Character Creation is a profoundly transformative approach to the craft of acting steeped in authentic behaviour and informed motivations to compose the widest possible articulation of the human experience. It is not only peerless in its capacity to create believable characters of staggering variety, but also informs an actor on the myriad ways in which one character can express their truth over the course of a play, film or television series. I was introduced to the work in 2010, and completed specific training and mentorship in the practice with the late Penelope Chater. Penelope was a shaman of this insightful approach, and I both trained in and acted as dramaturge for her masterclass in the work over a six month intensive in 2017. Penelope trained extensively with the creator and developer of this work, the esteemed Yat Malmgrem, at the Drama Centre in London. The work was then called Character Analysis, and Penelope was granted the blessing of Malmgrem to teach and expand the work. It is a privileged to be part of that legacy, with Penelope extending the same honor of sharing this work in my teaching and directing practices.
Character creation involves a deep understanding and practice of what Yat Malmgrem terms Character Types. This involves a division of personality traits into six different categories which can be explored and developed in isolation or, more practically for the working actor, in concert with other aspects of the approach, and indeed with other acting tools. Rather than considering these six categories as stereotypes, they form what is better described as archetypal behaviors, and when understood physically, psychologically, emotionally and intuitively, they form a transformative base from which an actor can apply any number of other tools and practices of their craft to fully realize their characters. Most notably, script analysis and Stanislavsky-derived approaches to understanding character (specifically objectives, obstacles and actions) are not separate from the work of Character Creation, but indeed essential to its effectiveness.
Each Character Type has a unique foundation based on Carl Jung’s mental factors of sensing, emoting, thinking and intuiting which form the psychological basis of the work in Character Creation. Each of these Mental Factors is further divided into different energetic variations through the use of Rudolph Laban’s physical actions, a grammar of understanding and being in control of four distinct set of binaries that an actor can focus on to achieve radically varied character behaviors – deeply informed – as well as a diverse range of expressions for each character in changing circumstances, such as we all experience as human beings: the effects of alcohol or drugs, spiritual bliss, tiredness, determination, sustained terror or horror, giddiness: the list is as boundless as there are ways of presenting in the world for every human. To create consistency of character while also demonstrating the range of expressions and attitudes that each human being is capable of is the supreme gift that Character Creation brings to the actor’s repertoire of skills.
In a long career as a teacher and director, this work has been the solution to balancing both truth and authenticity with scope and variety of characterization I have found for the actors I work with. It is an essential tool for any character actor – you will be amazed at the breadth human experience you contain within you once you have the tools to explore the work with this prism of exploration to guide you.
Character Creation is a practical approach to understanding, creating and transforming into characters. It is predominantly based on Character Analysis, which was the final thesis of Rudolph von Laban (Movement Theorist) and William Carpenter (Jungian Analyst). Yat Malmgrem (Dancer and Teacher) further developed and taught it extensively to dancers, opera singers and then actors at Drama Centre London for over thirty years. The most notable students include Peter Brook, Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery, Diane Cilento Simon Callow, Paul Bettany, Geraldine James, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Frances de la Tour, Russell Brand, Anne-Marie Duff, John Simm, Sean Harris, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, Helen McRoy and Nicholas Tennant.
Peter has taught for 20 years across 3 continents, multiple disciplines and at institutions such as NIDA, the VCA (Melbourne Uni), The National Theatre Drama School, 16th Street Actors Studio and the exclusive Trinity College at Melbourne University amongst many more.
Peter has a BA in Literature & Film (UNSW), a Graduate Diploma in Education (UNE), a Masters in Directing (VCA/Melbourne University), a Cert IV in Training & Assessment (VU) and recently completed a Film Studies Certificate at UCLA after receiving the Mike Walsh Fellowship for Directing from NIDA and the Hayden Group in 2019. Peter studied with Chicago-based Improv (Theatre Sports), the Mike Leigh Method with Rob Marchand, Different Every Night with Mike Alfreds and Strasberg's relaxation and analysis (16th Street). He's assisted masterclasses with Larry Moss, Ellen Burstyn, Ivana Chubbuck, Iain Rickson and Susan Batson.
Peter has directed upwards of 35 productions across theatre, film and web series (no TV yet!). After collaborating with renound acting coach Larry Moss on ‘Holding the Man’ in 2014, Peter has worked in Los Angeles with the Australian Theatre Company on a number of occasions. His staging of Brendan Cowell’s ‘Ruben Guthrie’ for the company in 2016 won the L.A. Scene Award for Best Comedy, Best Director and Best Ensemble (among others). Having worked in some capacity in the Arts for nearly three decades, Peter has contributed to upwards of 30+ productions as director, dramaturge, actor and/or writer since 2010. He also received first-class Honours for his Masters from the VCA and was made a member of the independent theatre company Bitten By Productions in 2020. (And a partridge in a pear tree).
With mentors including Larry Moss, Noni Hazlehurst, Ellen Burstyn, Peter Evans, Mike Alfreds, Rob Marchand, Rena Owen, Kim Farrant, Cameron Daddo, Matt Scholten, Tony Ayres and many many more.
SATURDAY APRIL 15TH - SATURDAY JUNE 3RD 2023 PDT
7pm - 10pm
$497.00 - Maximum of 12 students
*6 PLACES REMAINING
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