Monday, November 9, 2015

You’re Never Too Old for Acting Classes at SCR

Acting student Ginger Nelson (on lap) works on an improv piece with other students and teacher Greg Atkins (standing).
Who are the Instructors?

When SCR touts its Adult Acting Program as being taught by working professional actors, some might be inclined to say, “prove it!”

Gladly! Take the program’s newest instructor—and Nelson’s Act II teacher—Emily Heebner. Her career has taken her from L.A. to New York and in between, as an actor, director and instructor.

Emily Heebner
Heebner had a leading role in the first national tour of the Broadway hit, Noises Off and has worked at regional theatres across the country. (The New York Times called her Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival “fascinatingly foxy”). She was a resident artist at LA’s A Noise Within, where she won Drama-Logue Awards for her roles as Belinda in Engaged and Belise in The Learned Ladies.

But in a way, Heebner’s career began when she made her Equity debut as Jennie Mae in SCR’s production of The Diviners, directed by Founding Artistic Director Martin Benson. “I had just completed my first regional show—as Maggie in After the Fall at Berkeley Rep—and I used a piece from that show when I auditioned for The Diviners,” she recalls. The actor Randy Oglesby and I drove down from L.A. for the open call—and Martin cast us both! I learned a great deal during that show, and just a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to direct The Diviners at Antelope Valley College. That was a thrill—to come full circle.”

Which she’s doing again—as an SCR instructor.

BTW, Nelson’s first season as a student was Emily’s first as an SCR instructor, which worked out well for them both.

“That class was a great introduction to the Adult Acting Program for me," Heebner says. "Everyone was very close and supportive of each other, and Ginger worked so hard and grew so much. It was a pleasure having her with us. I think having students of multiple ages is a gift. Everyone benefits, including the instructor!”
Who are the Students?

SCR’s Theatre Conservatory includes a variety of acting classes for ages 8 and up. The littlest students attend the Kids and Teen Program, and the most serious/career-minded adults opt for the seven-week Acting Intensive Program.

Who falls in between? Everyone else! If you’re 18 years of age or over and interested in personal growth and development, meeting new people, polishing communication skills, developing spontaneity or all the above, the Adult Acting Program has a class for you.

Ginger, left, works with more students and teacher, Greg.
Thinking about an acting career but need a solid program to polish up your skills? There’s an advanced classes for you.

Just as there’s no age limit on enjoying life, SCR knows that you’re never too old for the Adult Acting Program. “Senior citizens” prove that year after year. Take Ginger Nelson. At age 77, she worried about being the oldest student—and not being great at memorizing dialogue. What made her decide to take the plunge?

“I told Di and Emily about my nerves, but haven’t told Greg yet. I plan to grit my teeth and simply do it.” (Uh-oh…now he knows!)
“I’d been thinking about it for a long time,” she says. “My husband and I are subscribers and I’ve seen the signs for acting classes in the lobby. I finally figured that I might as well do it while I can. After all, I’m not getting any younger!”

When she first signed up for Act I (Basic Skills), she was a little nervous. Well, more than a little. “I was scared to death!” she admits. “And I still get nervous. But the instructors have been very supportive, starting with Di Bubano, my first teacher.”

When Nelson completed the Act I, a couple of her classmates suggested she take Act II. “I automatically said ‘no way,’ but after I thought about it, I figured I had nothing to lose. And I loved it,” she recalls, “even though there was more memorization and my memory stinks!”

Again, her instructor made all the difference. “Emily Heebner took up where Di left off. She treats every student with the same kind of importance, respect and interest. I feel very fortunate to have been in her class.”

And that wasn’t the end for Nelson. She’s now in Greg Atkins’ Improvisation I class. “Improv is so much fun. It’s challenging but in a different way.”

Learn more about SCR's Theatre Conservatory classes.

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