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Marc Durso, Director/Coach, ActTrue

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Marc Durso

Marc Durso is a Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers Associate and a member of Actors' Equity Association. He has assisted Broadway directors Alan Arkin, Tony Stevens, Tony Award winner Ann Reining and Tony Award winner Charles Nelson Reilly.

Marc has also directed and associate directed New York and Los Angeles premieres starring such actors as Tony Award winners Uta Hagen and Fritz Weaver, as well as for the legendary Master Teacher, Sanford Meisner.

A writer, Marc has written for a CBS animated series, “Cadillacs & Dinosaurs,” with Hollywood head writer Steven de Souza. He also assisted Impresario James A. Doolittle in presenting the Baryshnikov, Kirov, Joffrey, American Ballet Theatre, and Radio City Rockettes dance companies at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, and  in developing budgets for multi-million dollar productions.

Marc has coached actors for film and television in Los Angeles, Miami, Denver, Chicago, Orlando, and Atlanta, and has taught Acting and Directing as a faculty guest lecturer at The Musical Theatre Project for the Ford Festival of One Act Plays in Heidelberg, Germany, where he received the Award for Excellence. He has  taught in 23 theaters in Belgium, Germany and Italy, as well as The Conservatory of Performing Arts/Maltz Jupiter Theater, The Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theater, The Craig Wich Studio of Performing Arts, and E.T.A.'s International Thespian Festival held at the University of Nebraska. Marc also  assisted the Cayman National Cultural Foundation on the country's first live televised theatrical production.

Marc coaches actors for film and television in the South Florida Entertainment Market where he was the Rehearsal Coach for the Miami Telenovela “Ocean Avenue.” He was also the on-location acting coach for the Sandals/Beaches Resorts campaigns in the Turks & Caicos Islands, and assisted in the NFL’s Media Training program, as well as with the U.S. competitors in the World Ballroom Theatrical Dance competition in Blackpool, England.

Marc teaches private workshops throughout the United States and Europe. His students are working SAG, AFTRA and AEA members with starring and co-starring roles on film and television, and with Broadway revivals and national commercials to their credit. His students have also gone on to study at The Atlantic Theater Company, the AADA, the Neighborhood Playhouse, the H. B. Studio, the Strasburg Institute, the Stella Adler Institute in New York, The Meisner Center, the Haber Studios in Los Angeles, and The Irish Theatre and Oxford Summer Programs.

Marc is a graduate of the Burt Reynolds Institute, where he studied with Tony Award winners and Broadway stars Julie Harris, Leonard Frye, Tom Troupe, Alan Arkin, Jerry Herman and Charles Nelson Reilly, and H.B. Studio in New York where he studied with Master Teacher/Broadway legend, Uta Hagen.

iStudioi interviewed Marc, who gave us his thoughts on the theatrical arts.

Marc Durso

iStudioi: What brought you into the world of acting and theater?

Marc: I come from the most dramatic environment as the foundation for my artistic expression: the wide open plains of Kansas. Crackling heat lightning racing across the sky, with the Wagnerian crash of thunder, the roar of tornadoes, and the burnt copper sunsets on waves of wheat. That sensual experience of Nature is the foundation of Art. And a very musical, theatrical family with painters and musicians as parents. 

My little sister invited me to play guitar in one of her high school plays so that was my first stage performance. But it was a very progressive Readers Theatre program at my junior college that truly connected me to, and revealed my performance creativity. Then off to the University and booking the leads in Shakespeare and musicals. My sister Asunta and I both were accepted into the prestigious professional training program: The Burt Reynolds Institute, training and performing with top Broadway and Hollywood actors. That year of training was a lifetime of professional stage experience.

iStudioi: What is it that motivates you in a script?

Marc: CONFLICT! Without it, there is no scene, for what motivates the character and what interests the audience other than the struggle to win, is to fight through obstacles. That is where heroes are born.  And that's why we go to the theater; to see our heroes fight the good fight.

iStudioi: When did you decide to become an acting coach?

Marc: When Master Teacher/Broadway Director/Tony Award winner Charles Nelson Reilly said to me, "You must teach; you must teach now!" When an artist of his experience and artistry sees your gift, well, you trust that.

iStudioi: What qualities do you seek in an actor in order that that individual to excel in their craft?

Marc: Deep self respect. For from that place comes the desire to share what one believes. When we know, deeply, that we have something to say, to share, it is then that we desire to share the richest, the highest, and the most vulnerable aspects of ourselves. 

I always ask at the beginning of my classes: "Who wants to be an actor?" and the hands shoot up in the air so fast you can feel the breeze. Then I ask, "Who wants to act?" and you can see the confused faces of most actors as hands rise haltingly, except for those few that understand that difference innately. Those who want to "be" an actor seek fame, fortune, accolades, and love.  Those who want to "act" seek the chance to create, and to effect change in the audience, if for but a fleeting moment. It's the latter group who seek out my teaching, for they want the most powerful tools of creative expression, which includes no tricks, gimmicks or attitudes.

iStudioi: What are your goals as an actor and coach?

Marc: To clarify for actors the difference between acting from "emotions" and acting from "images in action." There's the easy way, the surface way, the facile way of acting; angry, sad, happy, or sarcastic. It's the scourge of teen sitcoms and actually most of our pop media.  Bad television is filled with bad acting; that is, it is mannered and forced, with emotional imposition and a wash of predictability.

But acting from Images in action, the very premise of the great master Stanislavski's process, is the human process of behavior. For that's how we live, how we talk and relate to one another. It's how we connect with the world around us. And that's what I teach: behavior; not acting. 

We don't study other actors, we study people, all around us, at the post office, in traffic, at the mall, and in everyday places and life, wherever real people are facing their real moments of life.  That's what we study, for that is always based on the truth of human behavior, not the stylized tricks of slick acting that is only an expression of the popular culture of the time. 

We study life, and that is timeless.

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