Actor Eric Sheffer Stevens (who performed the homosexual neurosurgeon, Reid Oliver, on the cleaning soap opera, Because the World Turns, talks about his appearing coaching in school. That coaching continued with non-public teaching, Off-Off Broadway roles, grad college, and even together with his recurring function within the cleaning soap – the place he exercised totally different appearing muscle tissues.
Susan Dansby: Had been you curious about appearing once you had been a child?
Eric Sheffer Stevens: Yeah. I am unsure if it was greater than most individuals’s curiosity, however I used to be very . And in highschool, they did musicals; and that wasn’t one thing they’d ever ask me to do. Or anyone would ask me to do. So, I by no means pursued it till I used to be in school, and I auditioned for the theater program at Wheaton and obtained in.
However I maintained a literature main. That is what my diploma was in. And afterwards, I moved to New York to pursue it. To kind of see the place it went. So, I did a bunch of small stuff right here — simply by way of the commerce papers [i.e., Backstage and Show Business Weekly] that I might audition for, on the decrease East facet, and down within the Village, and in church basements.
Susan Dansby: The Off-Off- Broadway route?
Eric Sheffer Stevens: Oh yeah. And there is a variety of worth in that stuff.
Susan Dansby: I completely agree.
Eric Sheffer Stevens: However it could actually drive you mad, additionally. And I studied right here [in New York City], with Michael Howard, which additionally type of modified the way in which I strategy all the pieces, and adjusted the way in which I work. He actually kicked my butt on a variety of various things.
Then I went to grad college in ’98 in Alabama. It’s primarily classical; however they do new work, and modern performs. It is not all Shakespeare, regardless of the identify.
Susan Dansby: So the Alabama Shakespeare Pageant is not only a theater? It is a college?
Eric Sheffer Stevens: Nicely, they’re affiliated with the College of Alabama, which is why I am such an enormous Crimson Tide fan. So that you’re accredited, and also you do your precise class work by way of College of Alabama; however you are a resident of the corporate as a non-Fairness member of the corporate.
And so that you’re getting skilled expertise, and in rehearsal with individuals that you simply actually admire rather a lot. By far the extra necessary a part of the coaching was really rehearsing, and being round individuals who knew the right way to do it.
Susan Dansby: That feels like heaven on earth for an actor.
Eric Sheffer Stevens: You take voice, and also you had been taking motion, and likewise textual content, and a variety of historical past. Particularly, theater historical past. However apart from that, it was simply being immersed in rehearsal, and doing exhibits.
Susan Dansby: And also you talked about Michael Howard. He is an appearing trainer?
Eric Sheffer Stevens: Yeah, and has been for 50 years, right here within the Metropolis. He has a studio right here, and continues to be instructing. He is unbelievable, and has been mentor and only a nice trainer, to quite a few individuals. So, I used to be fortunate to get in on that for like a few years within the late 90s.
Susan Dansby: Nicely, that is one of many issues that basically impresses me, as a result of soaps are so quick. They transfer so rapidly. And the writers name it a “first draft” medium. Regardless of the appearing time period could be for that, it is most likely type of the identical factor. The place you’re extra going together with your instincts than having a variety of time to delve into the textual content.
So, the classical coaching, and definitely working with an appearing trainer, actually serves you properly — which lots of people do not actually take into consideration.
Eric Sheffer Stevens: Yeah, it is humorous, too; nevertheless it’s its personal very distinctive expertise — which I assumed was unbelievable train. It trains an entire totally different set of muscle tissues. So, you may’t be in your head an excessive amount of. You do as a lot preparation as you may memorization clever, then you definately kind of make instantaneous decisions.
And since we do not actually rehearse within the soaps, a you do not have a variety of time with the script — you’ve got solely had it for a few days earlier than you go in to truly shoot it — then they only put you down there, on the ground, in entrance of the digital camera, and also you do it. And so it was — I preferred doing that.
Are you kidding? As a substitute of spending a variety of time questioning the right way to strategy it, you simply type of do it.
And that’s additionally very useful — to stability your pondering facet or your “background research” facet.