Reginald c. Brown
Actor - Director - Educator
ACTING AND DIRECTING
For me, theatre has always been about the telling of stories, and about making the imagined real. I often relate the role of the theatre practitioner to that of the griot, sometimes referred to as the cultural guardian. Theatre is, also, a lot like church. I was raised in a Baptist household and my most powerful church memories have the substance of gravelly voiced preachers enthusiastically entreating the “Holy Spirit” to come upon the church inhabitants. I recall church organs bellowing beneath these gravelly voiced preachers, together, they urge congregations onward in the spirit of praise. It is the “call” of the preacher and the "response" of the congregation that is evidence of a physical and metaphysical longing to traverse the limitations of this plane and touch something Higher. The choir's angelic tones ring out and surround the environment in a celebration of love. The participants, together with all of the components contained in this spiritual ritual, combine to make this communal experience transcendental. Theatre has always possessed this same capacity. Theatre is a communal space where our minds and spirits are lifted, and our shared experiences are examined and celebrated in an effort to bring us closer to one another while becoming attuned to the spirit of life. The works that I’m most interested in are works that say something about how we relate to one another, and that say those things that are relevant to the conciliation of our humanity.
In teaching Directing I stress the spirit of collaboration. While teaching the concepts of composition, movement, rhythm and play analysis, I stress the importance of fostering an environment where all of the participants are actively engaged in the creative process. I charge the student to endeavor to cultivate an ensemble of actors who are willing to take risks while thinking unconventionally, and I encourage them to make the most of what they have. I provide guidance on auditioning, casting and working with the actor, while always striving to foster and encourage the development of the student director’s individual voice. I want them to do works that speak to them, and I want them to surprise me with their unique possibilities. Hopefully, in this, they’ll even surprise themselves.
As an actor, my training is in the Stanislavski system, but, with time and exposure, my technique has evolved with the breadth of my experiences. Above all, I’m aware that as an actor I’m only as available to the work at hand as I am available in that practice of being a human being. I’m aware that my empathy for character interpretation is only limited by the empathy that I neglect to have for my fellows. And, I’m aware of the indisputable necessity for discipline and commitment to the craft and profession. In teaching, these are my pronouncements. I stress the necessity for a complete sensory engagement of voice, body and spirit to the end of representing fully realized 3-dimensional characters. I ascribe to the laboratory notion, in that, within our studio I encourage and guide the student to explore to the outer limits of their imaginations and to consider their possibilities outside of type, thus increasing the actor’s versatility.
I encourage the student to make strong objective choices, while vying, as well, to play equally strong actions, while also examining play and character analysis and the craft of script scoring. Additionally, I support the student’s ability to be spontaneous, and emphasize the importance of listening, playing the moment, action and reaction, and the usage of imagination and space, and awareness of physical presence. The student learns how to give and take focus, as well as develop an understanding of text as a music by being aware of, subtext, and the playing of vocal highs and lows, beats, cadence and rhythms, etc., in the hopes of creating nuance, color and texture.
The theatre teacher has a difficult task, in that there is always a great temptation to grade based on product rather than process. The focus of my instruction is not to discover the gifted and weed out less talented students. I strive to cultivate an environment in which the committed and hardworking student has the opportunity to free those talents that are uniquely their own and grade based on these factors. I encourage students to compete against their own limitations, to push themselves by taking risks, to not shy away from personal analysis, and to develop their capacity for empathy.