Last week, Bethany Simons audited segments of a four-day acting intensive with renowned acting coach Larry Moss – student of legendary teachers Sanford Meisner and Stella Adler.
Presented by Melbourne’s 16th Street Actors Studio, this workshop provided an incredible opportunity for actors of all levels of training and experience to work under and observe Larry’s technique… or is it magic?
Larry Moss enters and the room erupts into applause. Acknowledging the 200 auditors from under his cap, Larry takes his seat in the front row of the seating bank. It’s 9am. The doors to the theatre at Chapel off Chapel lock, and a moment later, we enter the sacred world of the rehearsal process.
Featuring a selection of scenes for two actors, Larry’s workshop model allows him to spend two separate one-hour sessions on each set text. As a scene is performed Larry watches keenly, writing notes and often jumping up to provide highly articulate directions, script analysis and insights that are rooted in the given circumstances of the scene and the world of the writer. His constant reminder is simple, but key: the play really is the thing.
Watching the actors, my body experienced the strange combination of utter fear and intimidation mixed with an intense desire to throw myself on stage and work. After the final scene of the workshop, I pulled aside participating actors Olivia Simone and Damien Bodie to find out firsthand what it was like to work with Larry.
A graduate of NIDA, Simone has continued her training here in Melbourne at 16th Street and was an auditor at Larry’s previous masterclass. This year, she plucked up the courage to apply to participate as an actor.
“When I watched him the first time I was petrified to actually do the acting. I heard all the feedback and thought, ‘OK, I’ve got a year for myself to get ready as an actor’. When I applied and got in, I was ready to do it. I had the self-love Larry talks about. I’d done the voice work and been to therapy. I had dealt with my stuff so the play became the most important thing. It was absolutely the most amazing thing ever. It’s the highlight of an actor’s year.”
Coming from a television background, Bodie has trained with various teachers, but regards Larry as the best in the business. His workshop experience was profound.
“It was very emotional. The reason I didn’t hesitate to do this class was because I knew I was going to fail, but for a good reason. I was willing to move into the worst house on the best street. I knew it was going to be something I needed to further me in my career: waking up to juicy material and how hard you really have to work.”
[pull_left]Do not miss Larry Moss because it will be the best money you’ve every spent. It’s an investment in yourself – in who you are and in understanding the art form. That’s why it’s even worth auditing[/pull_left]
Witnessing the development and growth of each scene from first run to living, breathing, engaged performance proved how much an actor can grow with Larry in a single session if they are willing to let go. As Larry says, “Let’s go there. Let’s play for real.”
I was quite moved by the whole experience and cannot recommend it highly enough – not just for actors, but anyone who is interested in the actor’s process. In fact anyone interested in the human experience should consider auditing, even if only for one day.
More than just watching, auditing is an active process that allows one to learn through observation and analysis. As an auditor, I was on the edge of my seat. And I was in good company. Dotted amongst the crowd were some of Melbourne’s leading stage and screen actors, all of whom seemed equally as blown away by Larry’s approach as I was. He speaks with great honesty and authority, often saying things that, though tough, we need to hear. He knows what it takes to be excellent, and dares us to try it, saying we should be doing eight to ten hours of vocal work and script analysis per day.
“You have to want it. It’s not an easy life, but it can be an extraordinary one.”
Larry’s knowledge of and unwavering commitment to the craft challenges everyone to work harder. Bodie, who also audited in 2012 says, “After last year a handful of the actors decided to get together on a weekly basis and read plays, as Larry said we should. For all of us, no matter where we are in our careers, it’s a big step up”.
Simone also reflected on how the workshop experience has changed her outlook. “You learn so much about yourself as a person and your potential to move forward. Now we want to put on so many shows together – or at least read them in our living room!”
Having spent fifteen hours in a room with Larry Moss over two days, I left feeling hungry for more, hungry for excellence. It’s almost impossible to put into words the experience of watching him work with diligent, fearless actors on incredible material. ‘Inspiring’ seems so inadequate a word, and ‘life changing’ feels cliché.
Bodie confirmed the value of the masterclass saying, “Do not miss Larry Moss because it will be the best money you’ve every spent. It’s an investment in yourself – in who you are and in understanding the art form. That’s why it’s even worth auditing. Larry’s passion just rubs off on you and becomes your passion. And it’s addictive.”
Limited auditing places are available for the Larry Moss Masterclass – Sydney
Tue 2 – Fri 5 April, Fig Tree Theatre, Kensington
Bookings can be made for the masterclass here:
Larry Moss’s book The Intent to Live – Achieving Your True Potential as an Actor is available online and from all leading bookstores.