“I didn’t know anything about acting until I attended Playhouse West. I had so much fun there, and learned the variables to solve any equation that might be given to me in a script.” ~ Ashley Judd
Playhouse West is a training ground for actors, writers and directors founded by Robert Carnegie and Jeff Goldblum in 1981. For over 30 years we have been highly regarded and recommended by industry professionals as the premiere acting school in the country. Many of our members go on to work at highest level within the entertainment business (see Students & Alumni at Work), and we are very proud of the fact that Playhouse West is always among the top programs in having the highest rate of working actors in film and television today.
Playhouse West is where legendary acting teacher Sanford Meisner chose to teach his private classes at after moving to Los Angeles in 1987. There truly are only a handful of people personally trained by Sanford Meisner to teach his technique. Robert Carnegie is part of this very select group, and all of the teachers at Playhouse West have learned this approach and have been specifically trained to teach this technique at Playhouse West. Students can be assured that at Playhouse West training is the real, authentic training, fully endorsed by Mr. Meisner.
Playhouse West has opened a branch of the school on the East coast, Playhouse West-Philadelphia, headed by long-time Artistic Director, Tony Savant. These classes began August, 2012.
THE PLAYHOUSE WEST PROGRAM
The Playhouse West program has been developed over years of working with the finest teachers of acting in this country’s history, including Sanford Meisner, who taught here for years. Students trained by Mr. Meisner include Steve McQueen, Robert Duvall, Jeff Goldblum, Diane Keaton, Gregory Peck, Joanne Woodward, Grace Kelly, Lee Remmick, Patricia Neal, Sandra Bullock, Jo Van Fleet, Lee Grant, Tony Randall, Sydney Pollack, and many others. Gregory Peck said of Meisner, “What he wanted from you was truthful acting…He was able to communicate, and the proof of that is the number of people who’ve gone on to become people who set standards of acting.”
Though our approach is primarily based on Mr. Meisner’s technique, Mr. Carnegie also worked with Stella Adler, Elia Kazan and Harold Clurman and has incorporated into the Playhouse West program the best of what all of these legendary teachers had to offer. But, while we have worked with them, we are not imitators. We have our own artistic vision and have developed an intense approach to the training of an actor which includes year-round attendance and ongoing classes. This process permits the actor to progress from exercises, to scenes, to productions, to films. At Playhouse West instruction is given on an individual basis and each student moves at their own true learning pace.
In addition to our on-going acting classes, we also offer classes in screenwriting, improv comedy, film production, film appreciation and analysis, and conduct commercial workshops in partnership with top commercial casting directors.
Our advanced students also get to perform in “Scene Nights”, giving them an opportunity to present their work to agents, managers and other people in the industry. As an adjunct to the acting training we produce plays in repertory, using exclusively our current students, which are directed and often written by Playhouse West staff members and students.
The Playhouse West theatrical production of “Welcome Home, Soldier“ won “Best Play of 1991″ and is currently the longest running play in L.A., now in its 19th year. Modeled upon the Group Theatre of the thirties, and owing much to its founders, Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler, Harold Clurman, and Elia Kazan, Playhouse West has been dedicated to keeping alive and promulgating a passion for realistic acting and the presentation of ensemble productions that address the current social moment.
This idea of an ensemble of actors who train and do plays together eventually grew to include film productions. In 1995, our long-time staff member, Jeff Goldblum, directed a film for Showtime, Little Surprises, which starred an ensemble of Playhouse West actors along with legendary actors Rod Steiger and Julie Harris. This short film went on to garner an Academy Award nomination for Best Motion Picture Short. In the next few years, more and more film projects were being written, produced, directed and acted almost exclusively by our members. This prompted, in 1997, the conception of the Annual Playhouse West Film Festival, featuring projects our current or former members played a role in generating, many which have gone on to gain notoriety and acclaim.
Playhouse West member Henry Barrial’s film, Some Body, which premiered at our 4th Annual Film Festival, broke ground by becoming the first ever digital feature chosen as a finalist at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001. In 2002, our Festival premiered the TNT original movie, James Dean, starring Playhouse West member James Franco, which went on to receive rave reviews and a Golden Globe Award for James’ performance. In 2003, a film written, directed and starring PW member Scott Caan, Dallas 362, garnered the Critic’s Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the CineVegas International Film Festival. In 2004, Marty Sader’s gripping feature, Most High, took home awards at three major film festivals, winning Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director and Screenplay at Chicago’s IndieFest, the “Golden Starfish Award” for Best Feature Film at The Hamptons International Film Festival, and Best Picture at Atlanta Film Festival.
In total, over 175 films which have premiered or screened at our Film Festival have gone on to win over 300 awards at other festivals around the world. In 2012, Our 16th Annual Playhouse West Film Festival, held for the 8th year at the beautiful El Portal Theatre in Noho, screened a record 52 films, all involving our members.
In addition to screening films, over the years we’ve been proud to present many special guest speakers at our Festival; professionals of great accomplishment in the film industry, including directors Sydney Pollack, John Landis, Garry Marshall, Mark Rydell, James Gray, Chuck Russell and Joe Carnahan, as well as actors James Caan, Jeff Goldblum, Ashley Judd, James Franco, Scott Caan and Giovanni Ribisi. Many other esteemed guests from throughout the industry have also spoken to our students at the school, including actors Rod Steiger, Julie Harris, Eli Wallach, Martin Landau, Ernest Borgnine and Mel Gibson. Periodically, we invite top agents, managers and casting directors to come as guest speakers or to conduct workshops and seminars on the business.
Playhouse West - Experience, Knowledge and Success you can count on! A leader in the industry for over 30 years! We also believe in not exploiting actors and have insisted on keeping the cost of our classes among the most reasonable and affordable in Los Angeles, and now Philadelphia.
Founding Director, Robert Carnegie
Founder, Jeff Goldblum
Artistic Director & Founding Director of Playhouse West-Philadelphia, Tony Savant