Who Is Paul Schackman?

“I don’t care how you think X, Y or Z would do it, I don’t care how you think it’s supposed to be done, or what’s the right way to do it.  You take responsibility for that line. That was a concept that suddenly made it tangibly an art form.  ‘Oh! It’s about me.’  And I have never wavered from that.  It’s about taking it personally.” – Kevin Kline

Born in Tacoma, WA and raised in Southern California, Paul is a graduate of The University of California, San Diego where he began studying acting.  A veteran of Los Angeles stages, he has starred in and directed numerous productions, including the critically acclaimed Pauly and Paddy Show, an evening of original solo pieces that he co wrote, directed and starred in.  In 2006 he was nominated for an LA Weekly Theatre Award for his role as the Doctor in Will Smiths’ production of Medal Of Honor Rag.   This acclaimed production had Paul starring opposite Heavy D, with Delroy Lindo taking the helm as director.  From his first role on the original Beverly Hills 90210, Paul has gone on to appear in numerous feature films and television programs over the years playing an eclectic range of characters.  For more information and a full list of credits go to www.paulschackman.com or check out Paul at IMDB here.

Paul Schackman on Acting

“I have studied many methods of acting over the years and I’m continually surprised by how dogmatic and restrictive they often are.  As artists, we should be totally free.   As an actor I am committed to one thing – telling the truth.  This often seems like a daunting task when our heads are filled with ideas about what we are supposed to be doing.  If we have spent hours rehearsing, then it makes sense that the audition or performance should be exactly how we have worked it out.  Thus, we fall into a trap.  This trap blinds us to our feelings, our imagination, and our instinct.   On stage, it is easy to spot the well rehearsed but uninspired.  I used to think it was bad acting, but I have come to believe it is just misguided training.

As an actor, we are required to play a role onstage for weeks or perform the same scene on set for often dozens of takes.  Knowing the lines, the blocking and emotional arcs throughout each scene or take are not enough.  Unfortunately, that is where most actors stop working.  Most actors will do the job well enough but ultimately are forgettable.  Those that do a scene over and over again, always finding something new are the ones we can’t take our eyes off.  They are artists.   We watch them and know they are being truthful.  That should always be our goal; otherwise, really, what’s the point?”

… And So It Begins

“You never know what you’re going to do until you do it.” – Meryl Streep

Thanks for stopping by.  It has been a long time coming, but the timing seems perfect for my blog and workshop.  I started studying the craft of acting 20 years ago.  From the beginning I was horrified by how many “teachers” of acting were doing nothing of the sort.  Some would argue that acting is an ego driven art.  I think it is often the ego of the instructor that undermines many acting classes.

It is no secret that early MFA Acting programs, which were limited to a handful of esteemed institutions, took their talented young actors and spent at least the first year of instruction tearing them down before building them into “proper” actors.  I have friends today who still comment on spending the first several years after receiving their MFAs “unlearning” what was now getting in the way of their talent.  I firmly believe structure in the study of acting is utter rubbish if it prevents creativity from flourishing.

Today, I see acting teachers exploiting the insecurity of young actors and taking their hard earned dollars under the guise of sharing some secret process that all the stars use.  It makes me sad and it makes me angry.  It is Bullshit.

As in any art form, there is no right way.  Anyone who tells you that will take more than your money.  There is however a wrong way.  Any way that doesn’t get you to where you need to be is the wrong way.  Overwhelmingly, most great actors have trained, and they have trained hard.  Most can’t put a finger on how they get from point A to point B.  They may be able to talk about how they prepare, but once the curtain goes up or the director yells action they are no longer thinking about how to do it.  The great ones let go and become awash in imagination, emotion and instinct.

This is what I teach.  How to let go.  How to trust your training and your talent.  How to truthfully take responsibility for every line, and every moment between them.