I’m a New York transplant. Originally born in Los Angeles, CA, I moved to NYC in the Fall of 2013 to study Drama at NYU Tisch, where I had Terry Knickerbocker as one of my teachers. Terry gave me invaluable tools on acting, and life. Recently, I started to work at the Terry Knickerbocker Studio as an administrative assistant. A few weeks prior, Terry was in Los Angeles to teach a week-long workshop for the first time.
People were always wondering when Terry would teach in Los Angeles and up until recently, we weren’t sure, because we didn’t know how much interest there was.
Then generously, Sam Rockwell, the 2018 recipient of “Best Supporting Actor” for his film Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri (and one of Terry’s long-time students), mentioned Terry in his Oscar acceptance speech, his Golden Globe Speech, and numerous other places.
This provided the jumpstart we needed. Terry wanted to do the workshop in LA “to spread the word.” Past students of Terry’s had been asking when he would be coming to LA, so he felt it was the ideal time, with Sam’s word-of-mouth publicity still fresh.
The class Terry put together was a melting pot, with actors from all different backgrounds and work experience.
But why? If actors are working, why would they need to take class? It seems almost counterintuitive, right?
“I think most actors need to go to the gym. If they’re not in a show, then a class like this can be like a gym,” Terry said.
He decided on pre-assigning scenes. “They come in with ideas so you don’t start from scratch, you start from them already having put some paint on the canvas. Some of it is really good paint, some of it needs to start all over.”
The workshop showed how dedicated Terry’s students are. What I found to be particularly interesting was observing Terry teaching- (watching him watching the actors) gave way to a wonderful (however small) insight as to what goes through his mind as he teaches. While working, Terry side-coaches his actors during rehearsal which helps to steer the actors on a certain path, or perhaps show them a new way to get to the same destination.
“I function more as a director than a teacher in these classes; I mean, I’m teaching them certain things that are universal. You’re getting something, hopefully, from watching the other scenes that are universal principles about acting, or meaning, or script analysis.”
Terry said that his favorite part of doing the workshop was “watching them grow, watching people figure stuff out. There was a scene from Proof,” (the 2000 Tony Award winner for Best Play). “I’ve done that [scene] thirty times at least. But these actors cast [themselves] opposite to what they would normally be cast, by choice. That was useful. They did that on purpose.” The actors actively chose to take on the roles that are the least like who they are in real life. This is just what these kind of classes can be helpful for.
One of the actors, Katherine Banos, said this on thinking back:
“When I found out Terry was offering a master class in LA this year, I knew I had to jump at the opportunity. I had previously worked with Terry in the Experimental Theater Wing at NYU and at the Terry Knickerbocker Studio. Terry is kind, passionate, and brilliant. Working with him during the LA Master Class felt like home and made me fall in love with the craft all over again. He challenged me in the work and invited me to reconnect to the art and beauty of acting, which is sometimes easy to fall out of touch with in a town that is very business oriented. I’m so grateful that Terry shared his time with us.”
Terry is hoping to go to Chicago, Vancouver, Ireland, Australia, Atlanta- “anywhere that has actors hungry to do this kind of work.” If you would like Terry to visit your city, please let us know at email@example.com Stay tuned to hear about Terry’s upcoming workshops and Master Classes.