Lights, camera…acting!

The Phil­adelphia Act­ing Stu­dio in North­ern Liber­ties acts as something of an 'act­ing gym' in or­der to help loc­al act­ors hone their craft.

Matt God­frey / For the Star At­tendees ask teach­er and act­or Bri­an A. Wilson (far left) about his ex­per­i­ence in the loc­al film and theat­er scene dur­ing a re­cent class at the Phil­adelphia Act­ing Stu­dio.

For the past three years, a few nights a week, act­ors have gathered at the Me­dia Bur­eau build­ing in North­ern Liber­ties to prac­tice.

The group met again on Feb. 6 at the third-floor stu­dio op­er­ated by Bern­ard Glin­cosky — a place bet­ter known as The Phil­adelphia Act­ing Stu­dio (PAS).

“In New York, people con­sider them­selves act­ors who have jobs on the side, but here in Philly, people con­sider them­selves work­ers who act on the side,” Glin­cosky was told by his former teach­er.

Too of­ten, get­ting act­ors to buckle down and work on prac­ti­cing their craft can be tricky, he said, for whatever reas­on — be it busy sched­ules or the lack of im­port­ance that act­ors may put on prac­tice.

But with PAS, Glin­cosky is try­ing to break away from those flaws.

“This is like a gym for act­ors,” he ex­plained. “You’re go­ing to come here and work on your craft. We aren’t try­ing to sell people six-or-eight-week act­ing classes, either. We’re try­ing to sign them up as a mem­ber be­cause this is an on­go­ing thing.”

Sim­il­ar stu­di­os have been op­er­at­ing in the arts and en­ter­tain­ment mec­cas of New York and Los Angeles for dec­ades, and Glin­cosky knows all about them.

He ex­plained that he did the nor­mal Hol­ly­wood thing, once even up­root­ing his whole ex­ist­ence to head to the West Coast in search of star­dom. Dur­ing that time, Glin­cosky stud­ied at a num­ber of act­ing stu­di­os.

After four years in Los Angeles, he moved back to Philly in 2002 and landed his first lead role in a fea­ture film. More roles fol­lowed, but he real­ized the need for a le­git­im­ate place for him­self and oth­ers to prac­tice.

To bring his plan to fruition, Glin­cosky reached out to a noted act­ing coach, George DiCenzo, from the Beverly Hills Play­house, who was teach­ing in New York at the time.

At first, DiCenzo wasn’t in­ter­ested.

“Feb­ru­ary ninth of 2009 was my last trip to New York to try to get George down here,” Glin­cosky ex­plained.

Glin­cosky had stud­ied with DiCenzo in the past, and he knew what a teach­er like DiCenzo could bring to his fledgling Philly stu­dio.

His last-ditch ef­fort worked. PAS was off and run­ning.

Sadly, DiCenzo died less than a year after start­ing at PAS, but his ef­fect on it is un­deni­able.

DiCenzo’s repu­ta­tion in the act­ing world drew act­or Ken­neth Mc­Gregor to that first class. Mc­Gregor’s cred­its in­clude the first X-Men movie and the 1988 Tom Cruise film Cock­tail, among oth­ers.

Mc­Gregor took over the teach­ing role at PAS, help­ing the group stage its first theat­er per­form­ance dur­ing last year’s Philly Fringe Fest­iv­al.

Since then, PAS has grown to en­com­pass four teach­ers — not in­clud­ing Glin­cosky — who provide in­struc­tion on a range of top­ics that en­com­pass film act­ing, im­prov, film and TV au­di­tion­ing, and a mas­ter act­ing class.

The class that met last Monday was the film-act­ing class taught by loc­al theat­er and film act­or Bri­an A. Wilson.

Wilson, who is fin­ish­ing a run in Char­lotte’s Web at the Ar­den Theatre and had a re­cur­ring role on the Show­time Chan­nel’s series The Wire, is a teach­er with a wealth of know­ledge to share.

“Part of it is that I am a work­ing act­or,” Wilson ex­plained. “I can give them the be­ne­fit of my know­ledge.”

Wilson’s class took on more of a work­shop feel as the stu­dents used time between scenes to ask ques­tions about everything from Wilson’s act­ing ap­proach to au­di­tion­ing and mem­or­iz­ing lines.

Wilson seemed to en­joy an­swer­ing the ques­tions. His calm, jovi­al de­mean­or seemed to meld well with what Glin­cosky has been try­ing to do at PAS.

“I tell people to study at dif­fer­ent places, and with the vis­ion that Bern­ard has here, they can really come here for a one-stop shop,” Wilson said.

“I like to leave the ego out of it even though the en­ter­tain­ment in­dustry is a big ego thing,” Glin­cosky ad­ded.

Thanks to the swift growth of PAS, buzz about the stu­dio has been grow­ing as well. In fact, last week’s class was something of a live au­di­tion, with a dir­ect­or sit­ting in to size up can­did­ates for an up­com­ing show.

The fol­low­ing day, a loc­al tele­vi­sion net­work was sched­uled to vis­it the space to see how PAS could help provide foot­age. Throughout the day, the phone kept ringing as callers in­quired about classes.

As for the fu­ture of PAS, Glin­cosky is dream­ing big for the long-term while try­ing to keep that mo­mentum build­ing day by day.

“We’re ask­ing all of the loc­al SAG (Screen Act­ors Guild) act­ors who they want to be taught by so we can see about get­ting those teach­ers here and keep­ing the act­ors here in­stead of go­ing to New York City,” Glin­cosky said.

He’s quite will­ing to be pa­tient about things.

“Ba­sic­ally I just want to build it one piece at a time,” he said with a grin. ••

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