Daniel Benzenou and Alice Bird teach Act Without Acting at The Actors Centre, which delivers a life-long way of working that gets as close as possible to the truth of what the writer intended. Here, Daniel and Alice tell us what members can expect from their workshop on 3 September and explain further what it means to truly "act without acting."
Where did Act Without Acting originate?
Students of The Actors Centre may already be familiar with the work of much-loved tutor Bathsheba Garnett who taught the ‘Simplicity’ class here for 15 years.
Having trained with Bathsheba for a collective 24 years, we are continuing her potent work which is proving highly effective in this new incarnation. Act Without Acting workshops have been running monthly for a year now with many students repeating and getting great work (one has just booked a new Amazon TV series and another Uncle Vanya). We have been pretty much fully booked since we started.
We utilise the tools Bathsheba’s approach gave us, alongside our own experience and frame of reference, to extend her technique to a modern audience.
Bathsheba trained with Lee Strasberg, Uta Hagen, Sanford Meisner and Stella Adler. She performed on Broadway and in Hollywood as well as being a professor of acting.
What do we do?
We work with great classic and contemporary duologue scenes that we cast before the workshop to give actors the best experience tailored to their own needs.
We take time to guide actors to lift the thoughts off the page and simply relate to their scene partner to find what is really alive in the scene. We encourage actors to be available to the text, to listen and be affected by the thoughts and reality of the world they are in and to truthfully communicate within the context of the scene.
This work is about, truth, simplicity, presence, nuance, finding the deeper layers, concentration, relaxation and importantly, it is about getting out of our own way and not imposing ‘stuff’, ‘concepts’ and ideas’ about how the scene 'should’ be played. In Act Without Acting, we drop these things and allow the scene to play us. When we are in that flow it is a liberating experience — one as actors we love and it is a joy to help others get there too.
Why Act Without Acting?
This class is not niche. Act Without Acting is not a workshop for a particular skill such as monologues or Shakespeare or screen acting. It is an across-the-board simple, truthful acting technique that will give students tools to engage audiences by ‘getting out of their own way’ (as Bathsheba would say). It is about allowing themselves and their real, alive vulnerability to be seen whether it be in a monologue, Shakespeare, on stage or on-screen. These are powerful tools that will help any actor in any environment.
Over the years, students have consistently remarked on how different this approach is to any they have experienced before. This response has carried over from Bathsheba’s ‘Simplicity’ to Act Without Acting. We do not know another technique that employs a similar method, though the Miesner technique does sit well alongside it.
About Daniel Benzenou and Alice Bird
Daniel Benzenou can currently be seen on Channel 4’s No Offence. He has worked extensively as an actor, primarily on screen with Working Title, BBC, Netflix, ITV, Sky TV and Channel 4.
Daniel also works in animated films, computer games (motion capture) and voice-overs.
He has directed two sold-out theatre productions.
Critically acclaimed actress Alice Bird recently won three best actress awards for lead roles in her three latest feature films. She also creates her own work: a short film premiered at Toronto International Film Festival and a feature at Raindance as well as continuing theatre productions.
What do people say about Act Without Acting?
“I felt more vulnerable and connected to the authentic thoughts and feelings of the characters.” Kaja
“We have seen so many good results from them attending that your courses are the only ones I recommend to my actors.” Emily – Agent
“The week after your workshop in May, I had an audition for a new Netflix series and I got down to the final three in a chemistry test audition recently, using your technique the whole way through!” Megan
“A highly stimulating and thought-provoking three days. It was just the sort of thing I was hoping for ... and more.” Carl
“I highly recommend this workshop for anyone who wants their acting to be real rather than realistic. This will be my third time back. It’s a tiny group so a very intimate and focused environment. Dan and Alice won’t let you get away with anything — you have no option but to improve. I love this way of working. Daniel BZ and Alice Bird gently but firmly lead us to a better place. Give it a try, it’ll change your life.” Adrian
“Really great selection of text to work on, clear and accessible technique, beautiful space to work in. Thank you for the invitation. Looking forward to more.” Lia
“It really was awesome, thanks you guys for creating a safe space to really strip everything away and get back to the truth of things. It’s liberating.” Rachael
"Loved the workshop. It opened the way to an emotional life for my work." Stephen
“I found these three days working with Dan and Alice really valuable. It felt like a process of peeling away the layers, back to the original sense of ownership and joy which I have felt in acting.” Lisa
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