Al Silber shares her experience and advice

  • Silber talks through a scene with a student.

  • Silber offers advice on a student's performance.

  • Silber explains an exercise to two students.

  • Theatre students react during Silber's master class.

December 13, 2017

Interlochen alumna, author and Broadway actress Alexandra Silber teaches a master class in characterization and emotional expression.

On Dec. 4, Broadway actress Alexandra “Al” Silber (IAC 95-99, IAA 99-01, IAC St 01-02) presented a master class for Arts Academy theatre students.

“I have oft said with great pride that everything I am is from you two,” Silber said, gesturing at instructors David Montee and Robin Ellis. “I love Interlochen. I bleed blue.”

Before beginning the master class, Silber shared her own journey with the students, but she also emphasized the importance of seeing the bigger picture. “We live in a me-centric culture,” she said. “It’s important to know your story, but your story is part of the bigger human story. Acting is a service industry: we are here to give others the experiences they’ve been robbed of.”

With her introduction complete, Silber invited the first master class participant to the floor, taking a moment to remind him that a master class is a safe space. “You are not being judged,” she told the student and the class at large. “This is work, this is class, this is rehearsal.”

Silber worked with six different students and a mixture of musical and monologue selections.

As each student finished their initial performance, Silber asked the performer to to articulate what the piece was about: first in general terms, second at a deeper level and third at a personal level. Silber then helped the performer tie the emotions of the piece to their own personal experience.

“The most important question is: why are we seeing you perform this piece?” Silber asked. “If you don’t put your heart and soul into your performance, you might as well play the movie.”

After helping each student make an emotional connection to the piece, Silber led each student through an exercise to help connect the emotion with its physical response. One student, for example, ran around the room several times before singing his piece to simulate struggling to speak through intense emotions.

“Every line that comes out of your mouth is not a line; it’s the character’s thought,” Silber said. “Every costume you put on is not a costume, it’s the character’s clothes. Don’t aim for the audience to say ‘bravo.’ Aim for the audience to say ‘me too.’”

After the six students performed, Silber closed the session with a brief question-and-answer time and a short discussion on selecting a college. But most of all, she encouraged them to make the most of their Interlochen experience.

“Interlochen is a place of extraordinary possibility,” she said. “It’s not just training your artform, it’s training your human person.”

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