Philosophy

Terry Knickerbocker’s Personal Philosophy of Art and Pedagogy

Much of what I teach is practical and artistic: I want to help ambitious actors learn to act at the highest expression of their abilities and talent. The atmosphere I aim to create in class is one where creativity can flower, one in which anything can be expressed, as long as it is expressed safely, consciously, and responsibly. This encourages students to take ownership for what they express, in the context of the class, and ultimately in the world in which we all live.

The training also has everything to do with growing as a human being. I want to facilitate a learning space where students are continuously deepening their self-understanding, while also opening and connecting to the rich and diverse humanity of others.

I believe art is essential for all of us in every corner of the world. Art speaks to what is both uniquely personal in each of us, and that which is universal. Art helps us all understand what it is to be human on this earth together.

I encourage every student to experience as much art as they can—not only plays and films, but also fine art, dance, music, photography, poetry and the written word. At the same time it is essential to deepen our curiosity for culture and the ongoing banquet of everyday experiences that the world offers us, day and night. I encourage my students to be a sponge—and get out into the world and experience art and life. New York is an amazing crucible for the curious and adventurous actor.

Art isn’t always pretty or popular. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable. Artists must be true to the inner voice that tells them which brushstroke to put here, and which to put there—not heeding the critical voices both inner and outer which seek to silence the “controversial” artist. It often takes immense courage to be an artist and dare to express that which seems scary. I aim to create a brave space in all our classrooms where artists feel they can take risks and continually take themselves to their edges.

What we as artists do is essential, perhaps even revolutionary in its power—both good for us to express what we must express, and for our precious audiences—who receive a powerful gift each time an actor opens her mouth and speaks the speech. Art and artists aren’t always valued, so it’s incredibly brave to take the risk to become one —and we would be honored if you would take it with us.

Our Core Philosophy

At Terry Knickerbocker Studio, while we live in pursuit of the deep and abiding power of our art, we are captivated by excellence in all things—so much so that the pursuit of excellence is the guiding principle of our studio.

We built this studio into a haven where we value personal and professional quality, meaningful relationships, true learning, and respect for each other above all else. We hold ourselves and each other accountable to our own excellence.

There are no shortcuts to becoming really and truly good at something; that said, we maintain that striving for greatness naturally leads to success. When you show up, every day, every minute, every second, and offer the best you have, you will develop skills and open doors you never knew you had the keys to.

You will not find success in each and every minute of your practice—you will get it wrong so much more than you will get it right. Everyone has to fall down in order to learn to walk. Our Studio culture prioritizes learning and process and steady progress over shallow and inconsistent results—with the ultimate goal to learn to produce high-quality results consistently.

Those who practice this attitude, who endeavor to deliver their best work while considering failure a gift, are the artists we want to work with. We nurture a thriving community full of individuals who hold these values as sacred—who continue on into the world as ambassadors of this philosophy of artistic excellence.

How Do We Accomplish This?

At TK Studio, we don’t ever promise a safe space—there is perhaps no such thing, truly. We do, however, offer a space as safe as possible knowing that harm can happen unintentionally, even despite our best efforts. We thus invite our students to a brave space, a space to take risks, and a space to explore the full range of human emotions and experiences. Here’s how we cultivate such a space:

  • We keep our studio at a modest size, to accommodate our focus on true learning and relationship building. We are a smaller, more intensely focused studio for people who follow a north star to being the very best artist they can be.
  • Our faculty, staff, and students are here to facilitate the exploration and expansion of our knowledge of art and life, and specifically our understanding of the art and craft of acting. We teach tools and a process to achieve that. Every class, every rehearsal, every time we sit down to do our artistic homework, every moment in life offers us an opportunity to learn and to grow.
  • We believe that you cannot run a reputable, modern, valuable school without Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging as an integral part of the studio’s philosophy. Consideration for DEIB and intersectionality is not unique to TK Studio, but is nonetheless essential in the operation of our studio.
  • We refuse to rush our teachings, instead preferring to leave room for conversations, introspection, digging deep, and connecting to one another.
  • We view the artist holistically, taking exquisite care with their dreams, their fears, their lived experiences, and circumstances both within and outside of their control.

If your philosophy aligns with ours, we enthusiastically invite you to learn more.