Gilmore Studio brings acting lessons to Walla Walla – Whitman Wire

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If you search for Gilmore Studio on Google Maps you will be taken to a supermarket parking lot. Although confusing at first, if you go through an inconspicuous side door and down a long, oddly lit hallway, you’ll eventually find the studio: a small room filled with chairs and lit from above like a stage. It’s Gregg Gilmore’s acting studio, recently opened to Walla Walla after nearly a decade in Seattle.

Gregg Gilmore, who grew up in Walla Walla, originally wanted to go to Whitman to study acting. John R. “Jack” Freimann, then a professor at Whitman – although current students recognize him as the name behind the Freimann studio, as well as the man behind Harper Joy’s huge collection of posters – encouraged Gilmore to study. in New York City instead, acknowledging that Gilmore was more interested in the craft than academics.

In New York City, Gilmore studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater. Although he came forward with celebrity ideas, his perspective quickly changed.

“I showed up at school and just wanted to be famous; [I was] just kind of a young ding-dong kid, and then they started: this was about the truth, your real feelings, ”Gilmore said.

With that, something clicked for Gilmore.

“I was just blown away by it all… it was so liberating – also super frustrating until I started to understand, because we are all conditioned to hold on. [in] what we really feel …[but] none of it was what they wanted, ”said Gilmore. “It was nervous and intense, and also very intimate and beautiful too – people were crying and holding each other, and not just over-playing but really feeling these things, allowing themselves to do it.”

After years of acting and directing, Gilmore opened an acting studio in Seattle in 2012. After about eight years there, his studio was popular enough that he constantly had to turn people down. With the onset of the pandemic and the complete shutdown of his studio, Gilmore decided to return to his hometown to be closer to his family. Since July, his workshop has reopened, this time in Walla Walla, with classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings.

In his workshop, Gilmore mainly teaches the Meisner technique: in the words of Sanford Meisner, “to live honestly in imaginary circumstances”. This technique was developed by Meisner, with whom Gilmore studied at the Playhouse, and it encourages actors to react in the moment and behave authentically.

“It can be intense for a new person,” said Gilmore. “The job can be so hard – it’s all about you, there’s no character, it’s just two people focusing on each other and getting honest.”

Ben Buehler, an actor who took classes with Gilmore in Seattle, described the technique similarly.

“It just comes down to letting yourself feel, letting yourself be yourself, because if you’re not, no one will believe you,” Buehler said.

Buehler, who has worked on numerous films, shorts, commercials, and TV shows (most recently completed filming in Portland) said he had taken classes with Glimore for about seven or eight years and was proud to be an actor trained by Meisner.

“It’s not therapy, but it really opened me up to being able to accept what’s going on in my life, to be able to accept who I am as a person and not try to imitate my life as someone else. ‘other,’ Buehler said. “For me, it kind of came to me, like, ‘oh, I just need to be myself and find my real, authentic self.'”

Even though it’s been years since he’s been in Gilmore’s class, Buehler said he still occasionally calls Gilmore on FaceTime before a shoot to help him achieve the mental state he needs.

Not all Gilmore students are working adult actors. Ellie Strickler, a junior at Walla Walla High School and vice-president of her school’s drama club, said her teacher emailed over the summer about Gilmore’s new acting studio in Walla Walla, and she decided to check it out. So far, Strickler has enjoyed the environment and the intensity of the classroom.

“It’s been amazing,” Strickler said. “It’s a little more intense [than my high school classes], definitely, I really think it’s a next level, and I really appreciate that because I want to pursue an acting career and therefore having these classes is really beneficial for me.

Strickler added that she appreciates people in the class, mostly because she feels like everyone is determined to play and excited to be there.

“I just love being there, like it’s so hard for me not to smile while I’m there because everything is so fun and exciting and I love the people I work with,” said Strickler said.

Piper Olsen, a rhetoric major at Whitman, said they were looking for acting lessons at Walla Walla just as Gilmore opened his new studio. Like Strickler, Olsen said they appreciated the other students in the class, as well as the differences between Gilmore’s class and the classes at school.

“Coming out of the Whitman bubble is good for everyone,” Olsen said. “People in this class are people who really want to play, and it’s not just like people who need it for credit, and it’s not intellectualized – it’s just a good time to go and to be with people who are passionate about something. “

Olsen described the classroom experience as unique and something that requires great vulnerability, adding that they enjoyed watching the other students grow over time.

“Watching everyone grow up has been super interesting and really rewarding, especially since it’s a smaller class – as the dynamics between people change very slowly over time, and all of a sudden it’s like ‘oh this person totally opened up today “or” this person really took a chance ‘and that’s really really cool, “Olsen said.

Olsen and Buehler agreed that while one is not interested in becoming an actor, the Meisner technique – especially in terms of Gilmore’s class – is something that will change your perspective on the world.

“It’s not for everyone but… if you want something that will change your life, like soul enrichment, I think Meisner is [one of the only ways] to get there, ”Buehler said. “It’s like super raw. I mean, we can sit and talk about our feelings all the time, but actually feeling them is one thing.

Gilmore also encouraged anyone who was interested to check it out. Especially now, in a remote world, he thinks people need a little more connection.

The Gilmore Studio can be found online at https://gilmorestudio.org/.


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