World-renowned acting coach, Larry Moss returns to Australia to deliver a series of masterclasses designed to inspire actors to achieve their true potential. Bethany Simons reports from inside the Melbourne masterclass.
It’s day one of the Larry Moss Masterclass and the foyer of Melbourne’s Chapel off Chapel is a hive of activity. Actors and directors sip coffee and swap stories as they queue, waiting for the doors of the theatre to open.
Once we’re seated inside, there is a steady hum from the seating bank as hundreds of auditors busy themselves with turning to fresh pages in their notebooks and checking their phones are off. Presented by leading Melbourne acting studio, 16th Street Actors Studio, the Larry Moss Masterclass is quickly becoming a calendar highlight for actors of all ages and levels of experience.
When legendary acting coach Larry Moss enters the space, the theatre erupts into a hearty welcome of applause and cheers. Larry smiles and we hold our collective breath, hanging on every word.
“You’re a character. If someone had to play you, what would they have to know about you? What is your greatest fear, greatest wish, or greatest secret? What are the things that changed your life for the better? We are so specific. Plays are about people. The audience doesn’t come to see you. They come to see themselves. It’s about story, and you’re a part of telling that story.”
Following the stirring opening address, we move into scene one. Everyone is eager to see the magic unfold. It doesn’t take long. No matter what state a scene is in, time and again Larry’s bold direction brings the story and characters to life in a more specific and animated way.
The Larry Moss Masterclass is structured to allow 16 pairs of actors work with Larry twice over a four-day period. For hours on end, he works tirelessly and generously on two-hander scenes taken from plays he has selected for the participants. Because Larry’s practice is rooted in script analysis, the text the actors work with is always dynamic. The play is the thing, and his work reminds us that great material should be the starting point for every actor. “Get your mouth around great writing. It’s in your Shakespeare, your Ibsen, your Chekhov, your Pinter, your Shaw and your Williams. Read all of them. Turn the television off for six months and read a play every night!”
As auditors our role is to actively observe and learn from watching and listening to Larry work with the participating actors. And it’s a great role. We don’t take to the stage, but we note how Larry clarifies and electrifies the text, and we feel release as he frees the actors from psychological and physical tension.
Larry’s energy never wanes. He’s tough. He’s funny. He’s perceptive. He continually fights for the play, and in doing so, fights for the actors. He may seem to be pushing people, but time and again the breakthrough and transformation attests that it was for our own good.
Watching him talk and play with the actors on stage, one feels a strange mix of terror, exhilaration and admiration. We know we’re watching a master at work.
A major benefit of auditing is being able to sit at a safe enough distance to feel challenged and inspired without feeling exposed. Perhaps that sounds cowardly, but I honestly take my hat off to all of the actors who are willing to allow hundreds of us to learn from their triumphs and struggles in the rehearsal space. Not just anybody could do that. I suppose it comes down to the fact that these actors are ready enough or hungry enough to be stretched. They are willing to taste excellence.
After seeing him in action twice, I can’t stress how vital it is for every actor to attend the Larry Moss Masterclass. A single day of auditing will stretch, challenge, excite and inspire you as never before. Wake up! A day with Larry requires focus. It can be hard work, but isn’t that what every actor craves? As Larry says, “Work smart and work hard. Do more than you ever thought you could. I’ll die laughing because I worked hard”. Indeed. May we all endeavour to be as happy as Larry.
Larry Moss Masterclass
Melbourne – April 8th to 11th
Sydney – April 14th to 17th
9am to 5pm each day
Limited auditing places available in Sydney. For bookings or more information visit www.16thstreet.com.au