Emily’s Service Reflection on Summer at LSTFI

At the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute this summer, I helped teach 11 kids the basics of Lee Strasberg’s method acting and general theatre skills. I was with the children all day and was a Teacher’s Assistant to the teachers who gave up their summer to teach at the Institute, despite being free of the usual NYU and Conservatory program students that they teach year-round.

This year is the last year possible for me to go to Strasberg, where I’ve been going for 11 years now. I’ve watched many a student rehearse for college auditions, read scenes better than I’d ever seen, and generally been inspired by so many of those people who were older than me and are now off doing great things for the American theatre. It was not only adorable, but incredibly nostalgic and also quite amazing to see these kids exactly where I started off at LSTFI: I was only 7 years old and taking the exact same classes they were taking in the same two week extension. Although many people don’t agree with Lee Strasberg’s methods and I wouldn’t dare to argue that they are far superior to any others, the one thing I know for sure is that the people teaching at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute have the power to inspire and keep that inspiration flowing inside of a person. Before I go off to college myself, I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to be one of those people this year.

Emily’s Summer Service at LSTFI (The Mirror)

 With the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, I helped out at a childrens’ camp which taught them the basics of Lee Strasberg’s method acting and also other basic skills vital to theatre. I helped the kids get to their classes and acted as a Teacher’s Assistant to the teachers who gave up their summer to teach at the Institute, despite being free of the usual NYU and Conservatory program students that flood the halls of LSTFI year-round. Lee Strasberg believed that there should be no “advanced” or “beginner” acting classes — instead, he thought that the old and the new should be in the same class together. The new students can look up to and learn from the older students while the older students can be reminded of the basic skills that they learned when they were a beginner. During the week I volunteered, I definitely was reminded of many things I had once learned when I was the age of the students (8-11), for my attendance in that very same program I helped out in was vital to the beginning of my acting “career.” 

Seeing the children learn the beginnings of method theatre acting, singing, dancing, and acting for film at such a young age not only made me smile but also reminded me of who I once was and who I continue to be. Although I did volunteer this summer, I spent most of my summer in a 6-week theatre conservatory program at Carnegie Mellon University. While my time there was well worth it, very educational, and so fun, it was hard to see past the incredible competition that there is for aspiring actors nowadays. In many colleges, the odds of getting in for a musical theatre major are less than that of getting into a Broadway show. It is easy to lose hope when surrounded by kids just as talented or more talented than you are. However, seeing the children at LSTFI made me remember how hopeful and motivated I was when I was their age. I used to dance and sing for my parents every night because I wanted to be the main character in Broadway’s Wicked, and nothing could stop me from practicing constantly — not even the neighbors’ complaints. Seeing and helping the kids learn from great teachers made me remember that motivation, and not lose sight of a future that I may be able to have just because there are others who are also good at what I do. My experience was educational not only for the kids but also for myself, and although I am getting to the age where I will have to leave the Young Actors at Strasberg program, my experiences in the camp and helping out there will always be in my heart, and it will motivate me when I move on from high school.