The Actors Workshop Program provides professional instruction in all phases of theatre performance, especially, but not exclusively, to persons who are financially constrained, or cannot attend institutional programs, but still wish to pursue a theatrical career, revive a dormant interest in theatre, or simply investigate a need for self-expression.
The Workshop is a stringent program teaching voice and diction, scene study, character development. We will continue the practice of offering it at no cost to low-income people who reside in Detroit, with slots available for paying students from the greater metro area too. Our most famous graduate is Broadway, film and television actor Vondie Curtis-Hall. Lulu Dahl, class of ’11, earned her Actor’s Equity card at the Rep and has been making films. But the majority of our students took the opportunity as a way to explore their own creativity, improve their ability to express themselves and feel more confident in that expression. We know from their feedback that they had more successful job interviews after the course, and better reading skills.
As with any study of acting, empathy is deepened in Workshop students. Everyone wants to be good in his or her role, and the only way to do that is to put yourself in your character’s shoes. We know that Workshop grads went on to live richer lives whether they pursued acting or not. One former student, Major Bob Tillman, stopped by the Theatre wanting a copy of a diction exercise to share it was some of the youth he works with through the Tuskegee Airmen program. He called the Workshop “a turning point in my life.”
The Detroit Neighborhood Opportunity Fund funded the Actors Workshop for over 30 years; the City’s bankruptcy brought an end to that funding. In 2013, the Ways and Means Community Foundation included the Rep’s Workshop as a beneficiary of their annual Golf Fundraiser, held in Metro Detroit every August. Thanks to “Ways and Means”, the Workshop returned in September 2016. The Rep, working with “Ways and Means” continues to seek funding for future workshops.
From Actors Workshop participants:
*All of the classes have helped me tremendously. My speech and vocabulary have improved. I have a lot of confidence in myself and I no longer think it is too late to follow my dream [of becoming an actress].
I studied with the Rep a few years ago…Since then I have appeared in a dozen plays…and I am currently working on my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting.
In Voice and Diction I learned how to use the vowel chart in the dictionary…I’m a high school graduate of DPS. I must have missed school that week. It is my pleasure to no longer have to guess at pronunciation…anyone interested in performing arts seriously or curiously would find the Actors Workshop a good place to start, and a valuable experience when completed to its end.
It has been a great experience that I will treasure for a lifetime. I hope the DRT can continue to provide to the community what it has provided to me. *
If you are interested in participating in the Golf fundraiser, either as a golfer or a sponsor, contact Leah at the Rep. 313-868-1347 or for information about scholarships, tuition and participation in the DRT Acting Workshop, contact the DRT Workshop Director, Lynch Travis.