My Acting Students


Click to view photos from the Master Class in Melikhovo, Russia

Click to view photos from the Master Class in Copenhagen

Click to view photos from the Master Class in Accademia09, Milan

Student Reactions and Comments

In Class, after completing work on one or more Exercises or at the end of Class, I have the actors sit down in a group and then each one, in turn, provides comments, reactions or asks a question about how they experienced the Exercises.

To provide a flavor of how Class participants are experiencing the work, I have provided a sampling of some of those comments and my occasional responses made at that time:

♦ Doing the Exercise was very surprising because so many unexpected things came
up doing the work and I remembered many more details of people, places and
objects through each sense.

♦ I felt like crying and laughing at the same time. I got joyful at unexpected things
and the opposite. Subconscious thoughts and ideas kept coming up.

♦ What I was working on, was something I thought would upset me but I got no
emotional reaction. So, I decided to change to something else. First I did some
relaxation for a moment or two and thought of what I wanted to work with. The
new thing gave me the emotion I needed and nobody even knew what I did.

♦ I really felt a sense of playfulness that I had not had since I was a child. I also
tried doing a few things that I was afraid to do (or even think about) back then and
that made me happy. Then I got sad that I was not able to do it back then when I
was a child. So, I got happy, sad, felt safe, relaxed and with a soothing fullness;
and I knew these were all senses and feelings that I could use in a scenes.

♦ What surprised me and I will always remember is how I was able to focus so
intently and in such detail and for so long at the objects and sensations. Using
each sense to examine and experience my object slowly I was amazed at how
relaxed I was and I could not believe the detail I saw and how the time went by
with way less of my usual distractions.

♦ I always thought I did not remember details but going into each sense opened up
loads of details and memories happy, sad and scary.

♦ Sometimes I could not picture the whole object exactly. But just continuing to try
gave me a sense of accomplishment.

♦ I was having trouble seeing myself in the place I was working with and I realized
if you can’t see your self there in the imaginary place; it means you might not
really see yourself in your real life either.

♦ I realized how great and easy it would be to do Relaxation and another exercise
before an audition; even while you are just waiting and no one will know you are
practicing a Method Exercise.

♦ It is amazing how deep you go. It is like peeling layers of yourself away and what
is left is the actor you want to be.

♦ It is amazing how easy it is to experiment with seeing and trying new things…
new behaviors.

♦ The Exercises got me to concentrate on my text, my story and my role while the
other actors were all doing there own things, with sounds, voices and all kinds of
activity. It was great for concentration.

♦ The place I choose in my Exercise gave me multiple emotional reactions. I choose
another place which was less complex and I could work more specifically on the

♦ I was able to do the Exercise and not be self critical about how I was doing or if it
was right. I just worked on what I was doing just like everyone else was.

♦ I have been weepy as an actress. But the Exercises gave me a different attitude
about myself with so many choices and ways I can be.

♦ The Exercises are very challenging, which is good. I discovered new sides of
people I knew and new sides of the people I worked with in the Exercises.

♦ It was hard to keep concentration and I got bored but I kept going back to the
work. I felt more able after the Exercises.

♦ I got moody. I got selfish. I experienced or acted out addictions. I realized things
about my inner self which came out and were alive.

♦ I really got the idea of what improvisation is about and how focusing on each of
the senses unleashes a sense of being a borne improviser.

♦ In the Painting Exercise I was both shocked by and loved talking to every one of
the other actors. I was astounded that they each were portraying different people
with their own lives, worries, roles, behaviors and they were also from different
times in history and cultures. I had to answer their questions and what came up
was so inventive and inspiring. I was being the “God of the Underworld” and the
other characters taught me things about living.

♦ The Painting Exercise was incredible for discovering real layers of character.
Meeting others and explaining who you are, what you are and from what period in
history gave me my own new ideas about my character and how I could portray
and explain myself.

♦ I have never had such emotions before but I was firmly in control. I could stop
and change it and I was not scared.

♦ When I lost concentration, I went back to the first of the five senses that came to
mind and that shift in focus got me right back into my painting. My painting was
really from another world. Meeting other people from all over the world and from
different eras was new, fascinating and opening and I could see how that could
be used in scene work.

♦ After talking to all the other characters about their painting, explaining my
painting and then being alone again, I had many new ideas and sensations
about my painting being stimulated by all the conversations.

♦ A poet locked in a room with a flow of other people to meet and talk with;
sensations of wind, pollution kept bringing me back. Some characters scared me
or threatened me…other persons put me in a state of shock, different sensations
were all over. Getting back to being alone was such a relief.

♦ Among the characters I met, with one, her despair and desire to die – gave me
inspiration to live. When I left one character to meet another, I hoped they would
be OK.

♦ When I got lost in my scene, the dialogue with the other characters and their
reactions to me were interesting and gave me focus. I was a scary character but
was really innocent and people being scared of me added depth.

♦ Meeting everyone else in the Painting Exercise strengthened the inner life of my
Character by highlighting how, my character was different from the people I
met. I explained myself to them. I had felt restricted and restrained, but then
the contact with them opened me up and taught me things.

♦ I had the smell of the forest, the touching of my sons hair, a sensation kept me
back. I was confused by my senses. (Lola: “Do not get confused! Go back to one
simple sense and work with what you are experiencing. Then go the next sense
and continue – one sense at a time. Get rid of the words.”

♦ A famous character limited my range of behavior and another character took me
to another world.

♦ With the Animal Exercise I found exaggerated love qualities in various features.
My animal does not stand up – so, standing up, as it, was very imaginative. Being
a butter fly allowed me to be borne and to evolve.

♦ Watching the actors do other animals made me more aware, in a very specific
way, of the animal I was being.

♦ I laughed as the animal and felt a playfulness. Another sense of the animal came
to me and it was strong. The Animal Exercise gave me courage to do things and
be playful. Then the transition back to “human-ness” was like a maturing,
My sight became more sharp. I felt strong and in a safe comfort zone.

♦ My sense of personal objectives became intense and my concentration on various
things was sharp. Then, when I added the personal activity of vacuuming with
that focus and confidence it was amazing and I started laughing while vacuuming.

♦ I was happy but it was through a kind of painfulness. My system had caught up
with the animal behaviors I was familiar with. With the Personal Object Exercise
it took me a long time to generate an emotional reaction. Then an emotion and
memory was evoked…opened up one door and there were a thousand other

♦ The Personal Object Exercises was lovely. For many aspects, I have specific
memories. I did not want to say good bye when it was over. I put my object on
someone’s shoulder. Lola, do I go with the memories or stay with the physical
and emotional qualities? (Lola: “Stay with each sense and observe each
sensation slowly, specifically and be relaxed.”

♦ The Object was not so strong emotionally. My animal, a praying mantis, is very
unlike me physically, so that was revealing. With persons…I became the person.
I made up the body and its various parts. It was physically demanding and a real
release. I feel highly stimulated.

♦ I did not want to continue, but when the teacher says continue, you must use your
will. New ideas and sweet things arose for me and it was so interesting.

♦ Being a deer was scary because the other animals were threatening. It was hard to
develop ‘emotion-less-ness’ while exploring the animal. I was watching the world
differently. It was a great fascinating experience.

♦ I thought I would be annoyed with the person in the Exercise; and then my
feelings about them transformed and then when I did lines they were so different
from when I said them previously.

♦ The animal thinks bigger then they are, provokes and then runs away; I picked an
old dinosaur and had a funny relationship with the other animals, when I became
a person I became smaller. I related very well to animals similar to me.

♦ I dozed. The feelings ran out. I rested and picked up again. There was a specific
tingling energy that wanted to be let out. Locked sensations were a large part of
my childhood. I was invisible. I had a break through, the yawning, breathing and
oxygenating and reliving where I had been.

♦ When ever I felt best I was alone at home… Being there again in the Exercise
amazed me. What specific objects I focused on and explored, what I smelled and
heard and what made me laugh and cry was both very real but surprisingly and
positively different from exactly what I remember.

Student Reactions after the Dancing the Song of Your Life Exercise

♦ The music directed the feelings. I remembered bad, good, surprising and
interesting things. Good raw material followed me all the way through each of the
phases of life we portrayed in the Exercise.

♦ I loved the dancing my face was so relaxed. I tried to do different moves it made
me happy which was also emotional. I felt very different energy levels like a
roller coaster ride. It was interesting to dance to classical music as a teenager.

♦ I did not want to leave certain ages. I was very closed up when I was teenager and
here I experimented with the future and I had unexpected ideas and feelings open
up. It was liberating; light and expressive bringing my body along through each
period of my life.

♦ Before my birth I was like a fish in water. I was nauseous at my teenager years
and the dying part of the Exercise was emotional but not fearful more because of
saying goodbye. I worked with feelings and energy not specific memories.

♦ The spans of time at the early stages of life were much further apart. I met
inspiring friends, communicated with the others and formed bonds. It brought joy
in and liberated; without judgments. It made me look forward to rest of my life.

♦ The rhythm of music distracted me from content. The beginning and end were
most powerful. Being borne was hard because I almost died at birth I understood
how beautiful and wonderful my life is and in the future who I want to be and
who I want to be with.

♦ Being in the womb was wonderful. The dancing at different ages…? The school
years were hard for me to remember. I was obese then, marriages divorce and
now I am getting the heck out of life. Reconnecting with the future and possible
achievements was freeing and ideas of what to teach children arose as well.

♦ Over the last few days of exercises, I noticed that my stomach and digestion under
went a transition. My digestion seems more integrated and changed in a positive
way. When I have been eating – I am noticing it with each sense; in my nose, the
taste, the texture and how the food looks.

♦ When I was feeling a scratchiness when doing the Exercise, I did not scratch it. I
imagined I scratched it and that worked and I just continued on. When I was
speaking in the Exercise I noticed that I was saying the same line over and over
not like for a scene but it was like an aerobic exercise. When the text did not just
flow so easily I tried mumbling.

♦ When confused I got nervous. I imagined the sun with my senses and the sunshine
calmed me down. I found the Exercise very good for Hamlet; without realizing it,
I picked places, and objects well suited for the monologue. It felt very

♦ I found it hard not to create a narrative story to make it interesting. I found it
boring and then when I could not do something I regained what I was trying to
do, looked at it from outside with my senses and it got me back to the action.

♦ I enjoyed the Exercise when we had to do the 4 things at the same time. Then
when I went back to the every day activity I was working on it made me do that
thing in a new and very fresh way.

♦ People kept popping up in the places I was recalling in the Exercises. I just stayed
working on recalling the places and the people ended up just passing through the
place. (Lola: “Those people are part of the place you are working on recalling
through the five senses. They are just one of the objects you experience in that
place. Do not go with the person. Stay with observing the place through the five

♦ The Exercises are like a serious work out. It is exhausting. (Lola: “Lee Strasberg
said, that if you are not exhausted by doing the Exercises – then you did not do the
Exercises well enough!”

© Lola Cohen
February, 2014