Friday, April 7, 2017

Spotlight On...Terry Schreiber

Name: Terry Schreiber

Hometown: I moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota when I was six, where I stayed until I came to New York in 1960.

Education: I have a BA in English and Speech from St. Thomas University (back then it was St. Thomas College) in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Favorite Credits: The Trip Back Down which turned our little 3rd Avenue Studio into a Broadway Springboard. Also K2, because working with the writer was a very trusting and special processes. The set design on K2 was an exciting adventure, having to create a mountain on stage. Every Checkov play that I have done at the studio will always have a special place in my heart, as well as the Tennessee Williams and Pinter shows.  The opportunity to delve into such rich material is always a joy.

Why theater?: There is nothing more exciting than the house going black, the curtain opening, and the lights going up on stage. I’ve always found it more exciting than any motion picture. Nothing can beat a live experience.

Tell us about Loose Ends?: Loose Ends is a play I’ve been fond of ever since I first saw it Off-Broadway in the 80’s. I like Weller’s writing a lot, and this is a play I have always wanted to do. We attempted in 2010 but had to cancel our plans. I’m lucky that Michael released the rights to us for this second, successful attempt. The tumultuous times of the 70’s, Vietnam as a backdrop, and the male/female role changes of that decade is exciting material for me to explore. We’re experience a similar kind of tumultuous time, now in 2017.

What inspired you to direct Loose Ends?: I really like plays about relationships, that’s what speaks to me the most. When I can get into the people, and what’s happening to their lives, that is what peaks my interest. The difficulty and complications that go into all relationships, family, lovers, etc. is what attracts me. Nothing didactic, I have trouble sitting through a Brecht play.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: The work of Elia Kazan, film or stage, has always been inspiring. What a terrific director.  Bergman, too, is just an inspiration. When it comes to both of their approach with actors, you know you will always get brilliant, honest performances.

Tell us about T. Schreiber Studio: We started in 1959 with twelve students, on 3rd Avenue above a paint store. I wanted right off the bat to start a studio that not only focused on acting classes but emphasize the importance of producing theatre as well. We started with a production of Summer and Smoke, which we took to New Jersey. The following year we moved to 81st between 2/3 Avenues in a converted carriage house, and enrollment increased to about 30-40 students. That season we did three plays, and produced some of our works in Vermont that summer. From there the studio grew and has continued to grow, frequently changing location until we finally settled into our current home in Chelsea in the mid 1990’s.

How has T. Schreiber Studio changed since it opened?: We’ve really diversified our program over time.  With Peter Jensen acting as my co-Artistic director and our staff of wonderful teachers, the Studio now really offers an “across the board” training experience. The faculty we have now covers a wide range of professional training, and that’s some growth of which I am incredibly proud.

What is the biggest reward to teaching?: The biggest reward as a teacher is always that “lightbulb” moment with an actor, when you can see an actor finally “drop in” and understand the role, and what goes into building it. To get a front seat to the growth of an artist. There is always, without exception, a clear moment where an actor jumps into a new understanding of the work, where they learn to bring their naked selves-and nothing else-to the role. The moment where you can say “today you broke through” is the most rewarding experience. That and watching the commitment that follows, is what continues to inspire me as a teacher.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I would give my right arm to work with Mark Rylance, his work is always a knockout. I would also love an opportunity to direct Mary Louise Parker.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Playing now, I would recommend everyone go see Dear Even Hansen. The writing, score, staging, and performances were so accessible. I was deeply touched by the play and subject matter. It was a wonderful experimental musical. A big obstacle in going to the theatre today is the expense, it’s hard to commit to a show at such a high price when you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. That’s a big reason why we’re so committed to keeping our ticket prices affordable.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: If they were to make a movie about me it would be called “The Kid from the Midwest”

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I’m sorry I missed the original production of Streetcar Named Desire.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: My guilty pleasure is going to a movie in the afternoon during the week.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: If I wasn’t working in theatre would probably be a psychotherapist. That, or a sports coach, either baseball or football.