All production photos by Will Hollis Snider.

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Brooklyn College campus, where I teach in the BFA acting program.

TEACHING STATEMENT

I’m passionate about cultivating the next generation of leaders in American theater. As a white, cishet, able-bodied man, I’ve benefitted from enormous privilege. I feel a moral debt to students who have far greater barriers to development than I did. I am devoted to supporting their training through rigorous instruction, mentorship, and advocacy. I believe their stories will prove the most urgent in the future of American theater and therefore, I must help them cultivate their voices.

My courses prepare students to work on the leading edge of American theater. My syllabi take students on a journey that encourages students to interrogate the core concepts they’ve received, then assimilate and frame them to suit their own experiences and needs. My performance history course begins with Aristotle’s poetics, then requires students to generate their own poetics over the course of the semester. My devised theater workshop begins with a definition of each artist’s traditional role (actor, director, writer, designer), then disrupts those definitions as students work in non-traditional configurations over the course of the semester. My new play acting course re-orients actors’ relationship with texts so that they become generative collaborators in the room, and assume their own identity as storytellers. In all my courses, I empower students to envision new ways of collaborating, new disciplines, and new forms for the stories they will have to tell.

I create classrooms that are anti-racist, feminist, gender diverse, and class conscious because I believe my students can only reach their full potential when they have access to their entire expressive and experiential range--their whole selves. My teaching aims to validate and integrate their lived experiences into their identities as artists, so each of them can develop their own, absolutely unique voice.

My role as a pedagogue intersects with my political advocacy. In an art form where bodies are the central expressive instruments, equitable representation is a core issue that I address at all levels. My introductory courses begin by discussing the constructed nature of the European canon, and de-center it by introducing other performance traditions. I focus on artists whose work has been the object of historical erasure, and artists whose work has emerged outside of white, cis-het dominated institutions. I empower students to confront historical and ongoing oppression, explore the links between cultural and physical erasure, and teach modes of storytelling that relate to students’ own lived experiences.  

Above all, my work empowers students to reach their full potential and to assume their place in the future of American theater. I help them observe and describe their own experiences, lean into growth through earnest reflections and difficult conversations, and help them formulate complex, rich and utterly unique artistic practices. I believe that the future vitality of American theater depends on this work, and I eagerly embrace it.

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SYLLABI

(CV, syllabi & references available upon request)

Introductory Level

  • Acting I - Fundamentals of Acting

  • Directing I - Fundamentals of Directing

  • Playwriting I - Fundamentals of Playwriting

  • Introduction to Theater History

Intermediate Level

  • Acting II – Contemporary Realism

  • Directing II – Intermediate

  • Playwriting II - Intermediate

  • Performance Studies: Introduction to Dramaturgy

  • Performance Studies: European Modernism

Advanced Level / Specialized 

  • Production Dramaturgy Workshop

  • Acting Workshop: European Modernism

  • Devised Theater: Methods & Practices

  • Acting: New Play Workshop

  • Directing: New Play Workshop

  • Playwriting: Adaptation Workshop

  • Performance Studies: Anton Chekhov – Life & Works

STUDENT FEEDBACK

With acting students. Brooklyn College, October, 2019.

"Graham's coaching helped me break through my plateaus and push past what I thought was the edge of my ability as an actor. An absolutely innovative and clear-cut director." 

Josue Guerrero, Brooklyn College Acting BFA

"A phenomenal instructor and director, Graham Schmidt brings a profusion of essential skills and artistic sensibilities to the classroom. His deep understanding of Chekhov's plays, coupled with his own incredibly nuanced perspective on the works, lead to many rich discoveries in my scene study class for both my classmates and myself.

 

Graham bolstered these discoveries through his deft dissemination of rigorous physical theater techniques (Suzuki and Viewpoints), which were both incredibly engaging and illuminating. Not only did his students leave with a greater understanding of complex texts and characters, but also with a new understanding and facility for stage picture and scenic composition.

 

All of these skills are supported by Graham's passion and dedication to racial and gender equality in all aspects of the classroom, theatrical craft, and world.  He not only was able to support our diverse class through his artistic and pedagogical skills, but also through his earnest desire to create an equitable classroom filled with truthful and at times, difficult conversations. Graham approached these conversations with an earnest, open heart and mind. This lead to one of the most trusting and open classrooms I have experienced as an actor and student, allowing for all parties to take artistic leaps that might otherwise be impossible to execute.

 

Graham is a natural mentor and confidant for his students. Working with Graham was inarguably the most fruitful and memorable acting classroom experiences at Brooklyn College, one that I will undoubtedly take forward in my future work as an artist and human."

Tyler Adams, Brooklyn College Acting BFA

"I can truly say, working with Graham Schmidt has changed my approach to acting in a major way. He has given me tools I never knew existed, and I am extremely grateful."

Mariah Sanchez, Brooklyn College Acting BFA 

"Never in my life would I have expected to connect with the plays of Anton Chekhov, but because of Graham's teaching I was able to. Graham addressed my concerns of discomfort, being a Black woman playing Russian characters. He gave me the tools and techniques I needed to find myself in every Chekhovian character, and to bring my truth to every role I play now. I am a much better actor thanks to Graham's instruction, periodt."

Angella Katherine, Brooklyn College Acting BFA

"Graham was made to help actors reach their full potential on stage." 

Dara Mellon, Brooklyn College Acting BFA

"I had the pleasure of being Graham's student during his Chekhov scene study course. Under his instruction, I not only grew as an actor, but found my true voice. He encouraged me to bring my authentic self ot the work, which was initially a challenge as a student of color working with a European classic text. With Graham's help, the Chekhovian work became more relatable to me. He also pushed me to be detailed in my craft and find the basic needs of the characters, and their humanity. Graham also introduced acting techniques such as Viewpoints and Duzuki training, scene analysis methods, and several books that have helped me grow as an actor, and a human being. Graham's teaching enhanced my awareness and approach to my craft. He is a dedicated instructor, always willing to engage with his students, answer their questions, and help them out. I can honestly say that anyone who has the chance to work with Graham or take his course will be in great hands. His passion to collaborate and push his students to their full potential is truly extraordinary."

Charles Fenner III, Brooklyn College Acting BFA

"Graham Schmidt is a great teacher and director. He has deep knowledge of how actors think and what their process is like. He spends time getting to know his students and build a positive teacher-student relationship with them. So, when he works with them it’s easy for them to trust him with their emotions. He also teaches his students how to approach script analysis, make clear choices, and play truthfully and impulsively."

Sarvin Alidaee, Brooklyn College Acting BFA