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. ••