The master class actor training at the Maggie Flanigan Studio is a ten week advanced scene study class for professionally trained actors. In this video Gene Pope talks about his decision to take the class and how it directly impacted his audition process.
Why Did You decide To Take Master Class with Maggie Flanigan?
When I left the two years conservatory I was a little nervous but I felt that I had gained a lot of knowledge and I started applying it. Then something interesting actually started happening as I was auditioning more and more. I started and this was when I realized I was working with different kinds of actors, different kinds of people, who are asking different things that of me in a different way and I said to myself, “I’m starting to drift”.
I felt like i was starting to drift that I was in danger of going away from the core but the answers that I was applying to the question we’re not were not necessarily up right in line with what would be the most effective, whether it was on stage or on camera. So I decided that if a masterclass came up I wanted to get right back into that to recenter myself, to remind myself of why I’m an actor and what how I can do my best to be an actor. That’s exactly why I came back to the course was to get that done plus the fact that Maggie offered so kindly to allow me to do a scene which I’ve always been excited about which is a scene of a person who is not normal but has something wrong with them. It’s more challenging, its layered but it just was something I wanted to get my teeth into and she felt that I would I was ready for it. I was thrilled and and it was extraordinarily effective that way.
How Important Was It That The Class Was Small In Size?
When you take into effect the idea that Maggie has such a wealth of information, I can’t think of having too small of a class size with with her because you want to have as much time with her as possible. It is a very relaxed atmosphere and she knows you’re there to work hard and she accepts that and she accepts you as an actor who now has some experience and that wants to take their their work to another level. So with knowing that she spends a lot of time compared to the two year conservatory, relatively speaking, because you don’t have to cycle through endless scenes. You get your 20 minutes and that’s it. If you are having an issue shows she’s able to take the time to work on that issue with you and work on it and work on it. There is plenty of time because there is 10 people in the room. That is a revelation because you want to hear as much as you possibly can from Maggie Flanagan about how you’re doing, what are you doing right, what are you doing wrong and how to improve it. So for me in a smaller class is just a decision that they made that is just a gift to actors anywhere in my opinion.
What Was It Like To Work So Closely with Maggie In Class?
Maggie is one of the most respectable people I have ever worked with in terms of respecting actors no matter what your level is. That empowers you to experiment more. You don’t feel like “Oh my God, it’s Maggie Flanigan, I am going to have to be on my best behavior”, no it’s just Maggie and she’s talking to you one-on-one. She’s guiding you and you go okay “Let me try this”. At the end of it she’s not going to say “Oh my God, what was that?” She’s going to say “No, just think about this try it again.” That’s what I thought our relationship was like and it it was a gift again to get she’s giving you. You’ve got to take these gifts when you can, when they are available. She’s one of the best minds around in terms of acting, in my opinion and you have to take it while it’s here or you’ll be very sorry that you missed it.
What Did You Find Difficult About The Class?
What I found difficult about the master class with the first two minutes I sat down with Maggie and with my partner and I started to do my first reading. The reason for that was because I was trying to please Maggie too much. I mean I didn’t her to think that I was a wanker or something and that I had learned something from the class because you know i did all this work. After about two minutes she simply said “Gene stop for a second. Stop. Relax, take a breath. I just want you to react and respond.” I said “You’re right, I’m trying way too hard.” That was it. Once that was off the table and then the rest of it was just a pleasure of work.
You are really working intensely. When you’re working that intensely on something that you love I mean and this is your career that you want here, it’s always a joy, it’s not a difficulty. It’s a difficulty in that somebody is critiquing maybe but it’s never in something that’s going to pull you down. It’s something that is going to lift you up.
So where’s the downside? I didn’t find a downside other than those first two minutes which was basically my own doing.
How Did the Class Get You Back On Course with Your Career?
A few weeks literally after the class I was sitting at a Ruddy Productions reading and I’m sitting in the front row and one of the people that within my class was sitting in that same row, and all of a sudden she started hitting me in the shoulder saying, “Gene, Gene, Gene, I have to introduce you to somebody” and she starts poking the other person from the other studio and bring them over. “Gene was in the my class and he was doing how I learned to drive and he was and he was playing Uncle Peck. You’ve got to let him read for the part.” She says “We’ve already done our auditions are doing callbacks.” She was non-stop. Long story short I went there. They did a callback. It lasted for hours and it was so much fun.
Of course, I was there looking around thinking “Well, that guy looks like he could be the part. That guy looks pretty good too. There is a lot of competition here.”
I knew in my mind exactly how I wanted to do this scene and do this character. I felt the strength of that and so I just did what I was going to do and took the direction that I was given. I kept everything that I’ve learned in my head at all times. I survived the four hours. At the end they announced that they were going to do another callback the next weekend.
That weekend we started out with 16 people and it just started whittling away another four hours went by until is just two of us. Then they had us come in and do the scene that I have done in class with Maggie. The exact same scene. They had us do it three times with three different points of view of direction which was so much fun. The next thing we knew we were both going home. I was driving home and I get the call from them offering the part.
That’s not that’s not the way it’s going to always happen but I do believe that you make your luck. I feel that I’ve been lucky since I left but I want to come back again because I want to always make sure that there’s always more to learn. I want to make sure that I always have my tools as sharp as humanly possible because you’re going to walk into that audition one day and all the sudden you are just right for it and at that moment, you have to be perfect.
This is the way to do it, to come back and and refresh yourself.
Register For The Acting Master Class
To register for the Master Class with Maggie Flanigan, contact the studio directly by calling 917-789-1599.