As we near the end of this Summer season, I’d like to, once again, state how deeply moved I feel while reflecting on all that our community has weathered; and how, in both small and big ways, you showed resilience, artistry, bravery, playful curiosity, thoughtfulness, passion, patience, a willingness to dig deep & so much heart.
We wanted to officially announce and congratulate TKActors: Emmanuel Mendez, Mary-Angela Granberry, Lia Bonfilio, Pat Galante, Liz Bachmann, Luke Linthorne, Joshua Hinkson, Maggie Siciliano, Eric Sebastian, Sarah Mezzanotte & Jess Rawls on being selected as Exceptional Students — Summer 2021!
These 11 students continually bring the utmost courage, joy and authenticity to the room day in and day out. We’re so grateful to honor their unique & powerful growth over this term.
Help us send them some much-deserved love and congratulations.
Finally, an enormous thank you again to #TKActor Gabrielle Bones for being our Virtual Photographer and capturing all of these beautiful shots.
What does being an artist ‘committed to excellence’ mean to you while training at TK Studio?
The Idea of being committed to excellence as an artist means a wide variety of things for me. It means being able to identify habits that society has placed on you for survival and knowing how to remove them when you come into the work, because it doesn’t serve you in this space. It’s knowing the amount of sacrifice you have to give to really dive deep into the work. You’re going to miss the bar hangs and the park picnics, because the work requires a level of attention that’s quite obsessive.
The faculty at TKS has taught me how to accept failure and to honestly embrace it. Within every thing associated with failure are a multitude of learning opportunities if you allow yourself to be open to them and not focus on the negative. They taught me to embrace vulnerability. To really feel what’s going on and run towards it, which in itself tends to be uncomfortable, but that’s where the growth lies. Being committed to excellence for me is understanding theres growth and learning not just at TKS, but everyday life. You just have to be open to it.
Being an artist committed to excellence is a reminder that you can only achieve what you are willing to put in. I understand that in order to reach a level of excellence – which to me is the best version of me I can get to, the commitment is making those sometimes hard sacrifices, trying new things, and taking strong risks. In some ways hoping to fail knowing that in the pursuit of that failure actually is where the progress to success lies. We have to be bold and push ourselves out of our comforts in order to expand that line of “safety” so persistently our progress in the work becomes consistent as actors and performers. For me, that is where excellence lies; There is courage, but its also the discipline to always go there, “running towards the canons” through that seemingly scary or hazy fog. Its a promise to myself that in trusting this scary terrain I’m exploring, wholeheartedly, I will be safe and actually find the freedom I am seeking as an actor but, with the trust in this promise (to myself) that my work will always be or strive to be the best it can be.
Excellence, like imagination, is infinite. It is also personal. It has to do with bravely meeting what is uniquely vulnerable in each of us with a deep curiosity. For me it is a process of path-clearing– creating passage between inner life and expression. On some days the path is open and free, on others the weeds of fear and shame have grown in and, once again, I cannot seem to reach myself.
By putting into regular practice the many tools I have gained at the studio– tools that help me to soften, to open, to disrupt my habits–I commit to clearing and re-clearing the path.
Just before being asked to write about excellence here I experienced a breakthrough in class around being a Good Student, something I have always equated with excellence. But it seems it has been a sneaky diversion tactic: “Look over here at my hard work and seriousness! It’s so hard and so serious you won’t be able to see me cowering behind it with all my messiness and vulnerability!” Being guided toward this revelation has been powerful. I am learning that, paradoxically, being committed to excellence also means not being committed to excellence, at least not in the traditional way. There are no grades or tests or gold stars here.
Excellence within TK Studio culture includes breakdown and conflict and a willingness to make missteps. It’s about shining light into our darkest corners and not only not turning away from what we find, but being courageous enough to turn to our partners and say, “look what’s in me,” and generous enough to receive their revelations in kind. Our classmates and teachers are crucial to this process. I feel certain that excellence can only flourish within community.
It is a gift to be in an environment where I am constantly encouraged to unearth my authentic self and share it with my partner, with my classmates, with the world; to relish the power of my imagination, to believe in a world where our craft can illuminate the human experience and create change. I commit to not squandering these gifts. I commit to honoring how far I’ve come, especially on hard days. I commit to this community that I will show up with generosity and a willingness to see and be seen.
The process of learning and discovery that is happening since I started my training here at TK Studio has been extremely rewarding. I see my commitment to excellence in a new way.
I went through the training years ago. I was much younger in many ways. Because I had an excellent experience, I recently began yearning to come back to the training to re-immerse myself at this juncture in my life. I wanted to continue my growth as an actor, to see how much deeper I could take in and assimilate the teaching from where I am now.
I feel extremely grateful to be doing the work here. My approach towards excellence has changed from inorganically driving myself to allowing the natural process of unfolding. That is an exciting shift. The way I approach my craft continues to evolve as I allow myself to relax, take in and be present in my process versus watching it, judging and getting ahead of myself. When I am present with all that arises, without having to immediately react, there is space for a natural and truthful response to come in. That feels more inviting and conducive to growth for me and this, I believe, is a direct result of the awareness and the environment here at the studio.
Every day, I commit to showing up as openly and as available as I can be to take in the training, the technique and to be as open and available to my colleagues as well. I pay attention to my body, my being, my instrument, how it feels to take in and respond, from the point of inviting it all in. It’s exciting. Every new discovery takes me to a new level, becomes a new baseline. It’s this beautiful, curious escalation.
My commitment to excellence is individual but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. For me, it’s profoundly related to and inspired by the community. It’s an environment where I feel safe, where I trust the guidance and the teaching. Terry and the faculty, the staff, my peers, have everything to do with this.
The teachers here are very engaged with the students. They are kind, supportive, respectful and intuitive when it comes to the unfolding. Terry’s passion for his commitment to excellence is palpable. I see the effect on my peers, who are such an integral part of this process for me, given the nature of the work. I see their commitment to their process. I am grateful to each and every one of them for what they have to teach me, too, as I work with them, as I observe their growth, their vulnerability and courage to do the work. There is this incredible feeling of elevating each other to do our level best.
I love and hate this question all at once lol…
Being “committed to excellence” – at least to me – is accepting that you may never achieve pure excellence.
The term ‘excellence’ is extremely subjective and arbitrary. It is different for every single person and one person’s form of excellence should never be compared to, or judged by anyone else’s.
My own personal definition is just to be happy. To achieve excellence is to be happy. Whether it’s getting your dream role on Broadway/TV/Film or finding yourself smiling inexplicably at a butterfly. Who’s to say one isn’t more excellent than the other? Both for me feel childish and giddy, and I haven’t even experienced both…
Very specifically, for what I wish to do and achieve in my career, I find that everything I do in some way helps me achieve my goals. I was tired of waiting for good roles to come my way so I wrote them. I was tired of waiting for festivals to accept those shows with those roles, so I created my own festival, etc. etc. etc…
While I work, train, network, and do all the bull**** that is required of “The Business” – I still make sure I’m doing the things that make me happy. I still make sure I do the things that made me want to go through all of this in the first place.
Hell, even now writing this, I’m watching a show to help me write my first miniseries…
I take every day, evaluate how I feel, and I choose work or rest. Both are necessary for success and ‘excellence’. Accepting and forgiving that sometimes ‘rest’ will win more often than ‘work’ is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do – however, it is so necessary, so worth it, and despite popular belief it is TOTALLY AND ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OKAY TO CHOOSE REST.
Excellence is whatever you make of it. I can’t wait for my Broadway/TV/Film debut, and I know it will happen because I’ve made my own road and am stamping on it’s grounds one foot at a time.
To me, being an artist committed to excellence means walking into the unknown and leaving your inner critic and ego at the door. It is the idea of not being engrossed by the results but to be in the work itself. The more I delve into this work, the more I find that I am not searching to be someone else. I am searching for the true essence of myself and the acceptance of all the beauty and all the mess. The more I know myself, the more I can be free, surrender into this work wholeheartedly and show the world that there is magic in vulnerability.
For me, being an artist ‘committed to excellence’ at TK Studio means being brave. It means working toward a standard of perfection that is nigh unachievable. It’s knowing the near impossibility of success, but working relentlessly to be perfect in spite of that. Accepting nothing less than all I have to give. And then knowing that there will be so much goodness that happens when I fall short… in fact, so much goodness that I don’t fall short at all, and instead I create and give life to something entirely new.
It’s only with TK Studio that this was able to click for me. All of a sudden the parallels between my artistic craft and my relationship to my faith, their parallels, became so clear. And then giving myself over to the not always knowing what might come out of my work became much simpler.
There’s a safety in playing in the imaginary world. The sooner you truly believe you’re safe in imaginary circumstances, that “nobody in class has ever been sent to the hospital because of a feeling” (as Terry likes to say), the sooner you gain access to your heart. You give yourself permission to share your heart through your work. That freedom allows for the “safe” space to become a “brave” space. And I believe that bravery is something you can be proud of.
To me it’s as simple as learning to give myself permission to fall in love with curiosity. You know, that in of itself is curiosity, and love. This pursuit of living a full human life. They gave me the awareness that I can have tremendous pride and ownership over this beautiful form of art. No matter what I think of or what I can come up with I always come back to the core of it. Love. Love makes me desire, love makes me sad, love makes me angry, love makes me happy, LOVE. I think to love something is to be curious about it. Curiosity is an infinite energy source within myself, it’s also very personal and I will never run out of it. I guess that means love is too. See! the loop never ends!!! And how fun is it to love being curious? It can’t get any better. Oh, and no matter what, it’s alright. Because of all that, I think it doesn’t matter how I answer this within myself. Maybe the answer is in the mystery of not fully knowing. Pursuit is more fun than knowing..? Hmmm. There’s faith in that!
Terry once compared this training to relearning how to run. He told us that in order to do that, we need to start by crawling.
This instantly reminded me of three years ago, when I went into physical therapy for a sprained ankle. On my first day of PT they started by asking me to move one toe at a time. One. Single. Toe.
For weeks, they spent minimal time addressing my ankle. Instead, they explained that in order to prevent injury in the future we needed to zoom out, and work on every muscle in the leg. We needed to go back to the fundamentals of how I move, and to the way I use each muscle in each leg when I do even the most basic things. Because the way we do anything is the way we do everything.
I believe that in order to reach a level of excellence in anything, you need to go back to the very beginning, and build your muscles from there. My work at TK studios has confirmed exactly that. I believe what sets this work apart from other acting training is the relentless attention to detail. There is consistent encouragement in class to approach the work the same way I was encouraged to approach PT- with patience, hyper-focus, and trust that the smallest changes can make the biggest difference.
“Being an artist committed to excellence” means always being willing to go back to the foundation and ensuring the strength of each and every muscle. Because we can only run the way we’ve always dreamt of if we’ve first prepared each and every toe.
It means the world to me. Commitment is everything. I’m not a religious man but acting is my form of church and I treat it as such. Every time I step on that stage, it’s sacred. I always strive to tell the best possible story. I live by a simple philosophy: what comes from the heart, goes to the heart. This is how I approach the work and I’m happy to pay the cost of admission, which is my heart. That’s also Terry in a nutshell. The work is sacred to him. He leads with his heart and the best way I know how to honor him and my peers, is to bare it all. That’s the only option on the table. It’s the same with Terry. You can see how much he loves and cares for this work, which only pushes me to dig deeper.
Being committed to excellence, has meant showing up even when it’s hard, and especially when it’s scary. It’s been a battle against myself and a realization that all the tools I have ever needed to be an actor already exist inside of me. While at TK Studio I have learned to gently and compassionately peel back each layer of myself, so that I may exist exactly as I am. By not judging myself or my journey, but by allowing myself to grow on my own time, I can confidently say that I will one day achieve the excellence that I committed myself to. I will end this with a simple note of gratitude saying, that I would not be where I am now nor where I will be in the future without the encouragement and support of my teachers at TK Studio.