Read about Sande at the following links:
New York Times – feature article on Sande Shurin and Bruce Levy (Fri, Aug 1st, 2011). Click Here
Backstage Article – “What Acting Teacher Inspired You?”. Click Here
The Soul of the American Actor – Interview. Click Here
The Dr. Paul Hannig Radio Show – Interview. Click Here
New York Casting – Interview by Kelly Calabrese. Click Here
You can read more interviews with Sande in the following books:
“Acting Teachers of America”
by Ronald Rand & Luigi Scorcia
“Promoting Your Acting Career”
by Glenn Alterman
“The Actor’s Guide to Qualified Acting Coaches-NY”
by Larry Silverberg
“Breaking into Commercials”
by Terry Berland
“Professional Actor Training in New York City”
by Jim Monos
“Yes, I’m That Guy: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Character Actor”
by William Sanderson with Ray Richmond.
Woodstock Times 2007
Sande Shurin has been attending the Woodstock Film Festival since its first outing seven years ago. She knew people in its film (our students) knew the many members of the local community who were helping to bring it to reality year in and year out, and knew the sort of films the WFF was bringing to screens throughout the town and surrounding area were just the sort of cinema she and her husband Bruce Levy had adored. After all it was a type of movie making that was akin to the Broadway and Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway worlds she’s been a power figure in for decades.
Shurin was one of the founding directors of OOBA (The Off-Off Broadway Theatre Alliance) and she has directed such renowned works as The Price Of Genius, Sada with Sylvia Miles at such theatres as Lincoln Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Playwrights Horizons. She directed the cable series Working Actors and has been seen on Oprah and America’s Next Top Model.
She’s known as one of the industry’s top acting coaches, with studios in New York and Woodstock, able to coach film and television actors about to undertake a stage play. and get film-and television-specific performances from those better suited for live theatre.
…Shurin and Levy will be presenting their first narrative film work after years of directing and writing for theatre and television their five minute bon-bon True Love plays on the WWF’s short film program…
The new work, according to its director, is a “sweet but still fiercely independent” romantic scene set in a cafe at a (French International) airport , where an affair seems to blossom between a beautiful French women and a handsome American man among the chatter, clatter and charm (of cafe life). Subtitles in both French and English highlight the secrets each is holding from the other.
“We shot this one in New York on a camera we taped together” says Shurin whose name pops up regularly at all auditions because of all the top actors she has worked with.” Now, we’re putting together a second short, which will be longer, that we’re planning to shoot up here in January.”
After that Shurin announces-with husband Levy murmuring enthusiastic approvals in the background- the couple is planning to take on their first feature work in the spring. for an eventual premier at their hometown festival, if they can swing it.
Their works, Shurin says, have all been made possible with the help of her acting students and other films from the theatre, television and film worlds. As well as the festival itself, which the acting coach has credited with making film directing seem possible.
“The festival helped me shift my attention to film without skipping a beat,” she says. “When you’re there, watching all these great films, the act of film making becomes accessible and available. You just don’t get the same sense of encouragement when you’re watching a Hollywood film.”
Shurin adds that the WFF’s continued existence has made her and Levy’s split time between here and the City, with three to four days in each location, not only possible but inevitable.
“In many ways,” she added “I have ended up feeling that there’s something about the whole Woodstock Film Festival experience that’s, well, sort of like an extension on my classes.”
Back Stage -Off the Bookshelf –
Great Actors and How To be One, By Michael Lazan
…..Also with a rather contemporary bent is Transformational Acting: A Step Beyond, Sande Shurin’s book that describes a “Zen -like” philosophy with exercises to uncover the actor’s “inner self.” Shurin’s technique abandons Stanislavsky’s “sense memory” method and is more akin to Stella Adler’s techniques, with the difference being that Adler focuses more on the script while Shurin focuses more on the actor uncovering his or her “unique self.” The script analysis is not ignored here; it’s merely put aside until the actor is able to rearrange his or her psyche to fit the piece.
Notwithstanding the rather mysterious title, the book contains some segments that are more or less typical of acting volumes, with mention of techniques on how to manage practical problems such as being prepared for auditioning. There are also plenty of exercises in the book, from “living in the situation” to “character psyche” to turning points.” The overall impression is that Shurin’s approach is best for those with an open mind and a very thorough disposition. Certainly, lazy or under motivated actors will not want to exhaust themselves with the work that Shurin envisions them doing. Visualization seems an important aspect to many of the exercises, which also involve delving deep into the idiosyncratic details of the character’s world..
If you don’t know Shurin, she is a teacher in New York City and Woodstock, N.Y. who has also directed, including at BAM and Playwrights Horizons.. Among her former pupils are Anthony Rapp, Matthew Modine, and Daphne Rubin-Vega.
Emmy Magazine – It’s not only rock ‘n’ roll
THE TRANSFORMATION OF SANDE SHURIN’S ACTING METHOD did not begin in the theater. “I was more excited in the 1970’s by going to rock concerts and watching Mick Jagger and David Bowie than by going to the theater,” says Shurin, who was then directing in New York. “I was thrilled with the performance quality. They were with the people, having an experience, and the audience was having an experience.”
The realization led Shurin to revamp the way acting is taught, creating what she calls the first technique that “does not stand on the shoulders of Stanislavsky — it doesn’t use past sense memory, it doesn’t use the future or imagination.” Instead, Shurin teaches actors to transform themselves into characters using their inner , “real” selves. The technique is effective both as an enhancement to or a replacement for training in the Method or Meisner techniques, she says.
A native New Yorker, Shurin teaches primarily in her hometown but also leads workshops in L.A., London and Canada. Her book, Transformational Acting: A Step beyond, was published late last year by Limelight. She teaches actors like Matthew Modine to use the same technique for television as for theater or film. Shurin hasn’t always been a fan of the small screen. She loves HBO though: “They have great actors and lots of freedom.” She also admires Treat Williams’ work on the WB’s Everwood and Jennifer Garner’s on ABC’s Alias.
Shurin was working with an experimental theater group in SoHo in the late ’60s when she decided to add words to a silent performance piece. She matched poetry to the action and decided she was ready to become a director. A friend introduced her to playwright Leonard Melfi, whose Ah! Wine! became the first of a series of New York shows she directed. Shurin’s acting theories developed from directing plays, including The Price of Genius on Broadway, produced by her husband, talent agent Bruce Levy. Her theater group, Drifting Traffic, was one of the five founders of the Off-Off Broadway Alliance.
The Soul Of The American Actor – Transformational Acting: A Step Beyond
Life occurs. The bell rings. The baby cries. The food burns. We don’t sit and wait for “it” to happen. When “it” occurs we grunt, mutter , moan, make noises, say words…we respond…but first comes life, then the words become illuminated.
To work in this truth is to create the life without predetermining. This includes the actions, relationships, dynamics and emotions beneath and before the words. It takes true listening and responding. It takes being in the moment and open to new and sometimes extraordinary possibilities that being in touch with your “universal truth” provides.
The actor must be daring and risky; he must defy habits, boundaries, limitations and conventions. It takes living and acting from the silent space within ourselves; this inner creative mode affords you the brilliance and freedom to transform into what you’ve not yet become. It yields an enlivening experience for actor, audience, and even as a lifestyle for any and all human beings.
* * * * * * *
What do most actors want? To be bold, to be dangerous, to work on the edge, to be connected. What interferes with this? Holding onto pictures, figuring things out, controlling how you respond, rehearsing and then trying to repeat the exact emotions. Cut it out!!
Repeat the blocking and staging. Hit the marks, each and every take. Know your lines. Let everything else–emotional life, behavioral response, relationship and interior monologue occur in the moment. Don’t freeze your performance.
The have-to’s are learnable and become part of your kinetic sense. When you enter a room in your house, you automatically (through kinetic sense) know where the light switch is. Similarly, with training and experience, the technical aspects become second nature so that you can work in the moment and take risks.
* * * * * * *
If you want to be a dangerous, risky actor, take chances and be risky. Live in some danger, Be willing not to know. Become engaged and have an experience; that’s the only way the audience will have an experience. In short, take the lid off. Risk is how you work with potential and create more potential.
* * * * * * *
Look inside of you! Everything is within you. Each script will siphon up usable elements form inside you to use for the character.
We are in a privileged position as performers. Audiences see themselves though us: new prototypes, new possibility, new answers to life’s dynamic questions. What we need as performers, to be able to accomplish this, is the same as we need as human beings to consistently design new life.
* * * * * * *
Acting comes from the spirit and the spirit is invisible. Artists work with these invisible forces making them visible. We can recognize these forces as dreams, intuitions or new impulses, which help the actor to transform into character, and make the inner connections that are needed to find the moments of the script.
Allow yourself to be VULNERABLE and let your SELF show (including your embarrassment and your fears). Feeling what you don’t want to feel and feeling what you’re trying to hide are the key to opening your instrument. What are you vulnerable to? Stand with it; don’t run from it. Including the darker side of you, is germane for your growth.
Performance is a mystical experience and everyone has to find their own way to get there. It is not an ordinary way of being. It takes the ability to surrender, to focus and to take action, just as an athlete does. Everything you encounter along the way you can surmount with strong commitment.
* * * * * * *
We know that a key to acting is SURRENDER. But the actor often asks, “How do I surrender?” To surrender is to open yourself to a major force, to let things be as they are. Let go od defenses, attitudes and decisions, and surrender to your feelings, instincts and impulses.
To achieve all of this you must ALLOW it. Allow the energy and the information to work on you. Allow yourself to assimilator it. Allow yourself to transform. Allow yourself to take risks and work with passion.
The invisible forces, the actor’s inner essence and spirit, as well as his emotional instrument, all form the rich core that is to become “character.” This gives us a place to start from.
The spirit and soul of the actor is in you, whether for the joy of expressing itself, or the healing, or even to remind us that we are acting to fulfill our purpose.
Techniques of Transformation
It’s all about being in the moment. So claims Sande Shurin, and she should know. She recently transformed a race truck driver who works as a machinist in Wisconsin into a world class, lip-synching drag queen. And she did it all on-camera for a new series coming to The Learning Channel called “Faking It.”
It’s not the first time Shurin has done the impossible. She recently captured her methods of transfiguration into a book, Transformational Acting, which discusses how she developed her particular technique. “All of the other acting teachers stand on the shoulders of Stanislavsky,” explained Shurin. “This is a technique that is not based on Stanislavsky. It focuses on the power of the self, and the power of the present. It works with the emotional body, which is my discovery, rather than the sense memory. We use exactly what is going on with us in each moment.
According to Shurin, the technique “works for all mediums – we have clients that are in TV, we have clients that are in films and theater, like Anthony Rapp who went from being the star in RENT to being a co-star in A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crowe. I also work with a lot of super models, to help them transition from modeling to acting.”
In order to teach her technique to Hudson Valley denizens, Shurin has maintained a storefront in Saugerties. This spring, she and her husband, Bruce Levy, will open a new center for transformational acting in Woodstock, where they will hold workshops and Shurin will offer private coaching.