Al Sapienza speaks to Mark Peikert from Backstage Magazine
NYC & Back to School Again
“You could keep studying for 100 years. You have to keep evolving, learning and growing. Right now, I am hungry and I will find a new home for acting. I just haven't found one yet."
But I will. And now I'm in New York more than L.A.. After all these years, it's a little traumatic. That was one of the saddest days of my life, when [acting teacher] Milton Katselas died. I think about Milton every day and what he taight me. It comes up every single day.
“In television – and believe me, I'm not knocking television, I'm grateful – but you're having a great time and it's all fabulous…and you play the same character. Staying in class, you work on your German accent. You work on your Cuban accent. You do Shakespeare and you hear a critique. You wind up talking about history. You wind up having a whole discussion about abortion, both sides of the issue. You don't just talk about your performance. You stretch yourself; you grow a little more. Right now, I shouldn't be talking. When you talk, you're not really learning anything. When you're around people, they will constructively criticize not only your choices as an actor and your technique as an actor but your choices as a human being in that character. Those choices may not be informed enough or intelligent enough. You may not grasp enough of that issue. In class you have incredible conversations about politics, corruption. Class is essential. If you want to be great! If you want to be a schmuck, do whatever you want to do. But studying will just make you a better human being and a more involved person.”
”I don't know about Robert Blake, though. He studied right up until he went to jail.”
“I know a lot of people hate them, but I liked being in a big class. When you have a big class, you have a real audience. If you're losing them, you can hear them shuffling. And I immediately learned if you were funny, that laughter was real. And you felt it. When you're in a little class you all became friends, and it becomes dysfunctionally positive!”
“In class I learned how to be a better person, a nicer person, and a more tolerant person. And I also learned that as an actor, your craft and your development are essential. Actors have two full time careers, making a living and developing. It's incredibly difficult to achieve. You have a full time job developing your craft and then another full time job on the business end. You learn that in that class. You are responsible for getting yourself work. And if you don't get work, it's not your agents responsibilty. It's not your manager's responsibility. It's your responibility. Understanding how the business works, how casting works, how film and tv production are totally different, and get those jobs.”
As told to Mark Peikert
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