BWW News: The Actors' Center of Washington Continues to be a Resource for Performers
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many theatres and theatre companies to struggle to stay afloat. But the 39-year old Actors' Center of Washington (AC) has found ways to adapt which sustain its mission to provide actors with resources to help them to succeed. The importance of the on-line audition announcements, the library of plays, the postings of PWYC performances and other events, and the on-line casting database, which the AC manages for its 800+ members, has necessarily receded during this time of closures. But Emily Morrison, Acting Executive Director of the AC, says that the classes, workshops, and training services always announced and provided by the AC have now increased in significance. Historically, the non-profit Actors' Center has organized its activities around actors' needs, she explains, pointing out that actors have to stay in shape just as athletes do. Since auditioning for shows has been curtailed by the pandemic, Morrison notes that it's the perfect time for actors to work on developing new skills while maintaining techniques. Accordingly, the AC has expanded its role in actor training.
Thanks to the technical savvy of Zoe Walpole, Programming and Digital Marketing Manager for the AC, workshops that used to take place at the AC office or in other venues around DC now take place via the internet. This has drawn participants and instructors from out of town; the Actors' Center of Washington remains the only organization of its kind in the US. The AC supports beginning actors, Equity and SAG veterans, and everyone in between. Morrison says the AC's holistic approach supports professionalism on and offstage the same way a trade union would, but at a much lower annual cost for membership. The professional theatres in the DC-MD-VA area have supported the work of the AC by regularly attending AC-sponsored auditions.
In the past, the AC has offered such classes as "Acting for Commercials," "Meet the Casting Director," and "Improvisation." Since moving to Zoom, members have been able to participate in "Mindfulness," "Shakespeare Monologue Workshop," and "Dialects." Already scheduled in the near future are a weekly "Sunday Stretch," "Voice Workout," and "Introduction to Stella Adler Technique."
Morrison and her strong and energetic Board plan to enable the AC to continue contributing to the strength of the DC theatre community. "We're a small organization," she says, "but we've got a big heart."