John Beale is a Toronto based actor, teacher and director. A graduate of The Philippe Gaulier International Theatre School in Paris, John also trained, performed and taught extensively with Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Massachusetts and is now an artistic associate with reWork productions in Toronto. This is John's first year teaching at the Volcano Conservatory.
We spoke to John to learn a little more about his class, "Presence", and his approach to teaching:
Q: Can you tell us about "Presence", the course you’ll be teaching for the Volcano Conservatory?
A: With this work we discover the ways in which we reveal ourselves and how we hide away. This form connects us with our enormous pleasure to play but then presents us with the formidable task of making everyone burst out laughing. Our ego rushes in to save the day either pushing too much or shying away. This fear of failure brings out all our tricks we use to avoid being exposed. It's when our best intentions fall flat the pretense of the ego is revealed. The rug is pulled. The thin ice cracks and what is uncovered is a beautiful, sensitive, vulnerable presence behind the slipping mask of ego- a presence that fills the room. We show up. It's very powerful. So in the end it's not about being funny or goofy or small or cute it's about showing our true presence. Paradoxically the goal we set out to achieve in the first place happens by accident. There is a burst of laughter but not a derisive or pitiful laughter, it's a huge heartfelt, belly laugh at the human condition. The audience falls in love.
Q: What about the experience of teaching in the Volcano Conservatory are you looking forward to?
A:What a great opportunity to be under one roof with such a great collection of teachers and students drawn from all corners of the performance world.
Q: Who should take your class? Why?
A: The form is studied to discover one's clown. For actors it's Jedi training - an essential workout to become more sensitive, open and connected to your audience. For non-actors it's a practice of facing fears, showing up and finding a powerful connection with others, opening that channel between you and them. Everyone will have the experience they need. People come to this challenging and rewarding work when they're ready.
Q: You offer this class for performers and non-performers alike. What’s different about working with those two groups? What’s it like when they come together in class?
A: I always prefer working with a range of ages and experiences in the room. Having a large cross section of participants enriches the ride for everyone. A lot is learned through observing. Actors witness how present non-actors can be by accident and non-actors see how it's possible to craft these "accidents".
Registration is open for all courses in the Volcano Conservatory. Don't miss out, spaces are limited. Check back soon for interviews with some of our other illustrious instructors!