time teachers, and numerous part-time and special assignment faculty devote countless hours to performing exemplary theatre. Tom’s teaching staff comes from the industry, just as he has, and everyone continues to work and learn in the “real world” of theatre. Dozens of students have graduated from the Academy and moved on to college theatre programs across the country. Some alums have had major roles on Broadway and television; one currently has the lead role in Book of Mormon national touring group, while others have become playwrights, musicians, stage managers, and designers. One graduate is a performer in the Royal Academy for the Arts in London. Most alums return frequently to continue learning from Tom and his faculty team and to share their lessons with current students. This is all testimony to the extensive experience and network Tom has created. The website for the Academy is http:chagrinacademy.org
The Main Messages There are many, many messages Tom’s wants his student to learn. The art of the theatre is the overarching lesson to be shared. As an
artist, it is impossible to live separate from the creative mindset. Some of the main messages Tom schools his students on are: Not everything is art. Today in pop culture, almost anything passes for art. Much of what is done today is lowering the standard for everything, including art. Tom believes this is unfortunate and wants students to know that there are standards, a history, and an expectation for theatre artists. Art is bigger than the artist. Stanislavski, from My Life in Art, informs us “Love art in yourself; not yourself in art”. Tom teaches that it is always about the art, rather than the individual artist, as vanity “eats like acid at your talent”. It takes time to create timeless art. The artist must be willing to put in the hours and learn the lessons taught by experience. Becoming original is almost an art in itself. For the actor, imitation and comparison will fail every time. Invention and creativity will always win in the end.
Tom Fulton as Potemkin in Celebration at Interlochen Arts Academy 1970
The power of an actor is in being true to yourself. Living in the moment is the key to happiness and great art. Right or wrong, but always true. Everything we experience in life; family, love, anger, grief, joy—all of the fruits of living this short life—become fuel for the fire of creation. Everything is connected and necessary to bring the power of ‘self’ to the stage. Who you are is where your power as an actor comes from. Good actors know themselves. For an artist, everything has a reason.
The Fantasticks Directed by Tom Fulton
Tom has blended all his experience and expertise into an Academy that looks and feels a good bit like Interlochen. It provides an opportunity for the students to learn the lessons Tom and his staff have learned and to grow and love everything about theatre and all the things it teaches. A critical lesson Tom has learned and shares with students through everything he teaches boils down to a popular line from King Lear, which also appears on his e-mail address: Thou must be patient.
volume 13 | 2017 • www.aroundkent.net