I've been taking Bruce's class for over a year now and it is still the night I look forward to most in the week. Bruce creates a trusting environment where I can feel free to create and perform without judgment. He also sets forth goals and challenges I strive to succeed. I can honestly say through his class I have become a much stronger actor and more successful one. The showcase we put on is a blast and the fellow students are true friends. Bruce is a great friend, himself, and a fantastic teacher, mentor, and director. —Kerry Fitzgibbons
Bruce Ornstein has an intuitive understanding of actors, as well as a gift for bringing out the very best in a person as an artist. An experienced actor, director, writer and producer, Bruce brings a unique perspective, a sharp eye for detail and an invaluable insight into the many aspects of the craft. He is constantly encouraging and nurturing creative expression and development. I am deeply indebted to him for his patience, guidance, inspiration, and friendship. —Brant Cunningham
Bruce believes in the core of each individual student he teaches. In
the time I've been involved in the workshop I've learned that in order
to be creative you need to allow yourself to create. Through his
support, and guidance I have produced four original plays and stepped
on to a New York stage for the first time. Not only has the workshop
provided me growth in my craft, it has given me a foundation to move
forward in my everyday life. —Amy E. Witting
I believe we were all put on this planet for a reason... to recognize our dreams and live them as fully as we can, without the limitations of fear. I feel extremely fortunate to have found Bruce's class and to be a part of it. I had an unpleasant experience in the past, when I took a class at a well-known acting school, and was unsure that I'd want to attempt the study elsewhere for fear of the same hostile and insensitive environment. I've been attending Bruce's class for four months now... within that time I've shed most of my fear and feel ready to take on the world.
The exercises that we've done in class have had an amazing effect on both my acting abilities and my life. They've helped me to gain the courage to be more open to my true self and to share that self with others. (Also, they're great fun and energizing!)
Performing monologues and scenes in class has also given me an incredible amount of confidence. Bruce's direction and insights always seem to be unbelievably on point. Many people can be great actors but it takes a special talent to reach others with your teaching. I've seen people in class give satisfactory performances, but after a few pointers from Bruce, just moments later, they've taken their game up to excellence.
Being in this class has given me the security of having a personal acting coach... who really cares and pushes me and wants to see me succeed. Thank you, Bruce. —Ilona Moon
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Bruce knows what works and he really gets you on course. He's challenged me to work with my voice and body and still keep it all organically centered. That sounds very artistic, but Bruce brings it down to a very practical level where it's natural to learn and grow. I would recommend him to anyone. —John Crefeld
I have been taking Bruce's workshop for almost a year and a half now,
and I can honestly say that it has changed my life in
many ways. After meeting Bruce for the first time, I felt this
freedom to be open right off the bat. Bruce has a way of making a
person open up and forget about self-conscious judgments that most of
us feel while expressing ourselves. I always thought I'd just be a
face in the crowd, just be an onlooker in a sense of the word. After
the first week of classes, I never felt so free to express myself in
ways that I never had before. His workshop gives you a space where
you can explore and express your inner self in such a safe arena.
Also, not to mention the friendships I've gained with the other people
in the workshop as well as with Bruce. He provides a place where we
as artists and actors can explore many facets of ourselves -- directing, writing, and producing. I've gained so many opportunities as an actor because of Bruce and the friends that I have made in his class. I will never forget the night I was watching T.V. at 2 in the morning and looked on the internet and found Bruce's website and said "what the hell, let me give this guy a call". It's totally changed my life. —Billy Weimer
I've trained at many institutions both here in New York and internationally. I spent all of last year trying to land work and couldn't. I was at one of those low ebbs we all experience from time to time and was resistant to taking another class. I resented the fact that I had "paid my dues" and the work wasn't coming. A friend in London suggested I call Bruce. After a day or two I pocketed my pride and called. It was Bruce's combination of practicality about the business, respect for the actor's process and enthusiasm for our craft that immediately won me over. I can honestly say that Bruce has created as safe an environment for the actor as I have ever experienced. Effort is expected, and regardless of result, criticism is constructively affirmative. I've trained with some "gurus" who believe that actors need to be broken down or reduced to some controllable state. What they forget is that no one could be harder on the actor than the actor him/herself. I believe in Bruce's statement that, "You need to be professional and balanced in your life and insane in your work". He encourages creative insanity and leaves the actor to be autonomous in their choices, which by the way is where Stella Adler said our talent lies — "In our choice." Bruce is a wonderful choice for either the future or current professional actor. As a side note, from the work I did in class, a writer who likes to use the actors in Bruce's stable cast me in two excellent plays. —Wayne Brusseau
Bruce's expertise and guidance have been invaluable to me as an actor. I find myself consistently challenged and inspired by the work I encounter in his classes, both as a spectator and a performer. He knows when to push an actor to deal with the personal and professional issues holding them back, and how to do it in a no-nonsense yet caring way. His understanding of both the craft and the business of acting is an essential resource for any actor pursuing a career in New York City. —Tonya Jone Miller
I feel like I came to Bruce knowing that I had something to say as an actor, but without an understanding of how to express that essence. Through Bruce's unique gift as a teacher and relentless support I continue to become the actor I'm meant to be. I feel prepared to face the industry with Bruce on my side. —Michelle Samuels
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I starting taking Bruce's Workshop nine months ago. From the very first day, I was engaged in doing unique exercises that expanded my imagination, strengthened my craft, and challenged my comfort zones. While this was quite a new experience for me, the class was very receptive and provided a nurturing atmosphere for even the most novice of actors. Soon after, I took part in the showcase, giving me valuable experience and the reinforcement that I needed to continue pursuing my passion for acting.
Now less than a year after taking the class, I have a feature film and a regional commercial under my belt. While the parts are modest, I can only imagine what the future may hold, with more practice under Bruce's coaching. He emphasizes the need to work in every class and offers the kind of friendship and guidance that has allowed me to grow in a safe environment. —Ted Price
What has been so terrific for me in studying with Bruce is his kindness and patience in working with me on my craft. He maintains a clear insight as a director when critiquing my work. He has helped me greatly in expanding the emotional levels of my work, and applying it to my exploration of character.
Bruce's work with actors of differing levels of experience is extraordinary. It is honest and true, guiding each talent to their fullest potential. The exercise work takes us all, regardless of our "level", to a place of real spontaneity, where preconceived thoughts and ideas are left far behind.
I have seen his work as a director. It is wonderful, not only from the point of view of staging, but, perhaps more importantly, from the fullness of the performances of his actors — energy, risk taking, and real. I recommend Bruce as a most gifted teacher with whom to work. —Barry Burns
Bruce may be the most supportive acting teacher I've ever had. He takes the time to get to know all of his students not only as artists, but as individuals. Also, because he's had so many different experiences in theater, film, and TV he is a wonderful source for advice. He teaches free of judgment and encourages his students to work in the same way - creating a wonderful environment in which to grow as artists. He's always pushing his students to let go of their insecurities and self - judgments that hold them back as artists, helping them to bring out their true voice from within. —Jessica Rotundi
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Before my entrance into The Actors Studio I studied with Bruce for three years. To this day I still do. He is truly an amazingly gifted teacher who inspires, motivates and shapes your perspective on the art of acting in ways you couldn't do yourself. Best of all, he's there whenever you need him. When I met John Travolta at The Actors Studio he said of Bruce, "Of all the people I worked with on 'Saturday Night Fever', Bruce was the most inspiring. He must be a great teacher".
He is. —Mike Waldron
I have worked with Bruce Ornstein for 2 years and it has been an eye opening experience. From the first day in class, he had his students go right into the work: with exercises, monologues, even scene work. I was able to feel comfortable working him right from the first day. From that comfort level I could develop my craft in ways that I never dreamed I would be able to do, and I could create characters that I never dreamed I would be able to create.
Bruce has a great eye for seeing the potential in all of his students, and more importantly, he helps each student see this potential in themselves. He encourages a sense of discovery and fun. For me, he has alleviated all the pressures I felt came with acting, and has made me appreciate my talent as a gift. I am very fortunate to have worked with someone like Bruce. It is because of his teachings that I feel confident and ready to take my craft and my career to the highest level.
Bruce, thank you so much for all that you have given me. It is a pleasure and a blessing to work with someone like you. You have such kind and wonderful soul. I love you, man! You rock! —Kristine Sanabria
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Bruce has been an immeasurable source of guidance, inspiration and light on my path as an artist and a human being. I met Bruce at a film screening and was almost taken aback by his honesty when critiquing the film. However, I'm glad to say that all of his feedback on the film made complete sense and revealed a rare understanding of drama and a generosity when sharing that understanding.
It's this understanding that most impressed me when I later enrolled in Bruce's acting workshop. Whether he was critiquing a scene or directing an improvisation exercise, Bruce understood how to reveal and maximize the dramatic intentions behind any given situation. As a teacher and friend, Bruce was able to help me understand my personal issues and how they were interwoven with my growth in class and in my life. His care and devotion to the creative and personal freedom of each student, both on stage and in real life, inspired me to live my own truth and to let that truth be heard, seen and realized.
Now, as a choreographer, my creative process is still so guided and inspired by the lessons I learned from Bruce. The dramatic tools I took away from his workshop helped me take my dancing and choreography to a much higher place. His work as a director with my dance company has helped me get the most out of my dancers and my ideas. In fact, our last collaboration even incorporated actors from his workshop. It has been one of my personal and artistic life's luckiest turns to have met and had the chance to work with Bruce. —Valerie Norman
Passionate about his calling, knowledgeable about acting, and generous to his students, Bruce gives total professional commitment. In class, he connects deeply with his students and outside encourages our career development. In the last 30 months I have performed in, and directed, several showcases, plus been encouraged to audition and consequently appeared in several productions. My skill and confidence have increased immeasurably. Bruce really understands his students and helps us use what is at our core to enrich the creative process. For his passion in the craft of acting and his generosity both as a teacher and a human being I am forever grateful. —Marie-Christine Katz
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A year ago I was working in Manhattan and trying to determine how to pursue my dreams of becoming an actress. Perhaps knowing my private ambitions, Fate led me to Bruce Ornstein's Acting Workshop.
Bruce is an ideal acting teacher for newcomers to the craft. In less than a year of study with Bruce, I've acquired the confidence and skills to pursue acting jobs in New York City. I've gone on about 15 auditions, performed in two different one-act plays, and was cast for a VH1 promotion. Bruce is extraordinarily dedicated to the growth of his students. Like any good coach, he is available "on and off the field," and an excellent motivator. With his guidance and support, I've discovered the joy of acting. —Lindsay Davis
Bruce's class is my sanctuary. No matter what I am feeling, I can bring it there and work it out either through the exercises or the scene work. It is a place full of truth, no judgments, and honesty. It is a place that helps to uncover the layers that you need to discover, in order to become a better actor. Bruce helped me channel my nervous energy into focused performances, as well as guiding me to understand the importance of accepting the gifts given to me, so that I can have the potential to give great performances. —Aliya Yasmeen
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I'd always had a burning desire to study Acting but felt it was out of my reach because I've suffered from severe stage fright ever since I was a kid. It was only after attending a few Public Speaking Anxiety classes elsewhere that I felt the courage to respond to an ad for an Acting class. Meeting Bruce for the first time is something I will never forget. Bruce responded to me with such interest and enthusiasm, and after spending only a short while with me had this incredibly intuitive sense of what I was about and what I could bring to my work as an Actor.
I was still very unsure of myself however, and expressed as much in that first meeting with Bruce, and again in front of the first class I attended. In the beginning, as enjoyable and richly rewarding as the class experience was, I certainly continued to struggle with the stage fright as well as my own insecurities, and to question whether I actually belonged there. What was amazing though, was how empowering the work was. However, what really kept me coming back to class was Bruce's strong sense of commitment to each of us, and his unwavering belief in me, which was always solid as a rock. I was also constantly amazed at how focused Bruce was in class, and how much he genuinely seemed to care about his students, not just during, but outside of class as well.
Well, after only a few months of class I found myself performing in the Showcase! Needless to say, this was an amazing achievement for me. It was also a truly fantastic experience; the wonderful feedback that I got from people, and the opportunity to share with, and acknowledge my fellow actors work was really a privilege to be a part of. Through my work with Bruce, my perception of myself has evolved to where I now feel as though I want to continue to move forward in my pursuit to grow and work as an Actor.
Bruce is the consummate teacher. Along with his experience and expertise, he brings a sensitivity and intuition, which I think is rare. He is, I believe, a true Artist, in it for 'the work' itself, and he obviously loves what he does.
There is such a proliferation of classes available out there, but I think of Bruce's class as my 'home' class, so to speak. Why would I even think about going anywhere else when I'm already in very good hands? —John Talerico
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I guess I could state the obvious and tell you that Bruce is an amazing instructor. That he has awakened, nurtured and challenged my talent to levels of success I never believed I could achieve. But what I feel truly sets Bruce apart from all others, is that he's not only an incredible teacher; he is a friend, a mentor and a true inspiration. —Jocelyn Burrows
Bruce gave me the insight needed to understand what acting really is all about -- a belief in self. If you believe in yourself as an actor, you will have the discipline needed to do "the work" and hence book the job. He throws you into the fire, but it's real---his doing so is one of the best gifts I have ever received.
He is not only an instructor, but a confidante and a dear friend. —Shelley Bennett
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Bruce has the unique ability to create a level of comfort that has allowed me access to deep emotions that, in turn, have given me access into a character's soul. He is able to take negative energies that have built up over a period of time, and turn that energy into positive flow that is useful in the acting process. He consistently guides, encourages, and even prods us to make strong choices in our work, leading us closer to the ideal of true creative freedom. —Joseph Currie
I joined Bruce's class with mainly a writer's background and one of the first things he said to me was "have the courage to face down your fears". Working with Bruce on a daily basis and eventually on productions, I became a stronger person. And yes I became a better actor and to my surprise an improved writer. His guidance as a teacher and a director has been one of the highlights of my career. Bruce is no guru, which plenty of acting teachers will claim they are. In fact, he is very human. He will give you everything you need. You simply need to open your mind and your heart. An actor never stops growing, never stops learning. Something else Bruce taught me. —Van Truong
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If you're looking for someone who is as committed to your development as an actor as you are, then look no further. Bruce's nurturing qualities, his patience, and his experience as an actor, writer, and director all come together in his teaching style. If you're looking to grow as an artist, this is the place. —John Felidi
Bruce finds out what works for the individual actor to go beyond conventional limitations and find a place of truth in their work. Part-technique and part scene-study, classes are explosive as Bruce constantly pushes his actors to grow, expand their instruments, and take major risks in their work. I spent two years at the Workshop, and found it to be an essential creative outlet as an emerging actor in NYC. His passion for truth is contagious, and he creates an 'anything goes' environment, where I was able to go to hypersensitive places in my work and become truly vulnerable in a city that bombards us with reasons to stay closed up and hidden from the danger zones. Bruce does not just teach acting - he teaches actors how to live, think, love, and work as creative spirits shedding light throughout the modern world. —Michael Cuomo
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I am always impressed by Bruce's natural
instincts regarding the actors in his class. Whether students are beginners or seasoned, Bruce creates a safe artistic space which allows the actors to free any emotional blocks or beliefs that were hindering them. This sense of safety allowed me to be open and gave my work a greater depth and resonance. —Chris Penny
I've gone to Bruce's classes for almost two years because:
He is both idealistic and clear-eyed about acting.
He analyzes our performances so closely and so deftly and can put complex reactions into words.
He takes his work seriously yet laughs at himself.
He gives us the exhilarating opportunity not only to act on stage in front of paying customers but to write and direct as well.
He inspires and pushes us to go to internal places we weren't sure we could go.
He makes the classroom a safe environment to open ourselves up, to take chances, but he also acknowledges the outside world, asking us to care about the world at large and let it affect our work.
He cares so very, very much about each of us.
Taking Bruce's class has made me feel that the magic is just as much in the journey as in the destination. —Michael Lengyel
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Bruce's class has transformed me into a more talented actress, a more confident person, and an all around maturing artist in a very short period of time. —Vanessa Bender
Bruce is an excellent actor, director, and most importantly, teacher. His combination of acting exercises and scene work provide avenues for each actor to develop his or her craft. Bruce's classes combine classical acting training with personal attention based on each student's background and personality. Bruce takes the time to get to know each student so he can tailor his teaching methods to get the most of each actor. Because of this knowledge of his students, he possesses the unique ability of being able to isolate specific traits upon which each needs to focus in order to improve.
Bruce's directing skills are most evident in his showcases. During the 6 weeks of preparation prior to the showcases, Bruce is intimately involved with all of the perfomances and provides expert guidance. The showcases are an incredible experience, and each professionally done in all aspects ranging from the cast, crew and theatre. Most importantly, Bruce cares about his students and helps guide them down the proper path in acting and in life. I've known Bruce for a long time and I consider him a friend now as well as a teacher. I highly recommend his classes. —Daniel Marlo
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Over the past two years, the satisfactions I've gained from going every week to Bruce's class have kept me going in many, many other ways. I joined his workshop in October 2002 on a whim, thinking it would be another way to work on my fiction writing, but also knowing in my bones that I'd love working on theater in a serious way. I did love it, but I could never have predicted his workshops would be such a good fit for me. I love his approach to teaching, his sensibilities about theater, and his temperament.
In my second class, I read a monologue from a modern translation of Sophocles' Antigone. This turned out to be one of those eerily appropriate choices that drew on my deepest personal feelings about family, sibling protectiveness, and conflict between the powerful and powerless. As Bruce said afterwards, "sometimes a piece chooses us." I was impressed by the compassionate attention he showed in the questions he asked me about myself, and about my interpretation of Antigone's journey.
Bruce's keen attention comes across with every actor with whom I've seen him work. After a few months in his workshops, I explained to him, in a phone conversation, how impressed I was with the way he tailors his approach to each actor. I'd never been involved in a class or workshop that involved so much one-on-one discussion taking place "on stage," and I learned a lot from watching him adjust to the different needs of each actor. He's probably helped in this by his well-developed intuition. In another one of those eerie coincidences, the first winter I worked with him, he cast me in a one-act play that echoed my own life. It was a great part for me, and I enjoyed the thrill of being on stage, but even more, I loved the way everyone in his workshops came together to produce a great evening of theater. He knows how to inspire people.
The core of his methods involve techniques to deepen the actor's center, to open up her vulnerability, to give her greater and greater access to the body and its driving forces. The exercises he has us do remind me of the recommendations of teachers like Viola Spolin, Stephen Wang and Yoshi Oida. One of my writing teachers once said, "Voice is of the body." I believe this wholeheartedly, and I think this may be one reason Bruce's classes are such a good fit for me.
In the two and a half years I've worked with Bruce, my range has expanded considerably from that first fortuitous casting of me in a version of my own life story. My picture of Bruce has also deepened, so let me end with a few observations. He puts his actors' growth first; he pushes everyone to do their best, no matter how accomplished they already are. Occasionally I get stuck, and become frustrated at my inability to understand his suggestions, but I have always found it possible to burst through. If you have the will to work, he has the patience to see you through. He's committed to artistic experiment, and he encourages you to find the same freedom within yourself. Finally, what I love most about Bruce as a teacher is his love of what he's doing. This gives him great confidence in himself, and in those of us who have the opportunity to work with him. —Rebecca Passonneau
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