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A Look at the Larry Moss Masterclass
I’m sitting on a bench outside the Fig Tree Theatre at the University of New South Wales and it’s redolent of drama school auditions. An actor is in a leafy corner finding his breath, another releasing his jaw and, as I greet what feels like the entire young acting population of Sydney, there is an air of restless excitement and trepidation.
I had heard a great deal about Larry Moss. Friends, who had taken part in previous Masterclasses, had spoken fervently of this messianic acting teacher. I was intrigued.
We shuffled into the theatre and immediately I was struck by how present the audience would be, and wondered how anything productive could be achieved in such a potentially judging and formidable scenario. How wrong I was.
Larry entered to riotous applause and, donned in typically American-director attire, took his seat and the first scene began.
The inspiring thing about Larry Moss, which differentiates him from many acting teachers, is that he meets the actor halfway, if not further. His energy and knowledge is manifest and he has a genuine desire to help actors. In my own experience with teaching, it can be very easy to be lazy. Larry Moss is not lazy.
I quickly began to understand why he is considered not merely to be an acting teacher, but a walking self-help book. He seems to understand people or perhaps has discovered a commonality, at least with actors, of fear and self-doubt and he was steadfast in performing his exorcisms. Exorcism is rather a strong word, but what he was doing was deeply moving and powerful and, with many actors, it felt like he was ridding them of a life-long demon.
It became almost expected that in every scene at least one of the actors would break down in tears. Some even seemed to get on stage willing this release, tears already burgeoning in their eyes in the opening lines. So was this good? And is it fair or appropriate to crack these young actors open in a room abounding with their peers, agents and even casting agents?
I discussed this with an actor friend who accompanied me and we talked about it all the way home. It is a difficult debate. More and more, we are shutting off as a society and sharing less and less, so fearful to open up and discuss our issues. With respect to acting, I think, this timidity results in a visible restraint when performing. It leads to self-consciousness, poor habits and skin-deep acting, which is all too prevalent.
For this reason, I think what Larry does is brave and inspiring. You can see that he wants to help and his ego is not involved in the process. I respect all of the actors involved in the Masterclass for their bravery in getting up in front of that audience and being so open. Although we sometimes begrudgingly think that the ‘industry’ is only interested in commerciality and how people look, I think it, too, would have been inspired by the great acting on stage.
The support in the room was palpable; both the actors and auditors were effervescent after a day that involved the better part of nine hours sitting in a chair in a slightly too cold theatre. Watching a director work a scene can be one of the most arduous tests of endurance; after a day at Larry Moss, you are left wanting to go home and do a vocal warm up for another nine hours.
Empowerment is something actors so often lack and Larry gave it to us. He placed the emphasis back on the craft and gave back some of the power that we all too often yield up to that elusive and frustrating element of luck. His advice: ‘Be so good they can’t afford to not hire you’.
Should you do the Larry Moss Masterclass?
I would overwhelmingly encourage you to take part in the Larry Moss Masterclass. It is expensive and when you break it down into an hourly rate of the time that you will spend with Larry, it can start to look excessive, but it really isn’t about how many minutes you clock up with this great teacher. What he did for some of those actors has the potential to change them as artists and as people, which I think is worth the fee.
If you don’t have the money, make sure you get along next time to at least audit a day or two. By just being there, I was inspired. It was a reminder to steer clear of the sometimes quotidian dreariness of being an actor, complaining in coffee shops or at parties, slicing tall poppies with your words. It was a wake-up call to work hard, be specific, creative, and thwart carelessness and laziness, both in acting and in life. A poignant reminder to not let life pass you by, but to be invigorated and inspired by your art and your creativity. Now, who’s the walking self-help book?
Read Larry Moss’s book intent to live here
Have you taken part in a Larry Moss Masterclass? Let us know your opinion below…
Stage Milk would also like to thank 16th Street for inviting us along, and for bringing Larry Moss over for the Masterclass.