It is impossible to talk about what Impulse does without talking about Impulse’s Founder and Artistic Director Scott Williams. His knowledge, ethics, approach to acting and years of experience are the foundation stone on which all our work is built.
Scott Williams trained with Sanford Meisner at Neighborhood Playhouse in New York in the 1970s, relocating to London in the mid-1990s. He brought with him the acting technique first developed by Meisner, a member of the influential Group Theatre and contemporary of Lee Strasburg and Stella Adler among others. All Group Theatre members had read Stanislavsky and all were in revolt against the ‘speak the lines and don’t bump into the furniture’ school of acting. All developed their own responses and their own techniques. Strasburg and Adler became generally better known than Meisner, perhaps because of their association with actors like Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando. Indeed, for many years Meisner was known as ‘the theatre’s best kept secret’. Meisner defined acting as ‘living truthfully under a given set of circumstances’ and devised a series of exercises and an approach to text that enables the actor to do just that. The technique we teach is rooted in those exercises.
Scott’s primary mentor apart from Sanford Meisner was US director and founder of the American Conservatory Theatre William Ball. Ball saw production as a collaboration in which every individual had a part to play. His approach was always positive – a ‘Yes, and …’ rather than a ‘Yes, but …’ response to the individual actor and the unique quality of her/his contribution. This approach liberated the actor by building on their strengths rather than exploiting their insecurities. Impulse respects the individual actor and is committed to helping her/him to be the best they can be. We do not believe it is necessary – or appropriate – to ‘break down’ the actor in order to release him or her. Rather, we provide the safe space and supportive environment in which the actor can explore the full range of responses that can arise during our work.
The Impulse Company and its tutors worldwide operate under the following ethos. We strive to develop practitioners who are:
- Creative with that which they are given;
- Resourceful, bringing ideas, effort and good will to the work environment;
- Proactive, anticipating the needs of the rehearsal and performance processes;
- Proud to offer up their work with dignity and forthrightness;
- Courageous, knowing that the Technique gives them the ability always to be truthful, and that the truth makes for powerful performances;
- Positive, saying ‘yes’ to new ideas, trying out different approaches and offering praise for work well done;
- Flexible, understanding that things can change often and without warning in our business;
- Farsighted, knowing that they are part of a greater artistic whole and looking for opportunities to contribute to a process which is greater than themselves;
- Empathetic, understanding that performance is a collaboration, and bringing a sensitivity to others’ needs;
- Considerate, appreciating the differing approaches of all artists;
- Courteous, aware that everyone makes a valuable contribution to the working environment.
This ethos is as important to us as the techniques we teach.