ROGUES of LA: The Studio-Based Web Series!

Rogues of LA is a web series created, shot, edited, scored, and of course, performed by students of both the Westlake Acting School and Cal Lutheran University where Markus is a professor in the theatre dept. Watch the previous eight episodes!

VC Star Readers Choice AwardWestlake Acting Studio was created in 2008 to bring professional acting training to Ventura County. Why Ventura County? We wanted to provide a a less-intimidating setting than Los Angeles – a safe place where you can explore your creative interests.

Our Mission is to Make You a Better Performer

Our mission at the Westlake Acting Studio is to help you become a better performer. Whether you want to pursue a career in acting or simply express yourself more confidently, we will give you the skills and confidence you need to succeed.

Westlake Acting Studio in 2008 was one of the few schools outside of the city to offer the Sanford Meisner program (developed at New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse) to hone your listening skills. Soon we added on-camera and beginner scenes training to jump-start your career in the industry. Then we created a Meisner Master Class to provide our students with a professionally-oriented, well-rounded acting program.

Our improv and stand-up performance classes are an adjunct to our acting training. Improvisation sharpens the instincts and builds self-trust. Stand-up comedy polishes presentation and increases one’s ability to tolerate risk in a performance setting. Each provides a different set of challenges but together they can help you overcome barriers and build your confidence.

Bringing Real-World Practice to Traditional Training

Our most hands-on effort is the studio-based web series, ‘Rogues of LA. Why a web series? Acting studios have a long history with associated stage companies. We’ve brought that online. With Rogues you feel the camaraderie of working with a theater company while gaining important behind-the-camera and crew experience. Not only is Rogues of LA an opportunity to step into a working film production; it may also be your ticket into Screen Actors Guild membership.

Westlake Acting Studio also hosts the very popular “Conversations with…” speaker series. Past guests include Melissa Gilbert, Alan Ruck, Stacy Keach and more. We’re now in our fifth year

One Less Bitter Actor: The Blog!

Like, sorta, a little bit..

When ever my students use “like” every other word I call it out and have them repeat their sentence with the word removed. I’m sure you’re not shocked to learn that many have no idea how unconscious their use of “like” is.  It’s only after struggling to form a sentence without “like” do they admit “gosh, this is hard…” Yup. It’s hard making your words matter, but that’s what artists do, and, we are supposed to do it better than everyone else. Being specific is what distances art from general dialog.  Not only are specifics the cornerstone of the Meisner technique but they are the cornerstone of your point of view. Trying to create something artistic that speaks to people cannot be achieved with general, vague meanings.

Telling a story or making an impact with your art will never be achieved by sorta writing a play, or, like acting in like a play. You have to be very clear about what you’re doing because your audience really wants to know what it is you are doing that’s different from what they can do by never leaving their house.

I call them qualifiers. Those phrases that keep you from criticism because you don’t take ownership of your point of view by saying things like; “I, like,  kind of want to do this play.” You protect yourself from not getting the role. Some of you might be saying “Yes, but that’s a bit touchy, you know what I meant.” Well,  , but the audience will get what I mean.” Yes, they don’t always succeed when they write something, but they sure tried to make their point clearly.

Don’t hide from your point of view and I mean you should practice this all day. Choose your words, don’t use cliches, and say what you want, all day. Practice owning your words and point of view all day. Distance yourself from the common level of communication that is based on filtering out a great deal of what is said because it’s, like, filler. It’s empty of meaning and connection. You as an artist have to hold yourself to this higher standard because, well, to be an artist you have to be braver, risking more, and do the harder thing. Owning your point of view and not sounding like everyone and anyone when you represent yourself isn’t harder, it’s a simple want to go from sorta to absolutely.