Story by Ben Clark
Photos by Alicia Alderete
SPHS drama classes had the opportunity to perform alongside professional actors at the “actor invasion,” a two-day event that was introduced by drama teacher Mr. Nick Hoffa last year.
Several talented film and television actors, including CSI’s Mitchell Fink and former Grey’s Anatomy star Jerricka Hinton, arrived on Wednesday, October 25 and Friday, October 27 to act alongside students in scenes that they have spent several weeks rehearsing. Many participants say that some of their best acting has resulted from the event.
“It’s really a great experience to get to work with someone who is so professional and so grounded.” says Anders Keith, a former participant, “[The professional actors] bring you down to earth and bring the best out of you.”
At the beginning of each class, Mr. Hoffa welcomed the actors, whom he knows through the industry, and introduced them to students so the performances could begin. Students took turns rehearsing with one of nine professionals before each pair took to the stage to perform together. The scenes ranged from quiet moments of David Howard’s Electric Roses to humorous takes on Sydney Pollack’s Tootsie. Though some scenes were repeated by different groups, each performance was drastically different from the last, making every scene interesting to watch.
Various students explained afterward that they felt incredibly natural while delivering their lines. Being able to act alongside people who were experienced and knew how to play a role in a realistic and understandable way, allowed them to feel the lines as conversational responses rather than simply reciting them. Every student who performed a scene with one of the actors was incredibly convincing in both their delivery and their body movements, truly becoming the characters that they were supposed to be.
The “actor invasion” was not just a significant experience for the students, however. Many professionals expressed joy at the ability to work alongside the next generation of actors.
“The best part about working with students is coming back to where I started.” says Craig Welzbacher, an actor who frequently guest stars on Modern Family, “This is the gestation period of becoming an actor.”
After the performances, the actors stuck around to answer students’ questions regarding acting as well as the business of acting. Drama students were treated to professional advice that provided insight into how to make a career in acting possible.
When “actor invasion” came to an end on Friday, the drama class left with a greater understanding of both the way that the world of acting works and the craft itself.