some exercise or explaining some principle, and suddenly, it’s like a window opens. Suddenly there’s a new way to proceed that I simply had never noticed before. Somehow, out of the process of repeating an exercise or an explanation over and over again, a better way to proceed arises. It’s mysterious, energizing and humbling all at once. I remember talking with a student of mine who studied T’ai-Chi. I do T’ai-Chi myself, and I told him that sometimes I felt like the form, the sequence of movements I had learned, actually taught me things as I was doing it. Just by going through these movements, I had begun to see differently, and then as a result of seeing differently, I had some kind of realization about how to better execute the form. My student said that he himself had not experienced that, but that his teacher often spoke of such a thing happening.
I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned a lot about the material that I teach. I can feel how through the crucible of engaging with my students and trying to help them see and understand, my own understanding has deepened and become more intuitive. The challenge of reaching them, of illuminating this awesome art form that we wrestle with every week, has pushed me to to reach for new ways of expressing my understanding, and has forced me to constantly interrogate my own understanding.
I’ve also learned a lot about running a business: sales, marketing, setting and maintaining boundaries, dealing with negative feedback, acknowledging mistakes, and growing from them.
I enjoy the great variety and diversity of people who come to my classes. People of a range of ages and experience levels, ready to be challenged and taught.
It’s been an incredible pleasure to see students throw themselves into the class and their work with their partners, and truly grow from one cycle to the next.
And the best part is that there is more of all of this ahead. In having found such a great fit for my talents and passions, the vocation of teaching acting, I consider myself among the luckiest of men.