A surprise (to me) hit at the 2008 SXSW film festival was veteran actor Jeffrey Tambor‘s acting workshop, a two-hour class for those interested in bridging the gap between actor and director. I missed it, but as soon as it was over, a palpable buzz shot through the crowds at the Austin Convention Center.
So this afternoon, after an energizing and encouraging pre-production mentor session, I slipped into the acting workshop to see what was the big deal.
Everyone was right. Jeffrey Tambor’s workshop was dazzling and lucid, like light through a diamond. His basic goal is to help artists burn through their fear and self-doubt so they can give their talents to the world, which needs them so desperately.
There is no bullshit about this man. He led two actors through a scene rehearsal and helped them crack open. As audience members asked questions, he put his attention fully on each questioner, touching the heart of their creative talents and dreams with frank yet sensitive observations that were, in every case, absolutely accurate.
Much of what he said mirrored the work I’ve encountered through the School of Womanly Arts or The Artist’s Way, but it was refreshing to hear it from a masculine point of view.
He gave us some real gems this afternoon, but my favorite was that whatever teacher(s) you choose, they should say, “You know what you’re doing,” rather than “Do exactly what I did.” Don’t be an acolyte; don’t stay too long.
He ended his workshop with urgent words: “Go to work! The world needs your voice!” His words echoed one of my favorite lines from a play, from the end of Angels in America: “You are fabulous, each and every one, and I bless you. More life. The great work begins.”
Beauty in a Wicked World is a weekly column by Jennifer Gandin Le. It appears on Wednesdays, with a special daily edition during the SXSW Film Festival.