16th Street Actors Studio has changed the landscape of actor training in Australia, by exposing Australian actors to the world’s leading industry professionals from around the globe. 16th Street has, for over a decade, been committed to supporting the artistic development and personal aspirations of actors at every level of their professional lives.
We believe in contributing to a more humane society through the arts and we value connection, creativity and community.
Our Patron is Deborra-Lee Furness.
The 16th Street Foundation was established in 2014 to promote excellence in the arts. The Foundation awarded scholarships to gifted actors, acting teachers and writers to train or develop work with mentors, internationally acclaimed artists and organisations.
Our benefactor was Heloise Pratt from The Pratt Foundation.
In 2019 The Foundation pivoted its objectives to encompass the overall artistic, psychological, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing of Australian dramatic artists. We have designed a series of programs including: skills in meditation practice, engaged dialogues with inspiring role models in the field of mental and spiritual
health and initiatives that inspire creativity and nurture the intellects of dramatic artists through the wealth of great literature and the art of rhetoric.
The Foundation aims to make these programs available to the wider community.
The 16th Street Foundation supports dramatic artists to be at their very best through their connection to a compassionate and collaborative community. We seek to nurture intergenerational engagement and cultivate wisdom and resilience in those we support. We do this so that dramatic artists, young and old, can flourish and continue to make a contribution to the world through the vital art of storytelling.
In creating a local ‘centre of excellence’ to draw international expertise in the entertainment industry to Australia and Melbourne, we will be building on what has already been established by Kim Krejus at 16th Street Actors studio and The 16th Street Foundation over the past 10 years.
Award winning actors Alan Rickman, Hugh Jackman, Ellen Burstyn, Eric Bana and Russell Brand are among the many guests so far.
THE ROLE OF THE DRAMATIC ARTIST:
Actors and other dramatic artists have the great privilege to express humanity in all its facets. Through their craft they have the ability to touch, move and inspire audiences to explore all the contradictions of the human experience from beauty, love, joy, compassion and inspiration to despair, sorrow, anger, fear, pain and everything in between. The sacred honour of guiding us to look inside ourselves, question how we are evolving as individuals, communities and a species and impacting the evolution of human consciousness through the stories they tell is a critically important role that actors play in society, but one that can also come with a heavy price.
While society glamorizes successful actors and others in the entertainment industry that have fame, fortune and a world platform to champion their favourite causes, there are just as many stories of actors that struggle with a myriad of issues. There are many artists in the industry turning to the wisdom of the east to find ways to help them cope with the demands of their work. A recent example is that of actor Zac Efron who turned to meditation to help decompress after struggling to separate himself from his role as serial killer Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile – “I did breathing and meditation. I think that’s the only way”. The list of names of successful actors that meditate such as Hugh Jackman, Clint Eastwood, Goldie Hawn, just to name a few, is long and extensive. Which begets the question: is there something that can be learnt from these ancient wisdom traditions that can help actors not just survive but thrive in the modern world and an ever-increasingly stressful profession?
As we look at the opportunity before us: that our most precious resource, the lifeblood of our industry – our people – are functioning at a deficit, we ask ourselves how can we change the current paradigm? How can we first and foremost bring wellbeing and wholeness to our acting fraternity? How can we create a mindset and lifestyle in which our actors are not suffering and in crisis, but are healthy, whole and vital? Where they are experiencing joy, creativity, deep fulfillment and are showing up as their best selves every single day – not just at work but in their lives as a whole.
We must remember that the privilege of story-telling, the ability to explore the depths of the human experience in all its joy and sorrow, the ability to inspire and shape the potential and possibilities for individuals, communities and the world to grow and evolve and share this journey with audiences needs to come from a place of truth, authenticity and creativity. Actors have the sacred honour of guiding audiences through their own journey of self-discovery and transformation and in order to authentically and deeply be this guide, actors must first care for themselves so they can safely bring all of themselves – their heads and their hearts – to each and every role.
We stand on the precipice of a new way of thinking, a new way of doing and most importantly a new way of being. By taking the deep experience and knowledge of eastern wisdom traditions and integrating this seamlessly with the best of western science, and modern acting techniques, 16th Street Actors Studio and the 16th Street Foundation is leading the charge of audacious, courageous innovators that are willing to shift the paradigm by creating a new model of genuine wellbeing for dramatic artists and for training actors that makes the old model obsolete. A new model where actors cultivate wellbeing that does not come from the external world, but internally in their minds and their hearts, so they have the lifelong ability to be healthy, whole and vital and bring the best of themselves to their craft and to their lives. When we view wellbeing as the balance and integration of body, mind, spirit and environment, when we can put the gift of balance and wholeness back in the hands of each individual, we create individuals that are empowered to step into the best version of themselves and create the opportunity for all those they touch to do the same.
So, we ask the question how can we create an experience where the foundation of all actors’ lives and training is predicated on genuine wellbeing that is cultivated internally in minds and hearts, through ethics and an integrated spiritual practice that is applied in life in thought, word and deed? Where actors gain a deeper and fuller sense of themselves, their life’s purpose and a caring relationship to the world. So that they can be balanced individuals who can modulate their emotional responses and grow in loving kindness towards themselves and others. So that they develop compassion for themselves and others and grow in wisdom about what causes them to suffer. Finally, to be able to apply all of this to their craft, dramatic artists can bring characters and stories to life that make audiences care and be less judgmental, and most importantly, they are able to maintain their wellbeing as they do so. And as they forge and sustain their careers through this training, dramatic artists, grow as whole and integrated human beings that have cultivated greater resilience and who can lead well-adjusted and meaningful lives.
FOUNDATION (10 weeks):
The first step, is taking dramatic artists on an inward journey of introspection and self-discovery through exploring the framework, and understanding the science and philosophy, of the eastern wisdom traditions of meditation and Ayurveda. Learning and practicing meditation as a tool to develop the ability to decompress, detach, find space, stillness, focus and a deep sense of centered connectedness will help actors cultivate the ability to be more present, creative and resilient not only in the delivery of their craft but also to the constant judgment, and uncertainty that is a fundamental aspect of the life of dramatic artists in the entertainment industry. Exploring the ancient eastern healing modality of Ayurveda will cultivate a deep understanding of their own individual mind-body constitution, their natural tendencies and abilities, how they respond to life experiences, including stress, anxiety and depression, when they are out of balance and the tools necessary to bring themselves, body, mind and spirit, back into balance.
The 10-week program has been specifically designed to create time and space for the practical application of tools and concepts and most importantly conversation and discussion on both theory and on each individual actor’s journey throughout the program. Running throughout the entire program are sessions on mindful movement to cultivate the ability for actors to become aware of, and comfortable in their bodies, beyond actor’s training, so they develop the ability to use conscious movement as a tool for healing and balance in life.
This innovative approach seamlessly integrates an outstanding internationally renowned actors training program with the best of western science and eastern wisdom. The 16th Street Actors Studio has already curated a powerful program that takes students on a journey to discover the type of actor they were meant to be and trains them in the tools and techniques that prepare their bodies and open their minds and hearts to express this to the fullest in their craft. Many graduates attest to that fact that their experience at 16th Street, has taken them on a journey of self-discovery to understand who they are as human beings and how they are choosing to show up in the world, beyond just the delivery of their craft.
And now, from this baseline that 16th Street Actors Studio has already established, the 16th Street Foundation is taking the audacious step to go even further and deeper, take things to the next level, and develop and deliver an integrated process of wellbeing, making it available to a cross section of dramatic artists in Melbourne. We wish to provide a framework to allow dramatic artists to approach life from a place of integration of body, mind and spirit. This new structured wellbeing program embeds the practice of self-reflection as the foundation of the actors’ and other dramatics artists training and craft, in order to cultivate the ability to become more self-aware and develop greater durability, flexibility, strength and resilience so they can better deal with both the pressures and uncertainties of their profession and of life. When acting, in order to truly come from a place of truth, authenticity and creativity, actors must first be able to do this in life and this process ensures that actors are set up for success not just in the delivery of their craft but in their lives as a whole. The actors will leave the program trained and nurtured to be responsible citizens of the world, healthy artists and well-adjusted human beings.
This pioneering integration creates a journey of transformation for each individual actor so that they not only develop their unique potential as actors but also as kind, caring, compassionate, healthy, vital, powerful and impactful human beings that are not only transforming themselves and all those they touch but through the pursuit of excellence in their craft and their lives, are transforming the world.
- Create a deep understanding of the importance of wellbeing for professional actors and other dramatic artists and the need to prioritize thriving wellbeing as an essential aspect of their lifestyle
- Provide them with the frameworks, tools and practices to discover their best selves and cultivate thriving wellbeing in all facets of their lives.
- Provide dramatic artists with the framework and tools to address anxiety, stress and depression.
- Facilitate transformation so that dramatic artists embody a balanced state of mind and healthy vital body, compassion, caring, empathy, kindness, wisdom, creativity and the ability to be integrated human beings who can lead well-adjusted and meaningful lives.
- To forge a center of excellence in embedding wellbeing as a foundational element of how dramatic artists are trained, engage in their craft and lives by integrating eastern wisdom traditions and the best of modern science.
The 10-week Wellbeing program will be offered by the 16th Street Foundation. It will include morning meditation, wellbeing curriculum and mindful movement. Other areas of study, will include ancient Vedic healing breathing practices as taught by the Art of Living Foundation.
All-inclusive wellbeing program including:
- Educational content and facilitation delivered by Chopra certified master educators
- Meditation delivered by Chopra certified educators
- Mindful movement classes (yoga and Qigong) delivered by experts in their respective modalities
- Seminars in Buddhist psychology
- Sudarshan Kriya breathing practice