TEACHING AND COACHING

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PHILOSOPHY

I think young performers bring a natural raw energy to the stage that is often polished away.  I am interested in maintaining kids’ unique vibrancy and natural playfulness while helping them find simplicity and grounding in their work.  As a director I revel in finding real and honest connection between actors onstage—to me it is thrilling to experience an actual conversation between two actors.  I love when actors are brave enough to bring their whole selves to a character—the best and worst aspects of themselves; the parts they love and the parts they hate.

I encourage actors to be completely honest about whom they are and remind them that each character they play is just as human as they are.  I find it fascinating exploring how to tell a story as honestly as possible, and working with the actors to discover what story we will share.  I often find that a cast can teach me more about a play than I could ever figure out on my own. 

Through an exploration of character motivations using my own version of Practical Aesthetics, I try to provide opportunities for the actors to do the text and story justice.  I often see plays where what the actors are saying and what they are doing do not match—where they say how angry they are, yet remain unfazed; where the director has not provided the circumstances for the actors to create the stakes necessary to tell the story of the play.  Additionally, I ask actors to find the love and nobleness in each character, whether the actor agrees with the character’s views or not. 

To me, theater is a conversation between the actors and the audience—it is a give and take.  I am interested in how we can keep the audience on the edge of their seats, engaged in a conversation that is dangerous, exciting, and being created with them in that moment. 

I believe in treating kids as professionals.  They are capable of so much more than we ever give them credit for, and I will always strive to push them out of their comfort zones—beyond what they think is possible in themselves and in theater.  

In recent summers at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts, I have taught a number of improvisation classes, including directing the Improv Troupe with our oldest campers.  In Improv Troupe, we focused on bringing the principals of long form scene work to short form improv games. Using the philosophies of the UCB Improv Theater, Reckless Theatre, and the PIT, along with the work of Chicago-based improvisers TJ & Dave, I placed a heavy emphasis on creating grounded, “real” scenes that allowed the actors to patiently and organically explore the moment in order to find the “game” of the scene.  This year we also talked extensively about creating characters with strong points of view that allow actors to filter the gifts being thrown at them by their scene partners.  Another popular class this year was Plays of the Week, in which we read works by a large variety of playwrights.  Some of our works this year included The Wolves by Sarah DaeLappe and Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker.  In the past I have taught a class entitled Truth in Comedy, based on the book of the same name by Del Close, that focused on bringing the spontaneity and play of improvisation into grounded comedic scene work.  Finally, I taught a webisodes workshop in which campers and I worked collaboratively to write, act in, and edit our own YouTube videos starring a large cast of sock puppets, in addition to teaching classes in acting technique, audition technique, musical parody, and monologues.

PRIVATE COACHING

Private coaching is an excellent way to improve your acting skills or prepare for a big audition.  Working together, we can help develop and expand your repetoire, finding you the perfect monologues, songs, and sides.  If you need to prepare for a specific audition, we can work so you feel prepared and comfortable to have fun and do your thing in the room.  I have experience teaching and directing hundreds of students, and we will work to make you more confident in your natural abilities, to improve your technical skills, and to allow you to kick ass and have fun!

I have specific experience preparing students for their college auditions.  My coaching students have received acceptances to NYU Tisch, Syracuse University, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Oklahoma City University, Elon University, Pace University, Marymount Manhattan College, University of Miami (with full scholarship), Emerson College, Rider University, Point Park University, Montclair State University, The Hartt School, University of the Arts, and Muhlenberg College, among others, as well as callbacks to Julliard and NYU's Graduate Acting programs. 

I always work out of professional studio space in Manhattan.  This helps ensure a productive and safe working environment.

If you have any questions about private coaching, including scheduling and rates (studio space is always included in the price), or if you would like to set up a session, please visit the Contact Me page.

TESTIMONIALS

"I do not know anyone who better speaks the language of actors.  Aaron is a brilliant director, improv coach, audition coach, and theatre teacher.  A highly skilled actor/improvisor himself, Aaron has a truly great artistic vision.  He has a simply expansive knowledge of the current landscape of American theatre-- far greater than any other audition coach I have ever encountered.  He is able to seemingly magically pull out a performance from an actor who never thought that such a level of maturity and skill was possible.  I could not recommend Aaron more."

-Jordan B., Student at NYU Tisch

“Aaron is the biggest reason I am the actor and person I am today.  He presents the young actor with the demanding and mature task of becoming familiar with and sharing the purest form of themselves with an audience, and he supports this challenge from a place of immense love and care.  He treasures each individual and celebrates their unique traits, tailoring his approaching with an intense attention for and understanding of each actor.  In one summer, he completely transformed my approach to the stage, and I took home lessons I will carry throughout the rest of my educational and professional career.  When it came time to prepare for college auditions, there was no doubt Aaron was the guy.  We meticulously worked through monologues to find those which best represented me as an actor.  Once we had the perfect material, he pushed me past my limits in the greatest way.  I passed all of my prescreens, and I certainly would not have without Aaron's coaching.  His deep understanding of drama, paired with high professionalism and an incredible teaching ability, makes for a once-in-a-lifetime educational experience.  I cannot recommend him enough to any aspiring actor."

-Tyler F., Student at Northwestern University

"For any and all acting coachings, Aaron is simply the best. I have worked with Aaron in both private monologue coachings and in group improv acting classes, and he has treated every class with enthusiasm, joy, and exceptional intelligence. As a teacher, Aaron is extremely knowledgable and well-trained when it comes to acting technique, but most importantly, he encourages exploration of a piece, and will be with you every step of the way as things get tough. Aaron is quick to pinpoint trouble spots, but will present you with viable solutions on how to fix them. He is encouraging and inspiring, the kind of teacher who makes you feel special and excited to succeed. And personally, Aaron is a fun, funny, goofy, and charming guy who you will love spending time with. I couldn't recommend him highly enough!"

-Brennan S., Student at NYU Tisch

"When I was feeling stuck while working on college audition monologues, I knew there was only one person to turn to: Aaron F. Brateman. Aaron has a way of taking dramatic text that is so familiar to you and making it feel completely fresh and new. He pushed me to think harder, he questioned my every intention, and in the process, I discovered magic in my own work. He has a way of challenging you but also making you feel completely safe to try new things and experiment with different character choices. He uses different approaches for each of his students, because he realizes our differences. I truly believe that Aaron's coaching is the reason I was accepted into the colleges that I was. Aaron has my highest recommendation."

-Patricia I., Student at Oklahoma City University

"When a last minute Broadway audition came up, I knew Aaron would be the perfect person to call.  I got to final callbacks for the Broadway play.  I then had a movie audition come up, and decided to work with him again.  I ended up getting down to final callbacks for two different roles in the same film.  Shortly after, I booked a series regular on a Netflix show.  Aaron has the ability to break down your walls like no other.  He was able to identify my bad habits, and break them in 30 minutes.  Whenever I work with Aaron, I know I'm prepared to the best of my abilities.  I would recommend him as an acting coach to everyone."

-Kirrilee B., Actress in National Tours of Mary Poppins and Billy Elliot

"Ever since I started working with Aaron, I’ve discovered more and more about myself as an actress and improviser. I’ve taken group improv classes from Aaron for over a year now and more recently I have worked with him on monologues for college auditions. I honestly think he has pushed my boundaries to a point where I have grown to accomplish things far out of my comfort zone. My favorite part about working with Aaron is the constructive criticism he gives. He is incredibly insightful and honest, yet I feel as if he is always on my side. Not only is he able to pull a text apart and analyze the unspoken meanings behind every word, but he is able to get me—the student—to accomplish that as well. He always re-assures me that I am never “wrong” when it comes to my ideas. He encourages me to commit to whatever choices I see fit. I’ve always felt working with Aaron was a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable space. In the past, that was hard for me to truly find with other coaches. Whenever I work with him, the time flies by as if we are just two friends in a studio together. However, he has a phenomenal sense of professionalism. He has been extremely hands-on and dedicated to helping me grow through different exercises and techniques. If my making a break through with a monologue required for Aaron to jump around a room screaming like a crazy person, he would do it. He’s the type of coach to get 100% mentally and physically involved in a student’s progress. Aaron has helped me become so much more confident about myself as an overall performer. I highly recommend working with and spending time with him. He is amazingly down to earth, hilarious, talented, and well trained, and I cannot even imagine where I would be in my college audition process without him."

-Nicole D., Student at University of Miami

“When I told a friend of mine that I was looking for a coach to help me with my college auditions, he referred me to Aaron. Not only did Aaron help me get into a number of excellent acting and musical theatre programs, but he also got me to look at acting in a whole new way. He pushed me to go far beyond what was expected of me, and I could not be more grateful for it. The college process can be an extremely stressful time, but Aaron made it into a learning experience which I will forever be better off for having. He never allows me to settle for acceptable work, but rather he would push me until it was great. With the huge number of acting coaches in New York City, I recommend Aaron for anyone who is not only looking for a coach, but for a friend and teacher who will bring the very best out of you.”

-Julian L., Student at Pace University

"I've worked with Aaron for a few years now.  We did improv together at camp and then I eventually did his improv class in the city.  I used to get super frustrated and insecure when it came to doing improv, but Aaron brought out the best in me and made me know that I can do it.  When it came time for college auditions I knew I wanted to work with Aaron on monologues because I knew I needed to work with someone who I could be comfortable and vulnerable with.  Aaron understood me and pushed me to where he saw I was able to go while working on monologues.  he also taught me a new way to look at pieces and a completely new perspective on acting in general.  I am a better and smarter actor today because of him.  He just gets it and understands you as a person, and I'm so grateful to have someone so wonderful in my life."

-Jillian C., Student at Emerson College

"I worked with Aaron for my college process as my monologue coach. I knew him because he previously had directed me both in a show and in an improv group and after my experience with him as a director, I knew I wanted to work with him for college auditions. He helped me find excellent material for my auditions, worked closely and in-depth with me, and helped me gain the confidence to go out and succeed in my auditions. In my time with him, I learned more about acting than I had in all my previous experience in theatre, and his understanding and passion truly lead me to find my own voice as an actor. He’s insightful, honest, and just a great spirit, who I have recommended to another one of my acting friends who also enjoyed working with Aaron."

-John-Luke L., Student at Elon University

"Aaron is a fantastic teacher. I worked with him in the improv troupe at French Woods and in group improv classes in NYC. He also directed me in an innovative, gender-bent version of "Inherit the Wind" at French Woods. Aaron pushes his students to be their best. He expects a lot from his students because he truly believes in each and every one of them. Working with Aaron made me a better actress and improviser. Plus, he's a great guy and always makes classes or rehearsals feel fun!"

-Rachel W., Student at Oklahoma City University

"I do not speak lightly when I say that no one could ask for a teacher more knowledgeable, friendly, and dedicated to their students than Aaron F. Brateman. We met at a summer camp, French Woods, two years ago. He directed me in a production of Inherit the Wind, while simultaneously teaching me and several other kids in an Improvisation Troupe. Through both, he showed discipline and above all else a commitment to learning, making sure that his cast and troupe were growing from their experiences.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to work with him once more, this time in a musical, 9 to 5, while again being taught by him in Improv Troupe. As I had grown as an actor in the past year, I expected to have a different dynamic with him as my director. Not only did he recognize my growth and adjusted his teaching style accordingly, he pushed me further and further, never letting me settle until I reached my full potential. The same occurred with Improv Troupe; because so many of the members this year were the same as last year, he was able to build upon his teachings, and give us more complex exercises to test our skills and help us grow as improvisers.


Of course, I consider Aaron more than just a teacher: I consider him a friend as well. He is always more than willing to set aside personal time to talk and joke around once the work has been completed. Some of my fondest memories of Aaron are chatting after rehearsal, asking him for advice, or just having a laugh. This past summer I even got to coach several monologues with him privately, and I personally believe that I approach some pieces completely differently now because of his training. Aaron stops at nothing to foster growth in his students, while still fostering friendships with them. If I were to describe him in one word, it would be this: non-stop. He has an unstoppable drive that makes him one of the best acting, improv, and comedy teachers I've ever had. I can give no higher recommendation."

-Jacob H., Student at Fordham University