The BHP utilizes the technique developed by its founder, Milton Katselas, which not only addresses the question of "how to act," but also "how to live as an actor." The BHP Approach focuses on three areas: Acting, Attitude & Administration. See the section on "Our Approach" for more information.
The heart of the BHP program in Los Angeles is its 2x-a-week scene study program at all levels. Since most acting classes in Los Angeles are once-a-week, it begs the question: Why be in class twice a week? Answer: Because there's work to be done, an artistic life to be created, a career to launch!
Milton would often say that when he was at Carnegie, they had their mitts on his life for 60 hours a week of classes, workshops, rehearsals, etc, and that was for four years. When he created the BHP, he wanted to embrace the spirit of the commitment one finds in such undergraduate/graduate programs. Even at twice a week, that's 8 hours of class weekly plus rehearsal outside class. When you think that classical musicians may routinely practice 8 hours a DAY for YEARS to perfect their craft, you can see how the actor could use a touch of that. And actors can't practice without other actors, without a group, without scenes. And so we meet twice a week in the spirit of passion, intensity, fervor, and a wild-eyed pursuit of both craft and career.
Don't buy into the idea that you "don't have time" for intensive study. Most "no time" justifications have behind them the generalized problem of too much dispersal, too little discipline, too little get-up-and-go towards the pursuit of acting. The BHP believes that professional actors are ones who are committed to study, even after they become "successful," and should be breaking a sweat in class at least twice a week in addition to their other artistic / administrative efforts.
All this being said, at the Advanced Level of study, students have the option to attend 1-to-3 classes each week.
All the current acting teachers at the BHP were personally trained by Milton directly during his life, and all boast between 20-30 years' association with the BHP and its specific kind of training. The BHP does not hire teachers from outside our ecosystem - all are developed from within BHP over at least a decade. All the teachers are professional actors, writers and/or directors, and many of them are highly trained in other artistic areas as well. (See separate page on Teaching Staff.)
The tone of classes at BHP is professional and enthusiastic – we want you to feel challenged, but safe. Students are expected to be on time, awake, alert, ready to learn, and are to remain so for the entire class. With regard to attendance and all issues related to attitude or deportment, the BHP has what it nicknames the "Robert Redford" concept: Whatever you would do to make it to the set to shoot your scene with Robert Redford, do that for class. For Redford, you'd be on time, you'd pretend your headcold didn't exist, that fight with your significant other would recede into distant memory, your family issues would be blocked out, and you probably wouldn't be holding your cell phone and updating social media while you spoke with him. Ditto for class.
Yes. Beginning in 2018, the application process at BHP includes a class audit of our Advanced level classes on either Tuesday or Wednesday evenings.
This varies by level. Keep in mind that our program is a 2x a week program, usually averaging 8-10 scenes being performed weekly in each class, and so to maintain the workload, more students need to be in the class to do those scenes. As well, at the Intermediate and Advanced level, we have more actors who work professionally on projects outside class, and so the numbers are higher there to compensate for actors being away on work.
At the Orientation Level, it can be between 20-30 students. Intermediate can vary between 25-40. The Advanced classes have more than that, since those classes have more actors who work professionally, and so we accept more students to ensure there are enough to maintain the workload.
The best training occurs on the best material. Boxers don't spar with partners who are weaklings – they train with partners who challenge them. Musicians don't train on easy music – they train on the best. Actors should seek out writing that is interested in humanity, rather than in cleverness or glib emotion. Many actors think that because much of the writing for their contemporary auditions is subpar, they should train on subpar material, as if there is a specific, learnable way to pull off subpar material that will get you more jobs on TV. Don't think this way.
Many actors are simply not knowledgeable about scripts from the theatre and film history available to them. This is simply a shame, and indicative of the deterioration in education and the work ethic of actors. Imagine the aspiring pianist who didn't know the work of Chopin, the young writer who'd never read Tolstoy! And yet many young actors do not know their own history - the actors, directors and writers who have shaped everything we do today. The history of theatre and cinema is filled with challenging writing that is interested in human beings and real communication. This is what you should be interested in for your career. So seek this material out, educate yourself while doing so, and turn down class requests to work on Elf and Wedding Crashers.
Your scenes will come at you from various directions. Certainly the teacher will be assigning work, sometimes to seek out a certain kind of character, sometimes a very specific scene and/or scene partner to work with. In addition, your classmates will approach you with scenes they would like you to do. And of course, you will have your own ideas as to scenes you would like to work on. All these factors come into play in determining what you work on.
This can vary. If the first time you perform, the work is excellent, you may not have to repeat the scene at all. Or perhaps the choice of scene will be something not so great, and the teacher will ask to move on to other material. On the other hand, if you are challenged by the scene, and the teacher feels there is benefit to continued work on it, you may come back to repeat it once or more than one time. There is no pre-set limit one way or the other. You might go up in consecutive weeks with the same scene, or drop it for a while and return later, you may return with a different scene from the same script – anything goes.
The expectations are high. We want you to bring in scene work that has been thought about, researched, rehearsed, sweated over – work that has possessed you. Getting together at Starbucks to socialize and read the early scenes from When Harry Met Sally won't cut it. Whatever you would do for $100,000 for Francis Ford Coppola, do it for your scenes. Nail the costume. Nail the character. Research. Meet real people, talk with them. Know the entire script, and know the other scripts by that author. We want finished work, "finished" meaning that you've explored it to the limit of your abilities. When actors bring in glib work that has not been rehearsed, it obviously limits the effectiveness of your training – you don't want the teachers telling you what you already know.
Classes last up to 4 hours, but students are expected to be on time for the beginning of class and stay until the end.
The BHP does not pro-rate tuition for absences of less than four weeks' duration. If you miss a night for any reason, we don't credit you for that. If for any reason you are absent from class for longer than four weeks, you may request a Leave Of Absence (LOA), during which you will not be charged. Those who have prepaid tuition will not have any charge against their account during an LOA.
Yes. Once enrolled, you may take a class we offer in several sessions during the year, currently on Thursday mornings, that concentrates solely on the audition process. The class is offered in 4-6 week blocks. Actors get sides a day or two prior to the class, and then come in and do the audition at class as they would for a real job, receiving a critique on their preparation, their delivery, and their overall demeanor and confidence with this process. Occasionally we will do longer workshops that lead toward the introduction of camera work at the end, or with a visit from a Los Angeles casting professional.
The subject of improvisation is covered as part of the technique of the BHP. But the difference is that we use improvisation as a tool, as a method for discovering honestly a moment that may not be covered by the writer, or that you may be having difficulty with, or something that is outside the time frame of the script – for instance to use improvisation to explore the early, romantic part of a relationship in a script about a breakup.
Most "improv training" in Los Angeles is comedy based, and consists of over-inflated emotions, the ability to "say yes" to any idea thrown at you, speed of response (both verbal and emotional), with an overall urge to be funny. Make them laugh. The word "improv" is often inextricably linked to "comedy" – I belong to an improv comedy troupe. There is clearly no such thing as an improv drama group. A lot of money is made in LA by trying to hit actors with the need to "study improv" so they can "do better with sitcom auditions," or what have you. The marketing here has been brilliant, but it's frankly empty. The BHP tries hard to break this linkage. Improvisation can be fantastic, but too often it is the means by which people think they will land a gig on Saturday Night Live, rather than an honest approach to good acting.
The BHP makes no such distinction. Acting is acting. The story you are telling, the technique you personally use to be honest and authentic in your acting – this is the same on stage and on film. Many of our greatest film actors have come from the stage. Yes, there is a difference between playing to 1,000 people in a theatre and having the lens and a boom microphone ten inches from your head, but the expertise in this difference comes from professional experience. Singers learn to sing. They don't learn different approaches for different performance spaces. Pianists learn to play. They don't spend time in their training to learn the difference between big halls versus small recording studios. Actors should learn to act. The rest will take care of itself through experience.
No. The BHP operates under what we call a "One-Teacher Concept." Students currently enrolled at the BHP are not permitted to study in other schools or acting classes – it tends to waste everyone's time, as the student may be receiving contradictory information from different classes.
The BHP teaches on Orientation, Intermediate, and Advanced levels. The Orientation class is for students who are just starting out, as well as those who have college-level training and even some theatre outside college. Intermediate is for those who come to us with some time in NYC or Los Angeles, more credits in both theatre and Film/TV, and decent training – or people who have fairly major achievements in other artistic areas. Advanced students are those for whom union membership is taken care of, agents/managers in place, and more significant work in theater and Film/TV.
One "moves up" from Orientation to Intermediate and from Intermediate to Advanced after a period of time at each level. This period can vary, but 6-12 months would be a good average. The timing of the moveup is by agreement of the student and the teacher, based on how the student has progressed in the areas of Acting, Attitude and Administration.
Indefinite. See the section on "Why Study?" We would not accept any applicants who are only interested in a fixed time period of less than six months, and our goal is that you will be finished looking for acting classes.
No. There are no cameras as part of the training at BHP. We do record all the critiques on digital audio, and upload those recordings to a secure website so that students can listen and/or download their critiques on an ongoing basis, or the critiques of other scenes in your specific class.
No. The BHP does not produce showcases for its students. However, motivated groups of students may produce their own showcase in our theatres, with scenes that have been approved by the teacher. Many actors get in mind the idea to do a showcase, and then look for good "showcase scenes" – often spending hundreds of dollars to produce and promote work that is not to the highest standard. At the BHP, the emphasis is first and foremost on quality – when you do a scene that is of the highest caliber, then it is certainly possible to use our theatres to show it off when they are not in use for class.
By personal interview / class audit on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. It begins with a roughly 45-minute session in which a trained BHP acting school staff member will give you all the information about our approach and the commitment, etc. You will get a chance to ask any questions you have, and the issue of proper placement, tuition, and class choice is covered as well. Following this meeting, applicants will audit our Advanced level class from 7:30-11pm. If you're interested in enrolling and are approved, that process can happen the same night or by followup after the audit.