"On Your Mark" - honing your relationships and your personal perspective will lead to success in all things. - Abigail Marks
Though Abigail has a fruitful and fulfilling career as an actress, the desire to be of service to other artists, drew her to teaching. Abigail fell into coaching when her sister, Lily, was applying to college. With Abigail's coaching, Lily was accepted to and attended the drama program at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (one of the top programs in the country) and Abby's coaching career was off and running. During the early years, she coached for a lot of BFA and MFA auditions. She then began working with mature, professional actors, which put her on the path to wanting to reach more than one actor at a time. Abigail's personal desire to be incredibly specific in her work, assisted in the development of the quality that sets her apart as a teacher: the ability to be articulate and communicate clearly with her students, in the language that will best suit each student, without concern for age or experience level.
It may sound obvious, but at the end of the day GOOD ACTING = BEING GOOD AT BEING HUMAN. It's that simple. And it's that hard. Actors must "act" on cue, in unreal circumstances, and under the pressure to "get it right," so good training really comes in handy. Abigail holds an MFA in Performance from The Academy for Classical Acting at The Shakespeare Theatre, she has been a professional actor for 20+ years, and has been a part of developing over 40 new works. These experiences, both academic and professional, make her dextrous at teaching a wide variety of classes: Acting Technique, Scene Study, Audition Technique, Cold Reading, Shakespeare/Jacobean, Styles, Dialects, Voice, Speech, Alexander/Movement, and more.
Abigail fills her classes with a sense of play. Many people are anxious and serious when faced with learning new skills, so Abigail's touchstone is the joy of play; she creates an environment infused with laughter and the excitement of learning. This climate is supportive and sensitive, but also focused on the development of consistent, reliable and disciplined acting by blending classical and technical skills alongside the encouragement to follow creative impulses. The synthesis of these two skills make up the surprising magic that is the art of acting.
How is it possible to accomplish this? Abigail never teaches in a vacuum. Instead, she teaches her students to raise their level of conscious competence, through a strong focus on effective storytelling. Telling a story is hard. Acting is hard. And actors inevitable hit roadblocks as they work. Abigail's goal in every class is to give her students many tools to teach themselves, by increasing consciousness. Classes aren't just exercises. Scene Study creates empathy, access to the human experience, and the challenge of vulnerability in teamwork. Studying New Works develops dramaturgical skills and nurtures the ability to freely follow one's impulses. Audition Technique emphasized finding one's unique voice, persistence, and focus. Voice and Speech classes improve clarity in both mechanics and intention. Movement and Alexander develops relaxation and physical freedom. Studying classical texts enhances discipline, rhetorical skills, rhythm, and vocal variation. And on and on and on.
Training is invaluable. And over time, each aspect of training becomes second nature, which in turn allows the diligent student to become a competent craftsman as well as a very creative artist.