Robert Fowler

When did you start with Sande?
In 1992. The other teachers I’d tried critiqued my work in class as a finished product. I liked Sande’s technique better because she worked with who I was in the scene. I also didn’t feel I was categorized or limited to my type in her class like I was in the others.

I’ve learned so much from her. In the first class I discovered my emotional body. There are so many things in here (in the body) to connect with. I learned I didn’t have to be anybody other than who I was in that class. I have room to grow because of her techniques. I am very critical of myself, but she makes a point of making sure you go away with something positive from each class. She helped me accept my faults. I can change them if I want. Or not!

If I do a scene today, I know I’ll do the scene tomorrow as a different person. Knowing that means I don’t have to act.

Has her teaching affected your auditions?
Oh yes. There was one audition that, because of traffic, I got to an hour late. I was anxious that when I got up to sing, it was a song by Bonnie Raitt, I could not think of the words to sing. But I couldn’t leave at that point. So the music started and I just had to focus in on this is who I am, this what I’m singing and GO. I knew the feelings but not the words to convey it. I just had to trust that this would work. And it did. Afterwards the auditioner said that four other women had sung that same song that day but I was the only one who GOT it. I wasn’t terrified until afterwards when I realized what I had done.

Are you less critical of your performing since studying with Sande?
No, I am still as critical, but I accept that this is who I am, I can asses my work much better, and being critical doesn’t stop me the way it did before.
Fear drives me. I wasn’t able to acknowledge it until I took some of her breakthrough classes. I make decisions based on fear. I accept it, acknowledge the moment then move past it.
I am not less fearful, but I can move in spite of it. I find myself saying yes to things where I would have said no before.

What is the most rewarding thing you have done in class?
There are a couple.

The first was in my second intensive. I did a cold scene with a new scene partner. I’d seen the scene once and I pre-supposed it would go a certain way. But in the middle of it I was bawling. In the cap, Sande said it was because I wasn’t thinking–when something hit me, it moved me, I allowed it to happen.

The second was when I was doing “Of Mice and Men”. I was Lenny. She helped me stop my mind from constantly working. I gave in to it and was transformed, I found myself doing little mannerisms that Lenny would do, that I never would…
In her classes, even when I’m tired, I come in and I’m there to work. I’m present.
The hardest thing I’m working on in class is that in real life I don’t get angry. She pushes me to do scenes where I get upset. I chose a really hard one from “Split Second” and she said if this is the scene you’re going to do, then I can’t walk around it.

What techniques do you use regularly?
I always use my emotional body. For each song, I use the three traits for the character that sings. And I’ll change them every day, if necessary. I’ll write a line for each song–the interior monologue of what I want to accomplish in the song: this is what I want to do with the song and this is the journey I take.

Can you describe her method?
It’s hard to describe. She made me comfortable in my skin. Able to acknowledge myself. Everything I am at the moment is all I need to do what I want to do.

The intensive gets you out of your own way. I would recommend it to everyone. To someone interested in taking strides and pushing yourself in acting it’s a good class. But you have to go in open minded! Don’t pre-suppose it. It’s more powerful than what you can imagine. With each distinction you also learn about another part of yourself.

The name Transformational Acting really fits. You transform who you are and use everything you are as the character, and keep totally present. You utilize all your idiosyncrasies to transform into those of the character. But you always have a reference to who you are.

In a play, the character is just here for a moment, but if you look beyond the framework of the play, the character is not limited. It helps you to allow yourself to bring anything to the character.

Even in shows where I was a dancer I would us the technique to keep the moments alive. In one of my shows, every day my partner and I would do the same routine but we would use the technique to be different characters. It was play. There was no right or wrong. And there was always discovery, which I love.

Can everyone benefit from the technique?

Is she right for everyone?
No. You have to come in ready to work. She’ll come up against you often. Her goal with everyone is to move forward from wherever you are.