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  • New York Film Academy’s Peter Allen Stone Leads Introductory Acting Workshop for Veterans

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    There are many actors that have served in the military prior to discovering their talents on a film set or theatres’ stage. Gene Hackman, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and even Mr. T are just a small sampling of those who wore the uniform before hitting it big in Hollywood.

    Veterans aspiring to the screen were invited from across the tri-state area for a very special introductory workshop to Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy last weekend.

    Under the energetic tutelage of NYFA Acting for Film Chair Peter Allen Stone, attendees found the acting exercises to be engaging and enjoyable as they worked through dialogue designed to help students better understand acting in front of the camera.

    Dozens of service members, many of whom are producers, writers, and directors in their own respect, were excited to offer their first lines in front of a rolling camera.

    “Acting is fun!” radiated Peter Allen Stone at the conclusion of the class. “Thank you all for your work today — it’s really great when there is a lot of energy and people are passionate about learning these techniques.”

    After the class, New York Film Academy’s Division of Veteran Services’ staff was on hand to offer assistance about Department of Veteran Affairs-related benefits.

    A participant checks his mark and waits for “Action!” as Chair of NYFA Acting for Film Program Peter Stone sets the scene.

    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) has been privileged to enroll more than 1,500 veteran students and military dependents at our campuses in New York City, NY, Los Angeles, CA, and South Beach, FL., since 2009. The Los Angeles and South Beach campuses also participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which allows eligible veterans and dependents in many cases the opportunity to go to school tuition and fee free. The honorable Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient and on-air military strategist for NBC/MSNBC, is the Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program.

    Join us on Facebook or go to www.NYFA.edu/veterans for more information.

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  • New York Film Academy Master Class With Lyle Kessler Wraps With Impressive Performances

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    NYFA Master Class with Lyle Kessler

    NYFA Master Class with Lyle Kessler

    This December, students from the New York Film Academy’s Acting for Film 2-Year Conservatory performed scenes written and directed by renowned actor/playwright Lyle Kessler. The performances were the culmination of an 8-Week Master Class taught by Kessler, who has been an icon in the world of theatre for several decades.

    Kessler studied acting under industry legend Lee Strasberg and has been a longtime member of the famed Actor’s Studio. Kessler had the opportunity to play Strasberg in the 2001 biopic “James Dean.”

    Kessler is best known as a playwright though, with numerous works that have helped shape the modern era of American theatre. For Peter Allen Stone, New York Film Academy’s Chair of Acting for Film, Kessler was a vital part of his education. “I used to dig through his plays in my college library looking for monologues and scenes many years ago,” remarked Stone, “so it was something special for me to get to know him and come full circle.”

    Scene from "The Display Man"

    Scene from “The Display Man”

    The best known work written by Kessler is “Orphans,” which first debuted in 1983 at Chicago’s world-renowned Steppenwolf Theatre and was originally directed by Gary Sinise. It was later adapted into a feature film starring Matthew Modine and Albert Finney, and has been performed on Broadway as recently as 2013 with Alec Baldwin and Ben Foster.

    After running the playwriting division of the Actor’s Studio in Los Angeles for many years, Kessler is still active and working with the Actor’s Studio in New York City. The NYFA students attending Kessler’s Master Class were able to visit the Actor’s Studio as part of their course. Student Elizabeth Hopland reflected that “going to the Actor’s Studio was a highlight of my acting career so far, thanks to Lyle.”

    The NYFA students who were privileged to work with Kessler started in Fall 2016, and began their 2nd Year training in the summer of 2017. Each session of the 8-week Master Class focused on a specific aspect of the craft, like the inner anger of a particular character. The acting students worked on scenes from new works written by Kessler, who directed and worked closely with them throughout the course.

    Scene from "Prisoner"

    Scene from “Prisoner”

    The scenes were two-person dialogues, with the acting students performing multiple roles and plays. One of Kessler’s new works included “Prisoner,” about a privileged woman tied up during a burglary, who poked and prodded her captor while trying to learn more about him. Other new works included “The Display Man” and “The Great Divide,” the latter concerning two brothers dealing with a woman claiming to be pregnant with the older brother’s child.

    The final session of the Master Class included performances of the scenes for a small audience, including New York Film Academy president Michael Young. The final scenes of the evening were from another of Kessler’s new works—“Temptation”—about inappropriate sexual behavior between a psychiatrist and his patient, a story and theme that is especially relevant in today’s current Hollywood climate.

    Kessler Directing "Prisoner"

    Kessler Directing “Prisoner”

    One of the performers, student Agnes Hedwall Schmidt, remarked “What I liked most about working with Lyle was the way he made the work a collaboration. We give him our view of the text and the character, he gives his, and together we create a scene that is so much fun to act in, and allows me to keep growing and learning as an actor.” Schmidt added, “I had so much fun working with Lyle!”

    The appreciation was mutual—the performances ended with Kessler thanking the students for their strong, courageous work, and the students overwhelmingly thanking Kessler for his invaluable training and direction. Of the students, Kessler said he was “very impressed by the work and talent of the group of actors at NYFA who acted in my plays. They kept growing in their roles. A real commitment.”

    The Acting for Film students couldn’t ask for a better compliment from an artist of Kessler’s stature. The New York Film Academy thanks Lyle Kessler for giving our students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study and learn from one of the theatre world’s greats.

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    December 22, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 2523

  • The Collaborative Process of Storytelling

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    Meet Peter Allen Stone, an actor and teacher at the New York Film Academy who helped create the successful play Unnatural Acts. Receiving 3 Drama Desk Nominations including “Best Play”, it played to sold out houses at Classic Stage Company in New York City and its run was extended three times due to popular demand. Based on a true story about Harvard University in the 1920’s, five academic deans set out to eradicate the homosexual population at the school. The play exposes the inquisition of students and the struggles young men faced as sexual minorities. A native of San Joaquin Valley in California, Peter Stone decided to become an actor at age four after seeing a production of Annie. At age 18, he obtained management and had a small role in a television show called Saved by the Bell: The New Class. After taking coursework at California State University in Long Beach, his professors who were also veterans on Broadway encouraged him to pursue it fully. As he says, “[They] really taught me that acting was about ‘doing’ and not just saying lines.”

    What has been your experience working with the Plastic Theatre Company? 

    Working on Unnatural Acts has been the most fulfilling time in my life. We worked on the play for a period of time with no money or guarantees. This story is one that came from the heart. We knew this story needed to be told. There were three suicides. I feel honored to be a part of it, and blessed that the ghosts of these students are finally having their stories told. Working as a collective was interesting and challenging at times. However, the group that was assembled knew that the play was bigger than any one of us. We debated, argued, and challenged each other–but always for the sake of the play. We started with the source material from Harvard. We had over 450 pages of handwritten material written by the Deans from their interrogations of the students. As a group, we went through it all and tried to connect the dots while honoring the truth. Some of the writing was barely legible and difficult to read. I felt like an archaeologist discovering a secret world.

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    June 20, 2012 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 3762