As Broadway star Betty Buckley warms up her voice in preparation for singing “Children Will Listen” at the Roundabout Theatre's Gala in Manhattan on February 27, she also is getting ready to host a major Intensive Song Interpretation/Monologue Workshop at New York’s T. Schreiber Studio March 12–17 and then perform a series of concerts in support of her new double album, Story Songs.
For Buckley, the Tony Award-winning original Grizabella in Cats, the workshop will provide a forum to share, not only her experience as a performer, but her personal philosophy for growth as a person in any field of endeavor.
“My workshop is about how to connect with an audience in storytelling, as an actor and singer,” said the actor, who is currently co-starring in M. Night Shayamalan’s box office hit film Split. “I teach a variety of students: committed high school students who really want this [performing] career path, and younger and older professionals who want to have a reboot in their sense of purpose in their work as communicators and actor/singers. I share with my students the tools that I use in my work, that were taught to me by my great teachers—how to connect with an audience in song for singers and monologue work for actors or non-singers.”
However, Buckley said her workshop is not just for performers. “I’ve had a wide variety of auditors in my classes who just want to up their communication skills, sometimes just to communicate better with friends and family. I’ve taught writers, public speakers, athletic coaches, even investment bankers, which was probably the most challenging class I've ever had to teach.”
Among the skills she advocates is meditation, “as the means for learning to focus the mind.” On a deeper level she said she teaches “a universal spiritual philosophy as the basis for making choices as an actor/singer/storyteller. My great teacher Paul Gavert first told me I should read the book Zen and the Art of Archery. I didn’t know how it applied to singing, then. But I learned that by practicing meditation you learn how to focus your mind in one pointed way, which is the essential means for connecting with an audience. I learned that focus—beautiful focus, exquisite focus—is the key to beautiful storytelling and clear communication.”
Buckley, who also starred on Broadway as the original Martha Jefferson in 1776, and served as a replacement Norma in the original Broadway run of Sunset Boulevard, said, “Making your choices as an actor, as a singer, as a storyteller, involves finding the the connective essence in all humanity. I have a heart that is beating, that wants to love and be loved; you have a heart that is beating, that wants to love and be loved. We are entirely the same at heart. Our backgrounds, our individual stories and histories might be different but our essence and humanity is the same. If you focus on that and believe it with all your being, you become one with your audience. Your stories then resonate in an essential human way.”
For Buckley, the workshop is just a way of passing along to new generations the wisdom she inherited from others. “Everything I know, everything I’ve learned to do well, I’ve learned through my studies with the greatest teachers in the business—people like Stella Adler, Terry Schreiber, Sondra and Greta Seacat, The Actors Studio, Paul Gavert, Joan Lader, and Liz Caplan. I feel a responsibility to share the tools that these amazing people have shared with me.”
For details on all her appearances, visit BettyBuckley.com.