Professional actor taking residence with Batavia Players

Jan 19, 2019

BATAVIA — Incredible talent grows in Batavia, and with a little watering, it can bloom.

For the second year in a row, an artist in residency program will bring a highly trained professional actor from one of the best theaters in the world to Batavia, allowing him to interact and work with local actors on a personal basis. Working with a number of people at the Stratford Festival in Canada, Pat Burk, president of the Batavia Players, said they asked the people they knew up there to come down to New York to be part of the artist in residence program.

“Last year, the program went extremely well; we’ve had quite a few people participate — over 30,” Burk said. “In fact we’re hoping for a bit more this year.”

On Jan. 25 and Jan. 26, Josue Laboucane will be traveling from Fort St. John in northern British Columbia, Canada to come to Batavia to be an artist in residence where he will be hosting three classes that will focus on playing with Shakespeare speeches and sonnets as well as playing with theatrical masks.

“I like to focus on a sense of fun, a sense of play,” he said. “So I start with some theatrical games and exercises with an emphasis on learning to play as a group. All of my classes will be dependent on the participants’ skill levels.”

Laboucane said Shakespeare is a great way to explore the acting process with the thoughts in the play being large, with high stakes, and loads of imagery.

“If an actor can learn and practice some ways to unlock Shakespeare for themselves, then they can apply that to any theatrical endeavour,” he continue. “Mask work has many valuable functions. The mask work in the one class, will be, I believe, a great way for the participants to explore acting physically and letting their imagination drive the play rather than any insecurities hindering it.”

Laboucane got involved with theatre in high school, and after he started doing drama classes, he fell in love and did every play and musical that he could. After doing a year of post secondary studies, Laboucane moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, and started seriously studying acting and theatre there where he graduated from theatre school, Studio 58 at Langara College, in 2005. Since then, he’s been acting, teaching and creating theatre.

“I love the interplay between actors, and between actors and audience. It’s fun,” he said. “It’s different every night. And every night it’s an invitation to communicate and to play.”

The biggest misconception people have about acting, Laboucane said, is what they think acting actually is. Due to television and film being so concerned with naturalistic acting, it’s not widely known, perhaps even to some actors, the range that acting and theatre can have.

“If you want to get into the acting field, my advice would be to go to a reputable theatre school,” he said. “And before you do that, and after, learn about people. Learn about yourself. Your world and your place in it. A good actor never stops learning about themselves and their craft.”

The classes which are available are the following:

• Masks, Acting and the Stage

Friday, Jan. 25 from 3:45-6 p.m. — $35

This workshop is both entertaining and enlightening for the young actor. Designed for ages 7 to 16, with or without experience, the workshop develops the actors abilities while looking at a unique form of theater. All materials included. Limited Enrollment

• The Young Actor on Stage

Saturday, Jan. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon — $45

Working on stage is an ongoing learning experience. Young actors need to learn and improve their stage craft and usually they are only able to work on stage when they are involved in a particular show. This class will look at character development, preparation, classic theater and how it all relates to making the young actor an “experienced” actor. Designed for ages 7 to 16. All materials included. Limited Enrollment

• Expanding Your Stage Experience

Saturday, Jan. 26 from 1:30-5:30 p.m. — $55

No matter how much experience you have you can always learn more! This fun, in depth class will look at what each participant needs to know to expand and increase the acting experience. It is designed to allow for maximum participation and sharing of ideas and abilities. If you have participated in 10 shows or 110, you can always use more information, character development skills and stage craft education. Limited Enrollment

Class sizes are kept small, allowing Laboucane to spend more time with the participants.

“I think it’s an opportunity for people in our area,” Burk said, adding it’s good for people to get experience in a lot of different situations. “A lot of times young people only have the opportunity to work with theater when they are on stage.”

For more information, or to register, e-mail Burk at burk.patrick1956@gmail.com.

By Mallory Diefenbach, Batavia Daily News