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TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

Lisa in Chicago Street's 2009 production of Doubt.Director of Education
Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano: 

My work grows out of the conviction that it is vital and necessary to teach two facets in all creative work in the theatre -- to emphasize “coming home” as much as, if not more than, “going there.” The starting point and underlying current in all my work is based in clarifying and illuminating the often blurred difference between using yourself and losing yourself. That, to me, is the purpose of a system or method of training, and the distinction between creative expression and dangerous indulgence. 

  • I believe acting requires exploration and observation of the human condition, including the effects of social and physical environments. It also requires a great deal of listening, generosity, and discipline.
  • I believe it is essential to balance constructive criticism with nurturing support in order to create a studio environment based in trust and one conducive to uninhibited exploration and risk-taking.
  • I believe it is necessary to originate critical thinking and significant for artists to learn how to make assessment of their own process/progress and how to actively engage in the candid exchange of constructive feedback.
  • I believe it is pivotal when developing artists are encouraged to discover and, in turn, define their place in and responsibility for community and the world at large.
  • I believe collaboration is at the core of truly exceptional theatre work and that it must be encouraged at all times and inspired by example.
  • I believe we need theatre and the arts now more than ever and that it is our responsibility as educators and artists to ensure they flourish.
  • I believe it is the responsibility of the instructor and organization to maintain professional protocol and collegial courtesy at all times, regardless of artistic differences or personality variances.

The study of acting is a journey and as such, I use the analogy. Students are asked to prepare for the trip by packing a metaphorical suitcase. I bring my own, packed to the brim with passion and a collection of influences and experiences -- a piece of all I have studied with, worked with, read, and observed; personal discoveries, moments of inspiration, accidents, patience, understanding and compassion. I ask all to simultaneously pack commitment, discipline, respect, and fearlessness.

The journey itself involves learning foundational skills which I refer to as a legend on a map. I believe if you have learned the skills necessary to interpret a legend, you can read any map, travel any terrain and, most importantly, always navigate your way back home.

© Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano, 2002