A surprising turn of events allowed me to escape the frigid winter of Kentucky and make my way back to Florida for a quick trip to teach an unarmed stage combat class with a close friend and colleague at the Asolo Conservatory in Sarasota. The Conservatory is an extension of my alma mater, Florida State University and is the training ground for FSU’s M.F.A. Acting Program. Fellow SAFD Certified Teacher Robert Westley teaches a week long intensive each year to the first and second year M.F.A. candidates over the winter break. Each group receives 15 hours of instruction and the second years having completed 30 hours, are then eligible to perform a Skills Proficiency Test for Fight Master Dale Girard.
This year, Robert invited me to join him in teaching the class, freeing himself up to focus on the choreography and coaching of the scenes for the second year students while I attended to the introductory principles and explored acting violent moments with the first years. The class was a huge success. All second year students passed their SPT and several received recommended passes. Student feedback indicated that they much preferred the additional focus resulting from a second instructor and if all factors remain favorable, the same approach will be made next winter. More information about the Asolo Conservatory and professional actor training program is available on the website for the Asolo Repertory Theatre, with which it is associated.