DCPA Education’s adult classes bring acting back into students’ lives

Christy Kruzick and Ryan Omar Stack starred in a recent Master Class production of ‘Summer and Smoke’ through DCPA Education. Fall classes begin Sept. 29. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins

DCPA Education acting students say the opportunity allows them to work their jobs by day and hone their crafts at night. Fall classes begin Sept. 29.

When you hear “acting class,” who do you picture? Shirley Temple, perhaps? But who says acting is just for kids? DCPA Education offers classes for all ages — including adults. That’s right. Adults are welcome to develop their acting skills whether they are beginners or seasoned stage veterans. Just ask Christy Kruzick and Ryan Omar Stack — business professionals by day and actors by night — who each have taken more than 20 DCPA classes. The stars of a recent Master Class production of Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke recently spoke with DCPA Education Head of Acting Tim McCracken for this report. DCPA Education’s fall classes kick off on Sept. 29 with more than 50 new classes for all ages ranging from intro to acting to the Denver Center’s signature trapeze training to Master Class presentations of Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches by Tony Kushner and Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker. The full class lineup.

What do you do professionally?

Christy: I’m a Story Producer for High Noon Entertainment.

Ryan: I am a Solution Design Analyst for ServiceSource International. We help tech-enabled companies manage their existing customers and maximize what is called “recurring revenue.” My role consists of creating insightful analyses to supplement business cases for potential partners. That means I collect and study potential customers’ sales data, analyze it and tell the business owners where they can perform better, and how our company can help.

How many classes have you taken with DCPA Education?

Ryan: I’ve taken more than 20 classes, totaling more than 100 sessions and 250 hours in the classroom. I’m close to finishing my two-year Lewis Myers Scholarship at the DCPA Education, which requires students to take up to two classes a semester and volunteer or assist with DCPA events. The program has allowed me to make tremendous strides in my craft and approach theater creatively using different techniques and methods, all while meeting some incredible people and making friends.

Christy: I’ve taken probably 20 classes in the past five years. The Education Department just keeps offering such awesome choices.

What’s your motivation: Honing your professional acting skills or just having fun?

Christy: I decided to take some classes to hone my skills after being away from acting for a couple years, but I quickly realized that the classes were really fun, and the DCPA Education community was so supportive and welcoming. Not only am I working on my craft and pushing myself as an actor, but I’m able to be a part of this amazing community. I’m forever grateful for the amazing friends and teachers I’ve met who continue to push and inspire me.

Ryan: All of the above. DCPA Education has treated me incredibly well. When I started the program, I had been on a four-year hiatus from acting. I hadn’t realized what a positive influence theatre was in every area of my life. I searched for a Denver-based program to refine my skills, and that’s when I found DCPA Education. I still have my daily profession. But without a creative outlet, I would not survive. I recently booked my first professional gig, and I hope to continue booking them in the future. My plan is to continue honing my professional acting skills and become a consistent, professional actor — all while having fun. I think good actors should always aim for all three.

Alaina Beth Reel was part of a recent Master Class performance of Sarah Ruhl’s ‘Orlando’ that incorporated trapeze training. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

Why should someone considering an acting class choose DCPA Education?

Ryan: [DCPA Education Executive Director Allison Watrous] has built a community centered around inclusion without forgoing the purpose of the curriculum. The staff is a group of incredibly talented and kind individuals who understand the industry from personal experience. And while the staff is keen on having fun, they are still dedicated to focusing on discipline, technique and method. As you begin refining your craft, the department offers the opportunity to audition for their Master Class projects. These allow you to put what you have learned into a full-production. This is the experience young actors need. The classroom setting is critical, but so is the experience of a living production, from auditioning to performance.

Christy: The teaching staff is incredible. The progress I see in my work and in my technique is really exciting. The Education Department also offers a Lewis E. Myers Scholarship, which covered the cost of many of my classes. So if you are serious about wanting to study and work hard, the scholarship is a really great opportunity. Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t have had the chance to learn so much in such a short period of time. The other thing I love is that is that the Education Department gives you the opportunity to work on great playwrights such as Chekhov, Molière, Ibsen, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Tom Stoppard, Tony Kushner and, of course, Shakespeare. It’s such a treat after a long day at work to come to class and live inside the worlds of these great playwrights.

What class have you enjoyed the most?

Ryan: I can only choose one? I guess I would pick any of the Advanced Acting Classes I’ve taken, which is when the real fun starts. These classes require you working outside of a class setting, which is how professional acting works. I would also say any of Sabin Epstein’s classes. Sabin teaches you to think outside-the-box, unlike anything I’ve experienced. He advertises this as “director proofing.” This technique teaches you to use the text to explore how things can be played differently. This gives you the ability to direct yourself when you’re not getting direction from someone else.

Christy: I love so many of the classes I’ve taken over the years, but I’m especially drawn to the Master Class Projects that are done each semester. I’ve had the chance to work on a couple of them, and I love getting to work on a full play, and dig in to character, scene study and text analysis. It also prepares you for working on plays outside of the Education Department, and it’s fun to share your work at the end with friends, family and DCPA Education classmates.

What’s the one thing you would tell someone about your experience with DCPA Education?

Ryan: My work at the DCPA Education Department had been the greatest influence on my success and growth as an actor. The community of staff and students are incredibly supportive, and that’s important for aspiring creatives. And since the learning environment is open to beginners and professionals alike, I started with fundamental exercises and have reach a level of confidence I’ve never felt in my work. So, although my scholarship is coming to an end, I plan to use as much free-time as possible to continue training at DCPA Education.

Christy: The teachers are amazing and the growth I see in my work and in my classmates work is really exciting. Also, the community is so friendly, and I really feel like we are all there to push and support each other. Lastly, if you’re anything like me, and you love to geek-out about acting, plays, playwrights, movies, come take a class.

For more information on DCPA Education fall classes, click the link or call 303-446-4892.

Tim McCracken is the Head of Acting for DCPA Education, as well as a professional actor, director, teacher and playwright. Last season, he performed in the DCPA Theatre Company’s production of ‘Smart People.’ He won a 2017 True West Award for his performance in the Arvada Center’s ‘Waiting for Godot.’