Spotlight on Acting Schools and Coaches
Backstage, January 18, 2002

It’s All in the Questions for Ty Treadway

Ty Treadway is best known to audiences these days as twin brothers Colin and Troy MacIver on the ABC-TV daytime drama, “One Life to Live.” Needless to say, as with most “soap” characters, the brothers’ stories are complex, with twists and turns galore. Treadway believes that his acting studies, and most especially his work with coach Sande Shurin, has helped him deliver a believable, realistic portrayal of the MacIver brothers, and of many other characters he has portrayed in other areas of his acting career.

He believes that taking classes and continuing to study is “part of an actor’s job.” Treadway points out that working with different partners on different kinds of scenes in class does more than strengthen one’s acting skills. It prepares a performer for the realities of working life, where, for instance, one scene partner may be more in tune with your style than another.

Turning to a coach is a step further along the road beyond classes, he says, because of the intensive one-on-one nature of the work. Treadway has worked with several coaches over the years “when an important audition was coming up or when I felt I needed to do more work on a particular character.”

He settled upon Shurin because he likes the “key questions” she asks. “The questions a coach throws at you tells you quickly whether or not that person can help you.” He feels that coaches are directors as much as they are teachers. “Even when you’re an experienced, working actor, there’s so much to bear in mind that sometimes you can miss the forest for the trees.”

Treadway has found that Shurin “treats an actor as an equal part in the process. I’ve run into some coaches whose approach is to tell you what to do. I find that Sande has helped me to actually become the character, to infuse myself into that character.” He explains that she puts aside the text. “The lines will come later, in her view, and I find that, in fact, once you’ve really taken on that character, that work will come through even if you don’t say the exact lines written, so long as you are conveying the sense of what is to be said.” Treadway feels that “you know within 10 minutes if a coach is right for you. I suggest that actors who are considering working with a given coach take classes with that person first. If you find that his or her approach seems right for you, then pursue your studies with that person on a more individualized basis.”

When he works with Shurin, for instance, she will initially ask such questions as what clothes a character would wear, and urge the actor to wear such clothes while preparing. “Let’s say you’re playing a banker,” Treadway points out. “The moment you put on a suit and tie, rather than doing the preparatory work while you’re wearing jeans, you start to stand differently, behave differently.

“Of course, that’s only the very beginning of the work at hand. But everything else is a progression from that effort to become the character, rather than merely imitating the character.”

Treadway started out as an accountant and computer systems engineer and, after winning the “Mr. Natural Pennsylvania” bodybuilding contest, headed for New York and began to study and to work in theatre, commercials, and modeling for GQ Magazine. He has had roles on the TV series “Ally McBeal” and “Just Shoot Me,” and has appeared in several independent films. In addition to his ongoing work in “One Life to Live,” he is co-producing and starring in the film “Or Forever Hold Your Piece,” a dark comedy.

Treadway finds that with greater experience, there is less reason to turn to coaching sessions frequently. But he feels strongly that everything he learned when he did do so has stayed with him, and that he regularly applies the lessons he learned from the character work and give-and-take discussions that took place during coaching lessons. And there are still times when a particular audition or character calls for the kind of objective assessment he feels that a strong, involved coach such as Shurin provides.