The Platform Year
Training the acting instrument is the first goal in year one. The Meisner technique, voice and text, movement and improvisation introduce you to the road of discovery of one’s self as an artist. Next, you begin to explore the technical aspects of working in front of a camera and have the opportunity to learn the information necessary for an actor to function with professionalism on a set.
You also begin to work on your craft. You start to explore the given circumstances of a scene and how to own them in an authentic way, taking what the writer has given you and learning how to make those circumstances your truth.
While there are many facets to a successful acting career, it all starts with the pure artistry of acting. So your first year at NYCDA is dedicated to developing your acting instrument. It’s an exciting year where you’ll find yourself as an actor and grow, building essential skills and techniques to craft authentic, believable performances. Our program is grounded in the Meisner technique, pioneered by American master Sanford Meisner. You will also study the Stanislavski System of acting, from which all modern acting techniques derive. Of course, you will also receive extensive training in voice, movement, improvisation and more.
As the year progresses you’ll really develop your craft, exploring each scene’s unique circumstances so the truths the writer has given you fuel every movement, every impulse, every expression and inflection. At the end of this year comes the fork in the road where you declare whether you’ll be continuing in our Film and Television Performance Program or the Theater, Film and Television Performance Program with its added emphasis on theater. Advancement to the Film and Television Year or the Theater Year at NYCDA is by invitation only and is based on teacher evaluations, academic standing and final performances reviewed by the Academic Leadership Team.
VOICE AND SPEECH I
Explore basic vocal technique for the actor, including breath work, relaxation techniques, resonance, pitch, tempo and volume, with the goal of increasing the ability to fully express the truth of the text and the emotional integrity of the character and situation, while striving for vocal variety and expressiveness.
Perform with spontaneity and freedom through improvisational technique using body, gestures, and emotions. Use improvisation as an art form, as well as for auditioning and executing other performance disciplines. Make use of the tools of listening; being in the moment; committing to choices in working with fellow actors; use of status; and making active choices with emotional and physical connections.
FILM GENRES AND HISTORY
Become conversant with several film acting styles, primarily after the advent of sound, as exemplified and demanded by different genres of film. Analyze how character qualities and script content lead to the choices that are needed to act in those genres. Study early film history and the development of easily recognized genres; genre as a marketing tool; genre as an acting tool; and shared elements of the most popular genres, including the western, romantic comedy, film noir, horror and sci-fi.
INTRODUCTION TO THE CAMERA FOR ACTORS I
Learn the technical aspects and differences of working on a single camera and a multi-camera set; everything from hitting marks to adjusting to different camera angles; from who to listen to and take direction from to having an understanding of the on-set jobs that are important to the actor. Learn all the terminology of working in film and television; what is professional behavior on a set; and what is the actor’s responsibility. The class is taught from the actor’s point of view.
MEISNER TECHNIQUE I
Learn the acting technique of Sanford Meisner in order to achieve spontaneous reactions and authentic behavior in acting. Begin with basic listening skills, repetition exercises and an exploration of independent activities. Advance to an exploration of scene work with a specific emphasis on relationships, activity and preparation that includes working off each other and expressing moments fully. Explore emotional preparation, imaginary circumstances and point of view.
MOVEMENT FOR ACTORS I
Explore a series of rigorous exercises developed to allow an understanding of physical awareness and impulses in a nonjudgmental and non-product oriented atmosphere. Physically complement the work being done in voice and acting classes using a variety of movement methodologies. Learn popular dance styles most likely to occur during the course of an acting career, such as the foxtrot and the waltz, while exploring aspects of relationship and behavior in simple scenes.
VOICE AND SPEECH II
Continue vocal flexibility work introduced in Voice and Speech I, beginning with microphone technique and cold reading skills. Explore Shakespearean texts to develop heightened language skills, full breath support and dynamic energy. Use the intensity of Shakespeare’s plays to diagnose and correct any vocal problems that may arise during heightened emotionality. Make use of the opportunities in Shakespeare’s\ plays where the text requires moments of simplicity, relaxation and minimalism with a precision of body, face and gesture work to complement the language.
MEISNER TECHNIQUE II
Apply, through heightened awareness, the principles of emotional preparation to specific text work. Develop the skills of exploring the text; preparation techniques; personal invention; focus on believable behavior in order to achieve spontaneity; and honesty in sharing. Learn how to maintain the integrity of the text; interpret the material and act moments as they are written; memorize and interpret speeches; and perform a fully interpreted score.
MOVEMENT FOR ACTORS II
Build on fundamental relaxation, physical stillness, energy, focus and dance techniques learned in Movement for Actors I. The student integrates body and mind with exercises using observation and imagination. Become more self aware about the body's relationship to space and how we respond to physical, vocal and emotional stimuli.
ACTORS LAB I
Through exercises based on the work of such people as Stanislavski and Hagen, explore the facets of the craft that allow an actor to immerse himself and take ownership of the given circumstances of the script in a truthful way. Learn tools of the imagination such as endowment, emotional memory, sense memory, object work and creating a moment before. Put these skills to practical use working on simple A/B scene.
ACTORS LAB II
Further develop the skills learned in Actor’s Lab I and apply them to text in scenes from plays. Learn how to explore the given circumstances written by a playwright and use the learned acting craft to bring the characters to life in a truthful manner. Work on preceding circumstances, relationship, environment, obstacles, intentions and actions.
This school offers programs in: