Actor Eric Sheffer Stevens (who played the gay neurosurgeon, Reid Oliver, on the cleaning soap opera, As the Earth Turns, talks about his acting instruction in university. That schooling ongoing with private coaching, Off-Off Broadway roles, grad school, and even with his recurring position in the soap – exactly where he exercised distinct acting muscle tissues.
Susan Dansby: Had been you interested in performing when you have been a child?
Eric Sheffer Stevens: Yeah. I am not sure if it was far more than most people’s fascination, but I was pretty interested. And in large college, they did musicals and that was not a thing they would ever ask me to do. Or any person would check with me to do. So, I hardly ever pursued it until finally I was in college or university, and I auditioned for the theater method at Wheaton and obtained in.
But I managed a literature big. Which is what my diploma was in. And afterwards, I moved to New York to go after it. To sort of see where it went. So, I did a bunch of tiny things listed here — just via the trade papers [i.e., Backstage and Show Business Weekly] that I would audition for, on the lessen East aspect, and down in the Village, and in church basements.
Susan Dansby: The Off-Off- Broadway route?
Eric Sheffer Stevens: Oh yeah. And you will find a great deal of benefit in that stuff.
Susan Dansby: I certainly agree.
Eric Sheffer Stevens: But it can drive you mad, also. And I studied in this article [in New York City], with Michael Howard, which also sort of improved the way I approach everything, and modified the way I work. He truly kicked my butt on a whole lot of different items.
Then I went to grad school in ’98 in Alabama. It is mostly classical but they do new function, and present-day performs. It’s not all Shakespeare, even with the name.
Susan Dansby: So the Alabama Shakespeare Competition is not just a theater? It is a faculty?
Eric Sheffer Stevens: Perfectly, they’re affiliated with the University of Alabama, which is why I am such a huge Crimson Tide lover. So you might be accredited, and you do your genuine course get the job done by University of Alabama but you might be a resident of the firm as a non-Equity member of the firm.
And so you might be obtaining experienced working experience, and in rehearsal with folks that you genuinely admire a whole lot. By much the extra important part of the education was truly rehearsing, and being all over persons who realized how to do it.
Susan Dansby: That appears like heaven on earth for an actor.
Eric Sheffer Stevens: You are taking voice, and you ended up using movement, and also text, and a good deal of background. Exclusively, theater heritage. But other than that, it was just currently being immersed in rehearsal, and undertaking demonstrates.
Susan Dansby: And you pointed out Michael Howard. He is an performing teacher?
Eric Sheffer Stevens: Yeah, and has been for 50 several years, in this article in the Town. He has a studio below, and is still instructing. He is great, and has been mentor and just a good trainer, to several folks. So, I was lucky to get in on that for like a few of years in the late 90s.
Susan Dansby: Nicely, that is one of the factors that seriously impresses me, because soaps are so rapid. They go so swiftly. And the writers get in touch with it a “first draft” medium. No matter what the acting phrase would be for that, it’s in all probability variety of the similar matter. The place you are a lot more heading with your instincts than acquiring a large amount of time to delve into the textual content.
So, the classical instruction, and certainly doing the job with an acting trainer, really serves you very well — which a large amount of people today will not definitely think about.
Eric Sheffer Stevens: Yeah, it’s amusing, far too but it truly is its individual really distinctive knowledge — which I assumed was amazing physical exercise. It trains a entire diverse established of muscles. So, you cannot be in your head much too a lot. You do as substantially preparing as you can memorization smart, then you form of make prompt decisions.
And due to the fact we will not truly rehearse in the soaps, a you never have a large amount of time with the script — you’ve only had it for a few of days before you go in to truly shoot it — then they just place you down there, on the flooring, in entrance of the digicam, and you do it. And so it was — I preferred performing that.
Are you kidding? Alternatively of spending a good deal of time wondering how to technique it, you just variety of do it.
And that is also really valuable — to harmony your wondering aspect or your “track record review” facet.