Masters Class For Actors
A six-week Scene Study Class for professional-level actors, using scenes from selected film and television scripts. Judith has been coaching actors for 30 years. Her deep understanding of acting as a laboratory of life has led to her reputation as a miracle worker whose insights go to the heart of a scene, and to the soul of an actor. Her actors work regularly in all media.
“Judith, you have had such a profound effect on my work as an actress. It was such a stroke of luck that I found your class when I did and I know that my work blossomed so much since I started studying with you. I hear your voice often (probably daily) when it comes to my work. And I just want you to know how grateful I am that I found your class not only because you are so inspiring as a teacher but also an amazing woman that I can look up to.” – CAITRIONA BALFE, “Claire” in OUTLANDER
This class is for experienced actors who are auditioning and working at a professional level. To expand and develop your set of tools. To guide you to make choices for the material that give it – and you – the spark of life.
A limited number of directors will be allowed to attend this class, and direct scenes.
For schedule and pricing visit Workshop Schedule.
February-March 2015 Masters Class
For the upcoming session I've chosen a variety of film and television pilot scripts, all available on-line.
The film scripts: In Bruges; The Bourne Identity; Winter's Bone; You Can Count on Me; The Apartment.
Television pilot scripts (drama): Homeland; Mad Men; Orphan Black; The Good Wife; Breaking Bad; House; American Horror Story; Scandal; The Americans; Battlestar Galactica; Game of Thrones; Twin Peaks; Castle; House of Cards; Orange Is the New Black; Chuck; Dexter.
Television pilot scripts (comedy): 30 Rock; Parks and Recreation; Community; Two Broke Girls; Party Down; Seinfeld. (It will be okay to use scenes from any Seinfeld episode; they are all on-line.)
I want you to read as many scripts as you can, even if you have seen the shows. I know it's a lot; do the best you can. These are well-known shows and you may be familiar with the performances. I need to ask you – very strongly – not to re-watch the shows in preparation, and to refrain from viewing them if you haven’t seen them! Trying to duplicate anyone else's performance is a distraction from the real work. It is empowering to find your own inner Jason Bourne, or Fran Kubelik, or Walter White, or Olivia Pope, or Kramer, or Kalinda, or Dr. House, etc. We will be looking for the emotional truth and humanity in the inner life and the behavior of these characters, not a replication of the performances in the shows that aired.
It will be valuable to work on secondary and guest star roles, as well as the lead roles. You are welcome to choose roles to work on that you feel are like the roles you are likely to audition for. You are also welcome to stretch with roles that you might never be cast in – for instance, roles that were not written for your gender or age.
I encourage "double casting" - working on the same scene as someone else in the class. The purpose is not competition but confidence. Each actor can bring something unique to each role and each scene. We will be looking for ways for each of you to bring your own individual spark to the characterization, so that you will get noticed in auditions.
For the first class meeting, please choose and prepare a selection from one of the above scripts: either 1) a monologue or 2) a SHORT section (one page or less) of a two-person scene for someone to read with you, as if for an audition. You are welcome to make a selection of any age or gender. (I am completely open and in favor of gender-blind casting.) A monologue of about one minute in length, or a 2-person scene of a half page is best for length. At the first class meeting we’ll work on this prepared material, and I’ll assign two-person scenes for the following week.
For schedule and pricing visit Workshop Schedule.
Who Can Take the Masters Class
The Masters Class is open to actors by invitation, after a personal interview. Judith's Masters Classes are for actors at an advanced or intermediate level. Auditions are not required, but you need to have had training and professional acting experience. A personal interview with Judith is required to discuss your needs. There is no auditing of classes.
The Masters Class is open to a limited number of directors who have taken Acting for Directors with me, plus at least one other script analysis or rehearsal techniques workshop or private consultation.
Reading one of Judith’s books is pre-requisite to studying with her. Judith's first book Directing Actors has been hailed as a complete handbook on the craft of acting, and, as such, a perfect book for actors. Her second book The Film Director's Intuition is also designed for actors and writers as well as directors. Both Directing Actors and The Film Director's Intuition are practical, non-polemical and non-jargony—useful and inspiring for actors from all approaches and techniques.
Class enrollment is limited.
Features of Judith’s Masters Class
- Every actor works in every class. Students may work on a scene for a week or for several weeks. I expect students to bring in work that has been rehearsed outside of class.
- Stop doing it right! The surest way to lose your moment-by-moment reality as an actor and get in your head is to try to do it right. How can you follow your instincts if you’re trying to do it right?
- My tools for actors are simple and clear—they help you stay in the moment and make bold choices, take more risks. I think of script analysis as finding the deepest truth of the script and connecting it to the deepest truth in yourself.
- My teaching style is direct, open and supportive.
- Sometimes scenes are double-cast. In my classes, the goal of watching another pair of actors in the same scene is not competition—rather it is confidence. At the root is my deeply held conviction that each actor can bring something unique to each role. Seeing others bring the same role to life, with different choices, gives you confidence that you can trust your own ideas and follow your own instincts. It helps you give up the notion of “doing it right.” There is no right and wrong to creativity.
- I have been influenced by each of the major approaches to acting technique—Meisner, Strasberg, Stella Adler, Harold Guskin. But I do not have a set program of exercises that each student must master in a particular order.
- All of the work we do has application for auditions, as well as for work on a professional set.
- In professional settings, actors must respond to input they get from a director or casting director. But very often the direction given to actors is result oriented. In class we explore ways to make the translation from result direction (doing it “right”) to playable choices that free your voice and vision while allowing the script and director their voice and vision, too.
- The joy of acting. I believe deeply that acting should be pleasurable and life-affirming, health-giving, an act of love.
Policy and Pricing
Fees for all six-week classes are due at the first class of the session. There are no refunds for missed classes; fees are charged by the six-week session, not by the class.
Attendance is based on a personal interview; auditing is not permitted. Permission to visit or enroll in classes is at the discretion of the instructor; permission may be withdrawn at any time.
"Judith taught me how to communicate with actors in a completely new way, and what I learned from her has had a huge influence over both my work and my life. She is an incredible communicator, a gifted teacher, and a remarkable human being. I can't recommend her classes highly enough for directors and actors who want to bring more emotional truth to their craft."JULIUS RAMSAY, director, THE WALKING DEAD
"All the scary transformative moments I've had in your class really paid off. And I can never begin to thank you for all that you've done for me. I'm simply not the same person I was when I started my journey with you."ANDREA TOYIAS, Voice Director, Blizzard Entertainment, WORLD OF WARCRAFT / DIABLO / STARCRAFT
“I really wanted to thank you because I know that I could have not done it without the knowledge I got from you. You will always be one of the greatest teachers I've ever had and I'm truly proud to be one of your students. Thank you for teaching me to love my actors.”TANEL TOOM, writer-director, THE CONFESSION (nominated for Academy Award, Live Action Short Film, 2011)
“I took a seminar with an acting teacher named Judith Weston. I learned a key insight to character. She believed that all well-drawn characters have a spine, and the idea is that the character has an inner motor, a dominant, unconscious goal that they’re striving for, an itch that they can’t scratch. I took to this like a duck to water.”ANDREW STANTON [from his Feb 2012 TED Talk] writer-director, WALL-E, FINDING NEMO, A BUG’S LIFE; writer, TOY STORY, TOY STORY 2, TOY STORY 3
"Directing my first movie would have been impossible without Judith's book, 'Directing Actors.' Her insights taught me how to audition actors, how to cast intelligently, how to rehearse. When production began, I cribbed a set of Weston reminders on to a 3-by-5 index card, and kept it in my shirt pocket every single day of shooting. She saved me."BILLY RAY, writer-director, SHATTERED GLASS, BREACH; writer, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, THE HUNGER GAMES, STATE OF PLAY, FLIGHTPLAN
"Judith, you're the one that gave me the tools for success with actors!"KAREN GAVIOLA, director, SONS OF ANARCHY, CRIMINAL MINDS, CSI, NCIS, BLUE BLOODS, CSI:MIAMI, CASTLE, PRIVATE PRACTICE, LOST, GHOST WHISPERER, PRISON BREAK, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, NYPD BLUE
“Judith Weston taught me how to listen – what she called ‘listening with your whole body.’ She taught me about the power and the magic of the subconscious world. She showed me doors and windows and portals into creative possibilities I scarcely knew existed. Her wisdom changed the way I write, the way I direct actors – and, with no exaggeration, the way I look at life.”MARK FERGUS, co-writer: CHILDREN OF MEN, IRON MAN; director: FIRST SNOW
"Judith Weston is a great teacher. She's inspired me to be interested in people more than concepts, behavior more than attitudes, process more than results. In her classes I've learned to ask more questions, to trust what is happening, and to always be willing to dig deeper. She is the kind of teacher who makes me excited about taking chances."NORMAN BUCKLEY, director, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, RIZZOLI & ISLES, THE FOSTERS, THE CLIENT LIST, SWITCHED AT BIRTH, GOSSIP GIRL, CHUCK, MELROSE PLACE, 90210, THE O.C.
“You've taught me the essential tools so I could carry on with the visions that haunt me day and night and to embrace the process which I will continue to learn. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”DEJA PREM, writer/producer/director/actor, at Green Coco Production
“Your workshop was wonderful in letting me know that many of the things I am already doing are the correct way of dealing with actors and taught me other things that add to that knowledge. And your patience and unbridled energy and passion for what you teach is more than admirable, it is inspiring. So thank you once again for this wonderful experience, one I will never forget and that will continue to help me on this path on which I am forever learning about new and wonderful things.”MICHAEL TRIM, director, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, WEEDS, PARKS AND RECREATION
"Judith Weston is not a drama teacher, she is an art teacher. She understands that at the heart of great drama is a powerful mystery. What she shows you in her workshops and her book are simple and effective tools that help you get deeper and deeper into that rich, complex and surprising place."DAVID JACOBSON, writer-director, DOWN IN THE VALLEY, DAHMER
“In your classes I learned to love actors and acting. The experience opened for me the secret door to the magic I witnessed when actor and material find each other in just the right way. What I once thought were 'happy accidents' and performance miracles are now the kernels of creativity I relentlessly pursue with an actor finding a performance. You helped me find that part I could play in the process and how to capture it.”FRED TOYE, director, THE GOOD WIFE, PERSON OF INTEREST, RIZZOLI & ISLES, FRINGE, CHUCK, CSI:NY, LOST, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, GHOST WHISPERER, CHUCK
“Judith Weston gave me the greatest gift you can give to a first-time director - she gave me confidence in my ability to work with actors. I will be forever grateful for her extremely hands on and applicable advice for directing actors and I know I will use it for the rest of my career. She has a contagious love of the process and an unbelievable understanding of human emotion. I would not be where I am today if it had not been for her.”SHANA FESTE, writer-director, ENDLESS LOVE, COUNTRY STRONG, THE GREATEST
"Judith's method is wonderful because it is practical. She has given me numerous tools to solve problems on the set and to earn the trust of actors. Her classes and her book are invaluable resources to any director."LAWRENCE TRILLING, director, MASTERS OF SEX, PARENTHOOD, PUSHING DAISIES, DAMAGES, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, NIP/TUCK, MONK, SCRUBS, INVASION, ALIAS, FELICITY
"Every time I step on a set, I think of what Judith taught me. Every time I begin a project, I review a notebook I kept during the years I studied with her. Every time I'm in rehearsal, I'm using her techniques. Every time I'm in a bind within a scene, I go back to the foundation she gave me. I didn't go to film school. I sat in Judith Weston's workshops, took everything she said to heart, then went out and started telling my stories. I'm so grateful for that path - and for her."AVA DuVERNAY, director, SELMA (2015 Golden Globe nominee for Best Film, and Best Director), SCANDAL, MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (winner of the Best Director Award at Sundance Film Festival and the I
"Judith's ideas and principles are incredibly useful when it comes to giving clear, actionable direction to actors. To anyone aspiring to direct, I would recommend making her classroom one of your first stops."LEV L. SPIRO, director, MODERN FAMILY, UGLY BETTY, WEEDS, EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, ARLI$$, THE O.C., EVERWOOD, GILMORE GIRLS
"Everything you taught me was more than useful. I am deeply grateful."ALEJANDRO GONZÁLEZ IÑÁRRITU, director, BIRDMAN, BIUTIFUL, BABEL, 21 GRAMS, AMORES PERROS