I recently graduated from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television. I know what I want to say but not how I want to begin. So I’ll just begin.
Sean’s class hurts. In all the right ways. Walking into my first day, I met glorious, bubbly souls in the lobby, who warmly welcomed me into their space even before class had begun, in what was to be a foreshadowing of the rest of our time together. After a few moments of pleasantries, a fellow actor shepherded us all into the space to begin with a warm up before Sean’s arrival. As is standard in the book of excellent warm-ups for actors, I took to the floor, along with the rest of my peers, and addressed the instantaneous now. I hummed and listened to others’ haws. I bellowed in a room of quiet sighs. And then, Sean entered the room. And with him, the spirit of an army. Sean’s entire platform is based upon the discovery of truth and acknowledgement of the present moment. As he so eloquently puts it himself, he is in the business of turning individuals into “professional humans.” After all, if we purport to hold the title of artist, if we arrogantly demand dollars from an audience for the specific privilege of viewing us, the spectacle, we must give them and the universe everything we have, all of ourselves, and not waste energy in the holding back. One by one, I felt the core and soul of every other human in the room mesh with each other and to the space as we continued the group warm-up. Perhaps it was a fluke, or a series of perfect incidences, that led to me feeling connected to each and every “other” in the group, faster than I ever have in any other classroom to date. Something tells me this is the norm for Sean’s class. From this shared space, this common ground, it felt almost logical for the session to proceed as it did, with brazenly honest demonstrations of self from everyone in the room, masterfully guided by a few words here and there from our teacher. Sometimes, Sean even demonstrated bits of a monologue or his capacity to tap into extremely private bits of himself at a moment’s notice. What is most incredible is that Sean seems to be leading us all on the fly. Sure, he is aided by notes he has taken previously on his students to highlight their blocks or specific learning style, but he is an incredible example of his own practice: in order to best assist those on stage, Sean simply takes them in. He confronts the now. Sean is highly attuned to his own instrument, and is therefore incredibly perceptive of even the slightest pocket of tension, or the most minute hesitation of another either in body or in breath. By the end of my first day, I already had a litany of new discoveries and sensations, even after serving a decade and some change in this wild, wonderful art. What I am not so sure of, is if for Sean himself, any of this was new. Or if he is so in tune with the inner-workings of the psyche that with 99% accuracy he could have predicted the way each individual would behave, and from there how the entire six-hour long session would have run. Funny how that six hours felt like a lifetime and like the duration of a single wave crashing all at once.
I will be honest— this class is not for either the faint of heart or for one who is not willing to be entirely vulnerable on the stage. To be clear, there is a difference between unwilling and terrified. For example, I am terrified. I am terrified of honesty, and acceptance, and the hurting and the darkness that I know I will have to submerge myself into over the course of my time with Sean. But I am willing. Because the darkness isn’t going to shine a light on itself. Because I want to be better. And because I want to grow. Because I want to fully commune with fellow artists and humans, if even for a weekly session a few hours at a time. Part of the appeal of Sean’s class is the extremely apparent focus on and passion for the human spirit, in all of its many mutations and manifestations. So, if you are a human, and you want to know more about what it is to be human, Sean’s class might be right for you. Now.