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Scene Studio: Birthplace of future Oscar winners from Rossland?
You can be a really busy little bee here in Rossland if you are a kid; there are so many activities, both recreational and artsy, to choose from to enroll your child in for fun, educational and social times. And Rossland’s own dynamic acting duo, G. Michael and Alicia Gray, who relocated to Rossland from busy Vancouver a couple of years ago, now offer a new avenue for kids to be creative and active.
It’s called Scene Studio, it’s located in the basement of the Bank of Montreal building, and you never know, it might just be the birthplace of some future Oscar winners.
Last May, Scene Studio was born and the Grays began offering acting classes to Rossland’s youth. “There are lots of exciting things to do in Rossland: arts, outdoor fantasticalness, even digital film making. But this one thing, an acting studio for young people, was missing. And we thought, hey, we would love to fill that gap!” says Alicia Gray.
Both Grays are professional, trained actors, who belong to ACTRA, and who both trained in theatre at Mount Royal University in Calgary, where the couple met. G. Michael Gray, went on to perform over 40 roles in TV and film after completing a scholarship-funded stint at a Vancouver acting school. Alicia went on to continue her theatre training at Company of Rogues. G. Michael’s IMdB page is here. Most recently he shot a film starring Robert Redford called The Company You Keep, and he also had a part in the locally shot The Tall Man starring Jennifer Biel. He’s also had guest spots on such popular TV shows as Fringe, Smallville, Stargate Atlantis, and my personal favourite, Cold Squad.
Both actors believe in the Constantin Stanislavski idea of “action and reaction,” a philosophy stemming from the work of that famous Russian actor and theatre director. “He taught that acting IS reacting,” explains Alicia, “that there can be no reaction without there first being an action. A truth based on basic physics. A scene always begins in the middle - there is always a moment before and when the director calls, "action" she wants your reaction. An honest reaction is what draws an audience in.”
Scene Studio offers three classes at the moment. Itty Bitty FUNdamentals is for ages 5 - 7 and it’s taught by Alicia. The description on the studio’s website says it’s “all about growing your imagination through theatrical play. We will explore the art of story-telling with music, masks and games while creating a strong foundation in the theatre.” Acting FUNdamentals is for ages 8 - 12, and is also taught by Alicia. Then there is a teen class for ages 13 - 19, which is taught by G. Michael. In this class, Alicia says, students, “learn about the industry, the art of auditioning for the camera, and what life on set is really like. This class evolves into scene study for longer term students.”
So, what can students expect from classes at Scene Studio? “Students should expect to get out of class what they are willing to put in,” Alicia explains. “The teen class is 2 hours one night a week but breaking down a scene and finding yourself in the work happens outside of class. Those kids who come to class ready to have fun, be open and honest in a scene, use their imaginations, learn and grow will gain the most. Our FUNdamentals classes are full of the honesty inherent with innocence and not taking oneself too seriously. I can't gush about our kids enough. They have been fantastic!”
The response has been fantastic, too, with classes being wait-listed over the summer and booked solid through October.
The space Scene Studio exists in is shared with other artists, but the Grays love it for other reasons, too. Alicia Gray enthuses, “it is intimate, accessible and has fantastic lighting. There is little not to love about the Old Bank of Montreal building - it reminds us of New York City! When an opportunity arose to share space we grabbed it with both hands.”
Of course we all know that the BoM building has been a haven and hangout for artists of many types in recent years, but perhaps it will also be the inspiration and environment someone Mountain Kingdom youth will use as a stepping off point to bigger things, like the silver screen.
Alicia continues, “Rossland's kids are awesome and there is a heap of talent here. Though, we won't be able to take all the credit, SCENEstudio is a jumping off point. A place to stretch and grow and cultivate a love for this craft before heading out to a larger experience.”
Alicia and G. Michael’s enthusiasm is infectious, and they have plans to grow Scene Studio in the future, too. “Adult Scene Study classes are definitely on the to-do list! Adults in Rossland are also awesome and always up for something new and challenging” says Alicia. “Summer 2013 we will be bringing in guest instructors, including casting directors, actors, and stunt co-ordinators, for weekend workshops. We are stoked!”
Classes run in four-week sessions starting the first Monday of the month. Both FUNdamentals classes are $75 for the four weeks, and the film and television class for teens is $100 for the four weeks. If you’re interested in signing your child up for something new and exciting, you can reach G. Michael and Alicia Gray by phone at 250-521-1559, by email, and for more information you can visit the Scene Studio website or their Facebook page.