Utah Conservatory launches acting program | ParkRecord.com

Utah Conservatory launches acting program

After 12 years of offering music lessons, Utah Conservatory is teaming up with Parkite Jane Talley to launch an acting program that will include acting camps this summer and courses in the fall.

Students will study scenes, monologues, auditions, classics and acting for film. Curriculum planning and weekly courses will be assisted by Executive Director Dr. Fredric Cook and Managing Director Debra Cook. The faculty will also offer private acting lessons when students are preparing for roles, auditions, and special projects.

Jane Talley came to Park City after more than 30 years of school and community theatre work in Las Vegas. Most recently, she served as the Youth Theatre Director for the Egyptian Theatre Company, where she also directed shows including "You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown," "Fame," "Once on This Island" and "High School Musical." Talley was recently honored by the Egyptian theatre in their opening of "Annie."

"We are very fortunate to have Jane Talley join the Utah Conservatory, and view her as the linchpin in creating this formal acting program," says Debra Cook. "Her experience with youth, knowing how to make the work fun, her patient, kind manner, all add to her vast knowledge and experience in teaching the craft of acting. The kids really love and respect her. Her attention to preparation and detail is top-notch."

Debra and Dr. Cook have a history of teaching acting, as well. Debra served as an assistant adjunct professor for the Actor Training Program at the University of Utah’s Department of Theatre for over 10 years, and has several current and former students who are working professionals.

Fredric Cook has a Ph.D. in educational studies. He is a retiree and member of the Screen Actor’s Guild and Actor’s Equity and he ran his own acting school, The Los Angeles Academy of Dramatic Arts, for several years. He also served on the Theatre/Film faculties of Hunter College in New York City and has more than 40 years professional experience in directing, film, TV, commercials, stagecraft, theatre and musical theatre.

"Although Debra and I teach acting, it wasn’t until the synergy of Jane Talley’s work that we felt the time was right to begin a ‘program’ here at Utah Conservatory," he says. "Up to this point, we offered a successful course in performance for singers who act. In visiting with Jane, we saw that she is like-minded in the heuristic principles that we have espoused in our applied teaching philosophy, which helps the student to learn to focus their attention and develop a process towards a professional-level performance with whatever roles they choose."

"The end point of our program," Debra explains, "is to prepare students with the building blocks of an acting technique that will prepare them for productions, for casting at local venues; and, for those who desire, opportunities to be considered for professional work." Cook notes that the three acting teachers have over 90 years of teaching experience between them.

Utah Conservatory has a teaching philosophy that includes a nurturing and positive environment. It stems from the premise that talented students are intuitive learners who are capable of assessing their own work. The aim is to teach without criticism and assisting the artist in how to make changes that will increase their abilities.

"We want our students to be joyful, confident, sensitive, and able to look at the intention and viewpoint of others .to be exemplars of the very humanity that the arts represent in our society," Dr. Cook says. "If we can help the student to non-judgmentally look into the expression of someone else’s viewpoint, be that of a character in a play, a composer, or a lyricist .then we are increasing their abilities as artists and as people."

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