ABOUT The GROK Acting Studio
GROK’s influences are rooted in the evolution of truthful work from such institutions as the early stages of the Moscow Art Theater, The Group Theater, and The Actors Studio. GROK takes pride in the pursuit of ‘the work.’ The work is designed to take the actor to new heights in their craft; the joy of experiencing truthful work. The goal of the actor is to develop a process and awareness that allows the artist to create reality on set or in front of a camera, always from a truthful and meaningful place. GROK is to be a haven for all serious actors from around the globe to appreciate and enjoy the evolution of the art, and for the artist to appreciate their unique gifts within themselves that will contribute to the art itself.
These sessions hold gradutes from some of the most impressive programs such as NYU Tisch, Northwestern, UCLA, USC, Rutgers, University of the Arts, RADA, Lee Strasberg Institure, Rose Bruford UK, ADA, NYFA, and many more colleges across the nation and internationally as well as professional working actors in the industry.
Grok /ˈɡrɒk/ is a word coined by Robert A. Heinlein in his 1961 science-fiction novel, Stranger in a Strange Land, where it is defined as follows:
Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines grok as “to understand intuitively or by empathy; to establish rapport with” and “to empathize or communicate sympathetically (with); also, to experience enjoyment”.
“Things that once had separate realities become entangled in the same experiences, goals, history, and purpose.”
The GROK Acting Studio’s purpose is that in the world of theater, both audience and actors are to be experiencing a meaningful journey in each moment, evolving and transforming together through art.
GROK’S process is rooted in “The Method”
- Each session begins with Relaxation to eliminate the actors tension and to free their unique Instrument, to free “The life of the human spirit.”
- The rest of the session deals with exercises to promote the actor’s freedom: emotionally, physically/vocally, psychologically and intellectually. The actor must stimulate their impressive/expressive nature; the nature of being affected and affecting another; to find that which will “activate” their spirit.
- Actors will bring in scenes and monologues, and also learn dramatic Improvisation.
Refer to ‘WORKSHOP’ page and download the GROK Acting Studio Brochure for class structure
ORIGIN AND PHILOSOPHY
Comprised of and for more dedicated artists to have a safe venue to hone their craft, the session features a wide array of technique and tools to give the artist a reliable and solid means of creating truth on stage or in front of camera. Members must use their uniqueness as artists to reach the audience, also emphasizing that they must pique those truths that will reveal and display the beauty in fullness and depth of the character, bringing story to life. In this understanding, a true emergence occurs, blending the artist and the character solely situated in reality. This allows the group to operate and function freely as real people would, living on stage rather than surviving it. At this juncture, the work never struggles to be artfully personal. Schepkin said “Sometimes you may play poorly, sometimes only satisfactorily, but you will play truthfully.”
While necessary to have an objective teacher introduce technique, this structure depends on the actor to take risk in introducing their work rather than pigeon-holed into fitting another’s idea of “what is.” This process frees the actor from a submissive nature towards a teacher, an audience, the material or industry – thereby leading the student to a self-reliance and independence as an artist to create their own freedom of expression as an actor. The actor approaches the stage with more entitlement and trust from this place rather than depending on someone other than themselves. The goal is for the actor to be a well-trained craftsman that can fulfill the material, to “not act” but to feel the depths of that which is visceral, universal, and real; that which is to be Human and the nature of such that lies within.
CLOSE-UP ON GROK’S NATURE
In Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire compares the conventional educational system to the “banking model” due to its treatment of the student as an empty vessel or “piggy bank” to be filled with knowledge. Freire therefore contends that the educational system should tend to the learner as a co-creator of knowledge. Frier believes that if students are to be seen as empty piggy banks, waiting for the teacher to deposit knowledge, the result will be a dehumanization of both student as well as teacher.
Ironically, and seen as an appropriate model of GROK, Freier suggested a system that interpreted people as being incomplete, and that an “authentic” process would make them aware of this in an effort to become more human. Freier coined the term ‘Conscientizaion,’ a means of consciously shaping people and society. GROK strives for its actors to be an artistic contribution, continuing to let their artistic capabilities come forth and take form. Contrastingly and occasionally in other classes, ‘Banking Education’ attempts – by mythologizing reality – to conceal certain facts which explain the way men exist in the world… Banking Education resists dialogue; Problem-posing education regards dialogue as indispensable to the act of cognition which unveils reality. Banking education treats students as objects of assistance; problem-posing education makes them critical thinkers… Problem-posing education bases itself on creativity and stimulates true reflection and action upon reality, thereby responding to the vocation of men as beings who are authentic only when engaged in inquiry and creative transformation.
Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Continuum Press. (Original work published 1970)
Conventional Acting classes today deprive the actor from discovering and expressing their unique gifts that should otherwise lend themselves to story and character. It is essential to understand that an actor’s job is to inspire through telling a story. More often than not, actors learn only half the puzzle of bringing only themselves to that story; neglecting that the material was written without that actor, without their existence, without their subjective ideas of what the story is actually meant to convey. Sometimes an actor starts dealing too much with themselves rather than first dealing with the material, convoluting the creative process into one of unhealthy and uninteresting self-indulgence. Therefore, the actor must learn to bring about those traits which will in sum depict the soul of the character. While all of the actor’s traits are essential to the character, there is a human-being on those pages that must be seen, understood, and listened to. The job is to be the human-being on those pages and eventually use your unique self to be that unique character. It is a revealing of ourselves that in turn will reveal the character and soon enough the story. Hopefully, the story reveals something about the audience, and ultimately reveals who we are, personally, as a society, as a world at large.
“An actor must become the character the playwright intended him to be. He must walk, talk, think, feel, cry, laugh, whatever the playwright wants.” Schepkin
Art In Yourself
While GROK’s intent is to establish a means for the actor to develop a solid and reliable craft to create truth, the actor must understand these techniques and tools are just that. The actor must discover their own process in that these tools and exercises are of incredible resourcefulness and will evolve the actor, and yet the actor must also apply them in consideration of their own unique instrument, temperament, and journey. Our art lies within ourselves and the capacity we have to let the beauty of each other and the world that surrounds us all, to be allowed into our realm for better or worse. Through our interpretation and experiences, our objective as actors is to investigate and display the human condition for what it is, evolving not only ourselves for selfish betterment, but to evolve culture, politics, social reform, equal rights, and service to mankind. Let the stage be a breeding ground for new life and let us be brave enough to let this life enter the world beyond.
“The method we have been studying is often called the ‘Stanislavski System.’ But this is not correct. The very power of this method lies in the fact that it was not concocted or invented by anyone. Both in spirit and in body it is a part of our organic natures. It is based on the laws of nature. The birth of a child, the growth of a tree, the creation of an artistic image are all manifestations of a kindred order. How can we come closer to this nature of creation? That has been the principle concern of my whole life. It is not possible to invent a system. We are born with it inside us, with an innate capacity for creativeness. This last is our natural necessity, therefore it would seem that we could not know how to express it except in accordance with a natural system.”