(photo credit: Wikipedia)
‘Like a musician practices scales and the dancer does exercises, there has to be
a framework for professional actors in Israel to practice their craft,” says
distinguished actor Oded Kotler who, along with Amnon Meskin, recently began
running a weekly workshop for professional actors at Stage- Center International
Theater Workshop in Tel Aviv.
Stage-Center, known in Hebrew as Sadnot
Habama, was established in 2002 by Rivi Feldmesser-Yaron as a laboratory for
artists of different professions to provide a creative environment outside the
Kotler, the first Israeli actor to win the Best
Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival – for the film Three Days and a Child
1967 – studied at the original Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg in New York.
Along with fellow actor Meskin, Kotler had long dreamed of bringing the goals
and atmosphere of the Actors Studio to Israel.
“I went there to observe
in the 1960s. I went to see how the professional actors put away the capes and
crowns and make themselves vulnerable,” recalls Kotler. “I saw Paul Newman do
the opening monologue of The Taming of the Shrew
. He did the monologue, but even
though he was such an established actor, he couldn’t start from fear and
emotion. He did the scene slowly. It was very touching and
While the quality of acting in both theater and film has been
on the rise in Israel in recent years, Kotler and Feldmesser- Yaron feel that
something can get lost in the professionalism.
“You get stuck in
conventions. People stagnate sometimes. I felt there needed to be
a place to let professional actors refresh themselves, almost like a beit
midrash for actors,” says Kotler.
“In Israel we have a specific problem.
To make a gross generalization, we have trouble being vulnerable, wounded and
sensitive. When an actor is working on a role for a play or a film, he will work
for a couple of months to produce something specific. But here, at our own
Actors Studio, we work to show different feelings, different emotions to show
much more than what is on the surface,” he says.
“There are lots of
acting schools today, and the students generalized the professionalism with
which they are taught. But sometimes the soul gets lost and the actor is
just a professional tool. Doing a scene is not about learning or developing, but
it’s just a means to an end,” he says.
“After many years, Amnon and I
told Rivi that we wanted to start our own Actors Studio here. She has a workshop
where we were teaching courses. She loved the idea.We decided to do it
No fees are charged for the workshops, which are held on
Friday afternoons for a select group. About 300 actors auditioned and 40 were
Sponsored by the Bracha Foundation, the Tel Aviv Municipality and
the Culture Ministry, the Israeli Actors Studio is not open to the public, but
its founders feel that it’s just a matter of time before its influence is felt
throughout the country.
Feldmesser-Yaron says, “We will see the fruits of
these workshops soon. Most of the acting schools today are very target-oriented.
I understand that – there are lots of festivals that need products. But not many
say that we will honor the process. With Oded and Amnon, they [the participants]
will find something new, something that they’re not getting anywhere else, that
will allow them to express themselves on a deeper level. I wanted to see that it
would happen and I gave it a place.
It’s for actors and actresses that
have a vision and see acting as a search.”