For the integration of acting, voice and movement





Statement of Purpose





Philosophy of Teaching
Vocal Training
Movement Training
Theoretical Studies
General Background
Scholarly Inspiration









Welcome. Thank you for your interest in my teaching. I have a fierce commitment to the future of the performing arts. At the core of all of the performing arts—dancing, singing, acting and their "cousins"—is the actor. For this reason, I have devoted my professional life to the training of the actor, a task in which I have participated since 1975.









The Actors' Training Project, to which I have dedicated my professional energy with great intensity, is a program designed to train new and working actors through the integration of the performing arts-related disciplines. I developed this program with the idea that the acting teacher's basic responsibility is not only to provide a student with a wide variety of technical approaches, but also to promote the intellectual and persuasive skills. Therefore, in conjunction with passing on the actor's art and craft themselves, I encourage actors to think critically, to articulate these thoughts vigorously, and to collaborate with others fruitfully. As a result, the actors I train are characterized by an unusual quality of informedness and aesthetic savvy.








I have also put both my professional experience and my doctoral degree at the service of vocal training for over twenty-five years. All of my work with stage, film and television actors has been stimulated by the beauty and authority of the speaking voice. Vocal training today takes advantage, of course, of the work of well-known teachers such as Berry, Linklater, Lessac and Fitzmaurice. At the same time, my practice benefits incalculably from the work of many other brilliant contributors to the voice field--many of whom are not yet well-known or have already been forgotten. In my experience, a student's affinity for a particular vocal "method" is best nurtured after comprehensive training is completed, so that the period of actual training serves to broaden, rather than to narrow, a student's focus. I have been loyal to this belief in all of my teaching work over the years.









Aside from the recognized integrity of my acting and vocal knowledge, there are two aspects I feel are characteristic of my teaching. First, I am convinced that the actor's scene study and vocal instruction are made most fruitful by simultaneous training in physical alignment and stage movement. My alignment teaching is inspired by the work of Mabel Todd, Joseph Pilates and the writings of F. Matthias Alexander, as were my own teachers. My teaching of stage movement has developed over fifteen years, drawing inspiration from a combination of actors, directors, designers, choreographers and fine artists. Breath and body being inextricably linked, I have been deeply committed to learning the skills to train them together, and take pride in having done so with such success.









Second, in addition to offering specific instruction in the components of the acting, voice and movement disciplines, I believe that theoretical studies must be the cornerstone of any program that seeks to foster meaningful inquiry into the performing arts. If we are going to keep the theatre of the past alive, we will need, for example, actors who can compellingly perform those texts--and actors can only be taught to perform when they have a conceptual framework to support them in their efforts. Likewise, if we are going to create a viable theatre for the future, we will need to teach our present generation of theatre and film artists how to recognize, and engage with, the lively and elegant theoretical debates of the past 3000 years.









In the case of Drama, whether one's goal is to enliven the past, to articulate the present or to build the future, the parameters around the study of "theory" need to be defined in unusually broad terms. Theatre, dance and singing are, by their very natures, interdisciplinary pursuits, and an understanding of their particular theoretical concerns needs to serve as a springboard for making contact with other disciplines. In one sense, the phrase "theatre specialist" poses a contradiction, since one cannot "specialize" in one field that is made up of so many others. Theatre, after all, is nothing without architecture and history, without music, art, dance and love of language, or without an all-inclusive discussion of human values.









My general background is the foundation for the themes of theoretical and interdisciplinary education which have run through both my teaching and my scholarship. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, in an atmosphere of heightened intellectual, cultural and social awareness; I received broad instruction from an early age in drama, speech, dance, music, languages and writing. As a young adult, I also studied fine and applied arts. I have traveled widely, and lived in Japan from 1979 to 1981, where I was granted a special visa to conduct cultural research on the Japanese avant-garde and underground political theatres.









I came to my doctoral studies, then, with a functionally multi-disciplinary perspective; but it was the art and theatre writings of Wassily Kandinsky that gave me the critical and theoretical vocabularies to "achieve" inter-disciplinary thinking. Kandinsky spent his life formulating incremental steps by which people in different fields can learn to talk to each other. In this spirit, I teach text analysis using musical principles, acting using painting principles, and stage movement using choreographic principles. As theoretician and critic, as practitioner in several media, as teacher and administrator--the unimaginably original figure of Kandinsky galvanized my work. In addition to writing my dissertation on Kandinsky, I have stayed current in the field, written and lectured on him, and taught his "analytical and synthetic" principles to actors from around the world for twenty-five years.





At the Actors' Training Project, we are working to dignify the role of integrated performance in the context of training and beyond. We hope you will participate.

Sincerely yours,

Lissa Tyler Renaud, Ph.D.
Program Director
Actors’ Training Project