Thursday, August 29, 2013

Theatre Conservatory Instructor Donald Amerson: Everything It Takes to be a Great Teacher, Plus He’s Fun!

When SCR Theatre Conservatory Director Hisa Takakuwa hires a new instructor in the Teen and Kids Acting Program, she sets her sights high.  The latest addition to the staff meets all of her criteria. His name is Donald Amerson, and his credits are endless.  Here are a few:

  • Master of Fine Arts/Drama, Eastern Michigan University 
  • Acting Coach and Teaching Artist, Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles
  • Adjunct Professor, Eastern Michigan University 
  • Teaching Artist:  Young Actors Guild, Ann Arbor, MI; Detroit-Grosse Point Collaborative; Youthville, Detroit; Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles
And that’s just his education and teaching experience.  Amerson is also an actor and a director, who has appeared in shows from Michigan—his home state—to New York and staged plays for numerous theatres in Michigan as well as for The Producers Club in New York and Plaza De La Raza in Los Angeles. 

All of this is impressive, but it’s only the beginning. According to Takakuwa, Amerson has those extra traits that make a good teacher, especially when working with young people.

“He treats the students with incredible compassion and respect, and his enthusiasm for the craft is infectious. That shows in class where he explores creatively with his students, making use of puppetry, mask work, music and all theatrical forms of storytelling.”

Amerson also fits comfortably into SCR’s acting program, which stresses “process” over “product.” This means sharing and exploring the craft (process) of acting rather that emphasizing the creation or performance (product) of plays, and it’s at the heart of Takakuwa’s teaching philosophy.  “While these skills can set a strong foundation for becoming a professional artist, they are invaluable life skills, and Donald has a natural affinity for this approach,” she says.

After teaching Year I students last season, followed by one class in each of the Summer Acting Workshops, Amerson is settling in happily.  “It's been a real pleasure teaching students with such a wide array of experiences and future ambitions.  I look forward to building on those experiences as I teach Year II this fall.”

Among the students benefiting from Amerson’s experience—and enthusiasm—during his first year as an SCR instructor is Natalie Sepulveda, who, besides thinking that Amerson is “ a very, very fun teacher,” also observes, “The training we get in his class helps us learn what it’s really like to be in the theatre.”

Learn more about SCR Conservatory classes.

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