There are three rules at a Todoroff workshop; don’t leave the room while he’s working with an actor, don’t use your cell phone, and have fun. “And don’t forget to take notes,” he advised, “I’ll tell you when to write things down.”
So began a 5 hour adventure into the coaching, directing, and performance style of Tom Todoroff, owner of Todoroff Studio in New York City. As part of his national audition tour, Todoroff gave a master’s workshop at Morningstar Studios on April 23rd in Fairfield, Iowa. Several Media and Communications students from MUM were in attendance.
One former student, Isaac Nevas, an alumni of both MSAE, MUM, and the Todoroff Studio, said of his time with with the conservatory, “It’s a great home base. If you just go to a city without something to do you’re gonna flounder unless you’re extraordinary. But at the conservatory you plug in to this group of other highly motivated people, Tom the most of all … I didn’t come into the studio thinking I was going to be an actor. I came in thinking I would be a writer. I wanted Tom’s particular brand of kick-butt discipline. He’s a professional artist. He works as hard at being an artist as most high powered business men work at business. I wanted that. He holds the room.”
The audience was indeed receptive and engaged for the full five hour experience. For each question and answer section, during which an actor would remain silently on stage as part of the exercise, the audience raised points related to the performance. The audience dug deep for advice on stage presence, preparation, intonation, and other areas touching on public performance. Tom delivered in-depth answers to each individual and made sure to relate all of his notes back to the actor on stage as well as to his own personal experience.
His seasoned advice spanned both the physical and emotional landscapes of acting, from learning how to relax (“Breathe. Know your character. Know what you want.”) to creating a physical entrance for your character (“No one begins by standing still. How are you coming into this moment? Decide where you were before.”) Tom’s coaching style is active and engaging. By calling out advice as the actor moves through the scene, Tom guides his subjects into a space in which the scene and character form around the actor.
Towards the end of the day the mother of Ramya Hipp, one of Tom’s students, offered to say a few words about her daughter’s time at the conservatory: “My experience of her experience is that [my daughter] has been blown away. Whenever I speak with her, she’s enthusiastic and excited. She even asks me for advice about her process … I can’t say enough about her personal development … I am grateful for Tom. Her father and I are both thrilled.”