|Acting Intensive Program Director Karen Hensel, right, works with students on their final performance.|
.Adult Learners and Professional Actors Hone Skills
Karen Hensel is always happy to talk about acting and teaching acting. It’s her passion and she loves working with adult students.
“Many times, adults don’t even think about how useful acting classes can be—for their business careers, for personal development or if their passion is just community theatre,” says Hensel, who directs the adult-level acting courses at South Coast Repertory’s Theatre Conservatory. “Our program offers small classes and a safe and nurturing place where people can discover more about themselves and their acting talent.”
|Special guest speakers Kathy Bates and Arye Gross.|
“All my teachers are active actors,” says Hensel, whose own career spans film, television and stage credits including “The Young and the Restless,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “The Practice,” “ER,” “LA Law” and others. Her long-time association with SCR includes roles in Childe Byron, Cloud 9, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Hay Fever, A Christmas Carol and The Heiress. Her true passions are the theatre and teaching.
|Students Dennis Pearson and Rick Reiff|
For SCR’s adult-level acting classes, Hensel brings in guest speakers and instructors, like actors Kathy Baker and Ayre Gross, who give their insights into the actor’s craft.
Rick Reiff, public affairs executive producer and host with Southern California Public Broadcasting (SoCalPBS) and executive editor of the Orange County Business Jornal, first got involved in the Acting Intensive Program in the late 1990s.
“You learn things about yourself, about plays, about dialogue,” he says. He still uses the class techniques today in his television work.
And as a playgoer, Rieff says he “really appreciates the craft of the people up there, because you realize how hard it is.”
Actor Dennis Pearson, who made his SCR debut in 2012 as Young Marley in A Christmas Carol, took the Acting Intensive Program last summer. He found it to be one of the best programs to help him “make the transition from the academic world to the professional world.”
“I have a better sense of business with the craft [of acting],” he says. “The program did a great job of working on my all-around technique, but I view myself as a product in many ways. I know how to market and I’ve been working on ways to grow myself both as a business man and as an artist.”
|Hal Landon, Jr., right, works with students on a scene.|
|Director Art Manke, background, directs a scenes with students.|
Hensel also sees lifetime connections come out of the program: “Our students form tight-knit groups and become a true ensemble.”
She is proud that students stay in touch not only with each other, but with SCR and the Conservatory faculty.
“They do get personal attention and then we watch them take their skills and reach out further than acting.”
|Program Director Karen Hensel, left, and students.|
“It does give everyone a sense of polish and confidence,” she says. “Acting helps you control how you speak, how you organize your thoughts and instills a good sense of discipline that applies not just to acting, but life in general.”
Hensel is energized about the adult acting classes and the acting intensive courses.
“I’m passionate about it because graduates tell me it’s made a difference in their lives.”