(Updated 02/09/18. Class begins 03/28/18)
The Master Acting Class with Maggie Flanigan is a small and selective scene study class at the Maggie Flanigan Studio. In this video, Tara Westwood talks about what it is like work with Maggie in a small class.
Why Did You Decide To Take Master Class with Maggie Flanigan?
I took the master class with Maggie because I had done the two-year program with her and that’s the very base of what you need. I know there’s never a time where I’m ever going to say “I don’t need class anymore, I am a good enough actor” that sentence is just never going to come out of my mouth regardless of the work or the caliber of work that I’m doing. I’m not a series lead on a show yet, so I want to be working five days a week you have to do something every single day. So the moment I hear that there’s a master class and I can be working with Maggie, it’s an opportunity I will not want to do.
The caliber of work that you do in class is higher than pretty much any play or TV set or film set that you’re going to be on. It’s not often that you get to work on people like Tennessee Williams or Arthur Miller or Shanley or Guergis or all of the playwright’s she insists that you work on. It’s not very often that level of writing is something that you get to chew on. To be able to have her guiding you and calling you on your stuff and directing you.
You show up on set typically on a TV set or a low-budget film, and I have got one take, or the director might be like “Great, put the pillow down and then walk over.” You have to show up and be ready for your work. That’s why they hired you. So there’s not a lot of direction on set. Apparently on some films, sure if someone works with Martin Scorsese, I’m sure there’s direction on that set. Most sets I find that there’s not a lot of direction. So not only does working with Maggie helped me prepare to be the actor that I have to be as a professional working actor once I got a job, but it also improves who I am as an actor. The process that she puts you through though hard at times is necessary to get the work done.
How Important Was The Small Class Size?
The small class size was hugely important. I also think that coaching is important for a particular job so there’s that aspect where you could have it just one-on-one, and that’s great, but I also don’t want 40 people in the class because then that’s just too much. The small class with Maggie is great because you still get to see the other actors do their work but she gets to know you well enough that she can help you. Every single person in that class is a better actor when they leave because they’ve had enough time.
I hear about people that go to other studios, and they maybe work that week, or they maybe don’t work that week. I don’t want to take a masterclass or any class where I may not work. Now you may not work in Maggie’s class for more than a minute if you haven’t done your work and you show up, and you’re not doing what you should do.
“What are you doing?” “What are you doing?” You might get stopped and told to come back the following week better prepared, but you’ll always work, and she will take the time to get you to that next level. She couldn’t do that if there were 50 people in the class.
What Was It Like To Work Closely with Maggie?
Maggie is a pillar in my life, far beyond just my acting teacher. She is someone that has made me a better actor. I love acting which is more than anything in my life, anything other than the people that I love my children, of course, the best, besides there’s nothing that I love more than acting. It is the most important thing in my life. It sounds dramatic, but I would want to die if I could not act. So for me, the fact that she can help me with something that I have such as absolute love for is even beyond what it’s done to my career. I leave class, and I am so on fire. My kids can practically tell when I come home from class, but there’s a sparkle in my eye and they know I am ready to go or I might seem the opposite where I’m worn down but in a right way. Then I want to fight through. It makes me a better actor, and because of how much I love it fulfills me in ways that nothing else does.
What Did You Find Challenging About The Class?
Everything that was challenging about the master class is the same thing that I love about it. She pushes you, and she brings you down to the basics of what maybe you learned, hopefully, learned, before the master class. We as actors forget the simple questions that we should be asking ourselves when we’re working on a script. Maybe it’s a character that you usually couldn’t work on, which is something I’ve loved about masterclass. To be able to do that with her has been a wonderful thing for me. You work on these characters that you normally couldn’t get. So you’ve got to push yourself, and she will do that in a way though that you feel safe. I have done some characters in class that I know I am not going to get cast as outside of the studio, but I loved the writing, and with her I want to be able to do it because I know that she’ll push me and push me and push me at least to where I’m doing well with it. Maggie makes it safe, so I don’t feel like I completely suck. If you are afraid to make a choice because of the consequences or how you’re going to look, you are going to get paralyzed. She makes you feel safe to do so and yet pushes you in a way that you’re not going to get outside of the studio.
How Did the Class Get You Back On Course with Your Career?
I wish I could take this class with Maggie every day. It’s the level of work that you get to do in class; you just don’t experience it outside of the studio. When I meet working actors or people that have maybe finished the two-year acting program and other actors, they think that they are done. Are you done? Unless you are willing to do something for your craft and your work every single day, I think you are going to naturally slide back. When I hear actors say that they don’t need any more training, immediately I think I don’t want to work with this person, and they’re just wrong.
Maybe it’s different, if you are in a series and you are a series lead or if you are Daniel Day-Lewis. Everyone in between should be in a master class. You have to keep improving, and you have to be reminded. Maggie will remind you of the basic foundation that you need to be a good actor. We lose it, and we do we forget it. We get off track. Then I come to class, and I think if I just would have asked myself that question on that last job that would have been a better thing for my reel. So I need to come back to be often reminded of the basics that I should never forget and to be pushed. I know she’s going to push me in a way that I don’t get pushed outside of here. If you do you get flatlined. I know a few people that are talented that got out of the business. One of them I recently told that if he would have come back to the master class that maybe he would not have given up. He stopped getting better; it was not fulfilling anymore, so his career didn’t move forward. That killed him.
I remember I did a movie my first ever movie and I immediately said to my agent “no more auditions. “I have to go to the masterclass. I have to go back to class because I don’t I don’t know what I’m doing.” I knew enough that I got a feature film, but that was it. It was the same with the first time I showed up on the TV set. You have got to show up so well prepared because they’re not going to have often time to direct you. You are working with people that are working actors so what you learn in the master class is what you need to be able to function as a working artist.
Register Now For The Master Class
For more information about the Master Class with Maggie Flanigan, contact the studio directly by calling 917-789-1599.