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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: 3998

  • NYFA Instructor Wins Directing Awards for “The Engine of our Ruin”

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    engine is in our ruinWith politics at the forefront of our daily news, it’s refreshing to see New York Film Academy Acting for Film instructor Maria Gobetti’s thought-provoking political play “The Engine of Our Ruin,” which played at The Victory Theatre Center in Burbank, California.

    Written by Jason Wells and directed by Gobetti, the play provides plenty of laughs but also offers some chewy nuggets of political give-and-take to savor. One wrong word or one wrong inflection can lead to crisis in our volatile modern world.

    The play is an LA Times Critics Pick that has won several awards, including Gobetti’s 2016 Arts in LA Stage Award for Directing. The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle (LADCC) recently announced its nominations and special awards for excellence in Los Angeles, and The Milton Katselas Award for career or special achievement in direction went to Maria Gobetti.

    Set in a luxury hotel suite somewhere in the Middle East, diplomat Charles Manning-Jourdain meets with delegates of an unfriendly nation in the hope that a simple trade agreement will bring their two countries closer together. But this routine mission quickly becomes an international incident thanks to an idealistic interpreter with an agenda of her own; a belligerent official who brings a rumor of war; and Charles’s own staffers, whose attempts to cover up an after-hours party might just topple a foreign government.

    engine of our ruin

    “This was one of the best directing experiences I’ve had, and I’ve directed over 80 plays — most of which have been world premieres,” said director Gobetti. “I could not have done this without experienced actors. Students should know that these actors were always prepared, always ready to work, and had great ideas. I did not have to ever ‘coach,’ only ‘direct’ actors who were already making strong choices.”

    Gobetti and Tom Ormeny, co-artistic directors of the Victory Theatre Center, are pleased to announce their next project — the first production of their season scheduled to rock the Little Victory — the world premiere of “Pie in the Sky.” Directed by Gobetti and produced by Ormeny, Katie Witkowski, and co-produced by Gail Bryson, “Pie in Sky” is set to begin previews on March 10 and is scheduled to run from March 17 through May 23.

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    March 2, 2017 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Musical Theatre • Views: 3434

  • NYFA Grad Produces ‘5boys’ with All-Female Cast

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    5boys

    The New York Film Academy is proud to announce the New York City premiere of 5boys, an award-winning play by the Slovenian playwright Simona Semenič. Produced by NYFA Acting alumna Sandra Herlog, directed by NYFA Instructor Rico Rosetti and featuring an all-female, all-Swedish cast of former NYFA students!

    The female cast portrays the young male characters of Blaž, Vid, Krištof, Jurij and Denis, who initially meet up to play in an empty lot. The innocent games they create — superheroes, house, cowboys & Indians — slowly, and inadvertently, expose a deep-rooted legacy to the violence, misogyny, bigotry and homophobia in our modern world. Blending humor, physical action and an unflinching honesty, 5boys invites its audience to view the world as seen through the eyes of 10-11 year old boys.

    5boys cast

    Photos by Luis Alarcon – Edit by Ellinor Denkert – Poster by Ellinor Denkert and Sandra Herlog – Graphic Design by Linnea Larsdotter

    “Last summer while visiting a friend in Norway I came upon 5boys,” recalls Herlog. “Sometimes there’s those special pieces of art that linger, they effect you and they won’t let go, and that’s what 5boys did to me. It’s a brilliant and raw piece—daring, violent, comedic, honest—and it’s written for an all female cast, which is not exactly the most common thing. Realizing it’s never been up here in NYC there was no doubt about it, I had to make it happen. So I got in touch with the author, got the rights, and started the journey of putting things together.”

    While the performance is being held for 7 days, Herlog hopes for a second run and perhaps even a tour.

    Herlog appreciates her time at NYFA, and admits it was crucial in terms of producing this play. “The networking and the connections I made during my time as a student is what made 5boys become a reality. Rico Rosetti (director, mentor and the one helping me out with exactly everything) was my former teacher. The cast are alumni and current students. The photographer is a TA. The whole crew and everyone building sets is a former student or TA. Yes, 95% of the whole 5boys production is generated through NYFA, and all my questions and concerns have been solved through the contacts I’ve made there. I’m extremely grateful to have found these incredible people.”

    5boys runs May 12-17th at the Access Theater in New York City. Tickets are free of charge and available at www.brownpapertickets.com.

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    May 13, 2015 • Acting, Musical Theatre, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4278

  • NYFA’s Sara Antkowiak Stars in ‘Pretty Babies’

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    pretty babiesLast week was the World Premiere of the new Anthony Raymond play, Pretty Babies, which stars New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Instructor Sara Antkowiak (Tales of Hoffmann/Metropolitan Opera).

    The ensemble cast, directed by Raymond and produced by the critically acclaimed Elsinore County Theater Company, is led by Stacey Roca who had a recurring role as Rachel on the UK series The Office with Ricky Gervais.

    Pretty Babies is a story about using the taboo and forbidden as weapons in a no-holds-barred scheme of manipulation. The play revolves around Jason and his sister Randi — two lives steeped in sex, drugs, and grifting.

    Already off to a roaring start, Pretty Babies will continue its performances from now until March 21st at the newly renovated 13th St Rep Theater in New York City.

    If you’re interested in checking out this wonderful play, and supporting your fellow NYFA teacher, visit here for tickets!

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    March 2, 2015 • Community Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 4905

  • Catching up with NYFA’s Musical Theatre Department

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    The New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Department had an excellent winter season in New York City. Some of our faculty went on national tours, some continued in current shows, and others moved to new productions with great promise, such as Kevin Duda who was in Book of Mormon and currently in the new musical Beautiful.

    The second year group completed their movie musical titled, Walk the Walk, a comic adventure where six guys awaken the morning after a night out to discover they are now women. Final edit is now complete, those actors have graduated, and excerpts of the film will soon to be available on the website.

    Chinese mtI should also mention that our wonderful Performance Lab teacher Mark Price visited Korea to teach master classes at schools and art academies. His work was very well received and this summer five students from Korea will join us for our four-week summer intensive.

    Our main attraction, however, and the event that occurred that has everyone in the program really beaming, was our first full-length production. Yes, indeed! Emerging New York director Nathan Brewer (assistant director for Disney’s Aladdin) led a strong team of NYFA staff, including the highly talented choreographer Chad Austin and musical director Anna Ebbesen, and a hugely talented and energized cast of Musical Theatre students to launch on May 1st, an effective production of Spring Awakening. The production was installed at the American Theatre of Actors on 54th street in Manhattan, which proved to be the perfect venue.

    Spring Awakening MT

    This is the beginning of a new initiative where NYFA will be producing new original musical readings and launching full-scale productions several times a year. Following the close of Spring Awakening, we were given the thrill of seeing a lovely first semester showcase and a very rousing, double bill, end of year showcase. Here’s a photo of the end of year showcase cast rehearsing a number just days before their performance.

    MT Rehearsal

    We are in the midst of shooting yet another movie musical, the next second year class finished their final films and presented a terrific final showcase event, other classes in residence are staying busy with dancing, singing, and acting classes. And everyone is excited in anticipation of what looks to be a record-breaking summer attendance for our four-week July intensives and the start of a new second year and one-year class.

    We had the good fortune of having Tony award winning actress and one of America’s artistic treasures, Tonya Pinkins, come in and present a fabulous master class for our students. Her teaching, like her performing, was generous, specific, bold, healing, and extraordinarily humane. In addition to working with a number of students, she spoke to everyone and gave expert advice about the profession.

    Tonya Pinkins

    Lots of good work is happening here in our program in New York. Join us and come to know the best of what musical theatre at NYFA has to offer!

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    June 10, 2014 • Musical Theatre • Views: 4913