“I am confident Susan Batson will go down in history as one of acting’s legendary teachers.”
– Nicole Kidman, Academy Award Winning Actress
Unmet need. Public persona. Tragic flaw.
This class will examine Batson’s elements for character development, including the life of the character, according to the given circumstances of the text. Prior to the class, actors will choose a character to prepare for the workshop, using Batson’s text, Truth, as guidance. This class will cover 5 exercises.
The actor will learn to determine what the overall need of the character is. In drama, as in life, the character’s need can be determined by looking directly opposite of what the character is outwardly doing. The unfulfilled need is where the actor weaves his/her identity and life experiences, not just in the literal sense, but imaginatively so the actor can take full ownership of the characters they play.
The Private Moment Exercise
The Private Moment is behaviour that comes directly out of NEED. It is the kind of behaviour that you may likely work hard to cover up in public. It is the very essence of you.
Tragic Flaw Exercise
The Tragic Flaw is what emerges when the unmet need and persona are in conflict. It is often the moment of catharsis in a character’s journey in a script. The actor will explore the Tragic Flaw of their character, and examine how it acts out.
Animal/Daily Activity Exercise
Animal work helps the actor transform him/herself into the essence of a character. Many great actors have used this dimension to transform themselves (Marlon Brando in ‘The Godfather’, Robert De Niro in ‘Raging Bull’, for example). The actor will explore the animal’s physical behaviour and later internalise or humanise that behaviour. This transforms the actor, creating unconventional ‘movement and vocalisation and allowing the actor more dynamic choices to bring to their characterisation).
To create a walking, talking human being, you must have the character’s need, tragic flaw and public persona, previous circumstances and an understanding of the character’s current circumstances. Actors will work on a 2-3 minute monologue incorporating all of these elements of character into the piece.
Entry is by selection. We highly recommend anyone applying to work with Susan Batson to be familiar with her book Truth and have an understanding of her process of work.
NB: Susan Batson will also complete a second Masterclass during the day which is an in-house program for 16th Street Actors Studio members and alumni only.
Actor, writer, director, producer and teacher Susan Batson has been called a “technician of the spirit” by the New Yorker. In private consultations on film sets all over the world, and in her New York based studio, Susan Batson has worked with hundreds of actors over the course of her career, including Nicole Kidman, Juliette Binoche, Jennifer Connelly, Liv Tyler, Jamie Foxx, Tom Cruise, and countless others searching for truthful connections between themselves and the characters that they play.
Actress and Academy Award Winner Juliette Binoche praises Susan’s ability to “shake you like a tree and get the fruits down.”
Susan Batson trained extensively with Lee Strasberg, Uta Hagen, and Herbert Berghof in New York. She was a protégé of theatre legends Joseph Papp and Harold Clurman. She is a member of The Actors Studio, and a recipient of a New York Drama Critics Award, an LA Drama Critics Award, and an Obie. She has consulted with writer/director Spike Lee on several of his films and was a producer of the hugely successful Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun.