Internationally renowned and distinguished acting coach Ivana Chubbuck will conduct a first ever Masterclass for both actors and directors in Melbourne in January next year, in collaboration with 16th Street Actors Studio.
Having famously coached Halle Berry to her Oscar win for Best Actress in Monster’s Ball, Ivana Chubbuck is also the author of the internationally bestselling book The Power of the Actor, hailed as the actor’s bible. As the founder and director of the Ivana Chubbuck Studio in Hollywood, she has worked with actors Brad Pitt, Jake Gyllenhaal, Charlize Theron and Sylvestor Stallone, as well as with directors Marc Forster, David Ayer and Fina Torres, to name but a few.
Chubbuck’s highly lauded technique (The Chubbuck Technique), her knowledge of and passion for the arts, her insightfulness and humble nature have made her an icon. She is revered by some of Hollywood’s biggest names, but she has also touched the lives of many outside of the industry through her teachings. Chubbuck has made it her life’s work to inspire others to greatness, and after 35 years, has no intentions of stopping.
Chubbuck was inspired to bring actors and directors together for the first time in a Masterclass to help bridge a communication gap she has often come across in her career. For actors and directors to achieve the best possible end result, working as a unit is imperative, she says.
“Directors come from all over the world to workshop their material with the actors here, and I’ve worked out a way that helps them build and create a common language that allows them to quickly and effectively achieve the best results in their end projects,” says Chubbuck, speaking from Los Angeles.
“I’ve seen scripts that were amazing, the acting was really good, but the director didn’t know how to put the pieces together to tell his story, he didn’t know how to talk to the actors. And I’ve seen horrible scripts with actors and directors working so closely together, and it’s becoming a really great film. It’s very much about communication,” she says.
Chubbuck travels the world teaching her technique to actors and recently conducted Masterclasses in Japan and Norway, but she is particularly thrilled to be bringing her first ever Actor Director Masterclass to Australia, a country she has a long association with. “I thought, ‘you know what? Why don’t I do it in one of my favourite places in the world, Australia?’” she says, her enthusiasm evident.
Chubbuck, who has worked with numerous Australian actors including Isla Fisher, is also the long time acting coach of Travis Fimmel, who currently stars in the award winning drama series Vikings. Fimmel also landed a lead role in the upcoming and highly anticipated fantasy film Warcraft after spending many hours preparing for the audition with Chubbuck. To any Australian actors who have the opportunity to work with Chubbuck in Melbourne in January, Fimmel says they must “grab it with both hands.” And there is also the opportunity for people to attend the Melbourne Actor Director Masterclass as auditors (observers), something Chubbuck says can be career changing.
“I recently got back from doing a workshop in Tokyo and days later I got emails from people who had been auditors. One person booked a lead in a movie, one person booked a lead in a series. The fact of the matter is, every workshop I do around the world, the actors and the auditors are actually getting something out of it that is changing their careers,” she says.
As to how to audit effectively, Chubbuck says one must personalise what they are seeing on stage. “What happens when you audit properly is you think: What would I do? Why would I need to make this piece? What is the vision I would have? So you personalise it – that’s how you properly audit. And you’re walking away having participated in all of it.”
The Chubbuck Technique, as elucidated in her book The Power of the Actor is taught in acting schools the world over. It is one that has brought Chubbuck great success and is made up of practical tools and exercises actors can put to use quickly, and effectively. It is a simple philosophy of creating empowerment, one that extends beyond acting, and even beyond the arts. “The basic thing about my technique is how to take pain and trauma and use it to fuel your ability to overcome and win,” she says.
“My technique is based in behavioural science and psychology, cultural anthropology; that’s what I studied in school, and it’s easily applicable and it’s practical, because we use this information every day. And that’s we did when we worked on Monster’s Ball, me, Marc Forster and Halle Berry,” Chubbuck explains.
“We all sat together in my home and I said, ‘before we begin to look at the material, Marc, why do you need to make this movie?’ It’s the first thing I ask my directors: ‘why do you need to make this TV show or movie? What is it you’re trying to say?’ And then we backtrack and make that happen. The first thing you have to look at is, how can the actors help facilitate that vision? And that’s what we did together as a team, me, Marc and Halle. What was in the original script of Monster’s Ball and what you saw in the movie were two different things.”
As to what she is expecting from the actors and directors participating in her Masterclass, Chubbuck says she’s looking forward to not only teaching, but also learning from the experience. “It’s going to be very intensive and I expect there’s going to be a lot of growth for all of us, me included. I think we’re all going to grow and learn exponentially,” she says.
“I find when a teacher stops learning a teacher should stop teaching. Education should be infinite. It’s like when I was working with Sylvester Stallone, everyone was like ‘you don’t need to act with a coach.’ I mean, he’s an icon, and he’s older, and he’s proven himself time and time again. So it was like, why are you working with a coach for? Well, because he wants to grow. In his words, there’s so much more to learn, and I want to never stop learning.”
Above: Ivana Chubbuck speaks about her upcoming Masterclass in Melbourne…
Being a great actor involves hard work, long hours and dedication, says Chubbuck. “Anything that has some kind of glory to it is going to take an extra amount of work, and extra amount of heart. I’m really looking forward to learning from both the actors and directors in Melbourne, as they hope that they will expect to learn and grow from me.”
The Ivana Chubbuck Actor Director Masterclass will take place in Melbourne on January 7 – 10, 2016. Participant (Actors and Directors) applications close midday, December 4. For more information or to book tickets, visit http://www.16thstreet.com.au/classes/ivana-chubbuck-masterclass/
Both 16th Street and Showcast are offering scholarships to participate in The Ivana Chubbuck Actor Director Masterclass. 16th Street is offering two scholarships for professional directors, and directors interested in applying should contact the Studio Manager Emily O’Brien-Brown at 16th Street. Showcast is offering scholarships for two actors who are Showcast members. For more information about the actors scholarships and to apply see http://www.showcast.com.au/ivana-chubbuck-actor-director-masterclass/
Stay tuned for our exclusive part 2 of this interview!
Note featured image: Ivana Chubbuck teaches a Masterclass in Rome, 2015. Photo courtesy of Ivana Chubbuck Studio