Friday, December 28, 2012

Back to Basics: Karen Hensel Teaches "Acting III"

Karen Hensel with students.
In the world of actor training, Karen Hensel is renowned as the founding instructor of Actor’s Workshop, the most advanced class in SCR’s Adult Acting Program. And for good reason. A successful actor in her own right, Karen is the program’s director as well as a longtime member of the SCR company.

Karen with Richard Doyle in 
Frankie and
Johnny in the Clair de Lune.
Now there’s great news for students who are advancing through the program but are not yet ready for Actor’s Workshop. For the first time, Karen has put Acting III on her teaching schedule. A popular class for students with prior training, either at SCR or elsewhere, the class is a final step before they advance to Actors Workshop. Karen will be at the helm when winter classes begin on Jan. 14.
Among those already registered for Acting III are several repeat students.

Darren Nash probably holds the record as a frequent Karen Hensel student. He has taken—more than once—Acting III and Actors Workshop, and he’s a graduate of the Professional Intensive Program, an eight-week summer course for career-minded actors. According to Darren, “Anything I have achieved as an actor is directly due to the skills I acquired from Karen’s instruction.”

And, he will repeat Acting III this winter. Why again? “Just to be in the same room with her infectious joy for the art of acting—and to re-connect with why I decided to be an actor in the first place.” Darren has guest-starred on the Biography channel and appeared onstage at Shakespeare Orange County.

Acting III delves deeper into technique. But because she can’t know the newcomers to her class immediately, Karen begins with small steps. On the first day of class, students fill out a confidential questionaire, which allows her to understand them more completely and help with their specific problems and concerns.

Karen Hensel with Hal Landon Jr. in A Chrismas Carol
According to Karen, “They’ll have the option of choosing their own scenes and monlogues or taking suggestions from me. I’m very excited to be teaching at this level because it gives me the opportunity to work on the emotional connection to a script and gives my students a chance to think about where they feel the need for more work.”

Among Karen’s acting credits are major roles in SCR productions, including Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, with Founding Artist Richard Doyle, which went on to the Singapore Theatre Festival, and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award-winning Top Girls. Karen appeared on Broadway in Zoot Suit, and her many television credits include 18 years and counting as Doris on “The Young and the Restless.” She was seen most recently in her annual role as Mrs. Fezziwig in SCR’s A Christmas Carol. Karen has taught acting at Santa Clara University and is a faculty member at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where she teaches Acting Styles.

According to Founding Artistic Director David Emmes, “Karen has a distinguished career as an artist, but one of her greatest gifts is helping students discover their inner potential as actors.”

That about sums it up. And her students agree.

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