Do you teach a particular technique?

I am not here to force something on you. If you’ve been working for a while, you’ve developed a technique that is probably a potpourri of various approaches/methods/ideas. Our goal is to get clear on which of those pieces work for you, not five years ago, but today. We’ll take stock, identify issues, then develop a plan and replace ineffective strategies with ones that jive with the way your brain, body and soul are working.

It’s like an acting physical.

Is this an ongoing class?

Each session is 5 or 6 weeks with a week or two break before the next one.

What do we do in the workshop?

By the first class, we’ll already have talked a bit. You’ll also have filled out a questionnaire assessing you career and approach and working history.  The questionnaire is a conversation starter. Once the workshop gets underway, we’ll be doing partnered scene work, faux auditions, and other character exercises to get at some of your challenge areas. We go back and forth between the scene work and the conversation, zeroing in on what makes you tick.

This sounds interesting but I’m afraid it will make me too self-conscious.

It’s legit to worry that over-analyzing your technique will lead to being “in your head.” But I think we often take this concern too far and then don’t do the hard work of honest self-evaluation.

The truth is, the more solid you feel in your strengths and weaknesses, the less you leave your performances up to chance. If you don’t know your instrument (to use an acting cliche), even when you “act well” you may not know why. Acting well then becomes a kind of magic trick you have no control over - sometimes you can pull out that bunny and sometimes you can’t. It is empowering to learn how you operate. Only then does your work become craft rather than magic.

If you know in advance that breaking things down is going to make you self-conscious, though, by all means, rock out somewhere else.

Can I take the workshop more than once?

Assuming we are on the same page with attendance and effort, you can take it as many times as you wish. About ⅔ of the workshop attendees are repeaters, some consecutive, some not.

Will I work every class?

Yes. It is a small group of 10-12 people. You’ve got to, got to, got to be acting as much as possible to get better.

Will I have to rehearse with a scene partner outside of class?

I don’t expect it. In this workshop, you don’t do scenes in order to nail them or to perfect a presentation. My assumption is that you can do that if given enough time and rehearsal and direction. I don’t want people feeling like they have to come in and impress the room; that defines your growth based on the approval of others. At Wheelhouse, scenework is for your own self-discovery.

That said, there’s plenty of individual work you can - and should - be doing between classes. Your growth depends on it.

Nick, you are an actor. What happens when you get a job?

In the event I have to miss a class, an additional class will get tacked on to the end of the series.  Same day, same time, same location. This is why I build in breaks between each session. Also so I can rest my brain and play online golf.

How do I sign up?

Shoot me a message and let me know a little about yourself and your career. Let me know if someone referred you. I’m protective of the environment in the class and personal referrals help a lot. We’ll discuss whether this workshop seems like a good fit for you right now.

Do you have a teaching philosophy?

Composer John Cage wrote this list of rules for classrooms. I love them all.

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.
RULE TWO: General duties of a student - pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher - pull everything out of your students.
RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.
RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined: this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.
RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.
RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.
RULE TEN: We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.

Where does the name Wheelhouse come from?

Depending on your perspective it is either an homage to or stolen from my brother-in-law’s pickle company, Wheelhouse Pickles. He used to say about his pickles: “Only when you find that sweet spot where all the ingredients are in the proper balance do you have the perfect pickle.” He took the name from the baseball term that refers to that ideal place where a batter likes the ball pitched.  And that term, in turn, was taken from the area of a ship which housed the steering wheel. What does all that mean about my workshops? They are about finding your strength, your individual sweet spot, your wheelhouse.