FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF HAVEN ACTING STUDIO
"Ben is a treasure of an acting teacher
- a rare combination of instinct,
intelligence, and compassion.”
Tony Award-nominated actor Brian J. Smith (The Glass Menagerie on Broadway, series lead of Sense8, Treadstone, and more, lead in the feature film The Matrix Resurrections.
Ben Immanuel is not only a highly accomplished, multiple award-winning actor on screen and stage, but he is also a multiple award-winning writer/director/producer of film, television, and theatre.
He brings these diverse, yet inter-connected viewpoints to his teaching at Haven Acting Studio; the heart and soul of an actor, the keen eye of a director, the incisive vocabulary of a writer, and the leadership and get-it-done work ethic of a producer.
Since 1989, Ben has studied extensively with many renowned acting instructors, most notably with some of the most influential living acting teachers/authors of our times. It was under the tutelage of the brilliant Ivana Chubbuck (author of The Power of the Actor) that Ben became an acting teacher in 1995. He studied with her in Vancouver and Los Angeles for many years and continues to enjoy an ongoing creative rapport with her to this day.
Ben has also studied with the masterful Larry Moss (author of The Intent to Live) in Vancouver and Los Angeles, and the life-changing Patsy Rodenburg (author of The Second Circle) in New York. Ben is also eternally grateful to one of his first teachers, Canada’s own Mel Tuck, for introducing him to the world of theatre; from Greek Tragedies to Shakespeare, to Modern Classics. The wide scope of these teachers’ work unquestionably informs everything Ben does, yet his approach is uniquely his own. Perhaps one of the things Ben is most known for as an acting teacher is his ability to quickly, empathetically get to the root of an actor’s creative/emotional challenges, then find ways to unblock and empower the actor -- always prioritizing effective choices and clear storytelling.
In addition to his acting teachers, Ben has learned countless lessons that inspire his work as an acting coach from experts ranging from unforgettable grade schoolteachers to sports coaches (Ben fought in the Canadian Jr. National Boxing Championships as a teenager) to therapists and career coaches. A believer in being a student for life, these days Ben credits his students with helping to teach him how he can not only keep growing as an acting teacher but also how he can become a more evolved and present human being.
Founder Ben Immanuel and all our teachers at Haven strongly believe that the acting techniques utilized in class should be tailored to the needs of each individual student. We confidently share the use of long-proven acting foundations, but we don’t subscribe to the notion that there is one overall system or technique that is effective or appropriate for every actor. All our teachers are experienced, working actors (at least 20 years of acting and 10 years of teaching experience) who have studied extensively with excellent teachers, and we use that knowledge to introduce our students to a wide variety of working styles. We lead assuredly, yet listen closely to every student’s feedback. We focus on what is effective and empowering for each actor -- class by class, day by day, moment to moment. It’s an ever-evolving process.
Demanding an atmosphere of respect, professionalism, and accountability, we are dedicated to developing an ongoing collaborative relationship that inspires, challenges, and supports actors on their creative and career journeys, ideally for many years to come.
COMPREHENSION CLARITY COMMITMENT - THE 3 DIMENSIONAL ACTOR
Ben employs the words “Comprehension, Clarity, Commitment” as a simple way for actors to check in with themselves and see if they are truly doing their work thoroughly, and to the best of their ability.
“One thing makes all the difference in the world - knowing what the fuck you are talking about.”
“Teach” in American Buffalo
- David Mamet
Know the play. The world. The time, the place. The style and tone. Know the creator’s other work and their personal history. IT’S ALL ON THE INTERNET. There’s always more to learn, but if you can’t converse about the play and feel confident sharing your own opinions and insights, you haven’t done enough work to freely, effectively perform it. Knowledge is power.
“Speak the speech I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue.”
Hamlet, in Hamlet.
- William Shakespeare
Your instrument must be functioning with clarity in order for your voice and behaviour to effectively communicate the story. You must be present: on your breath, on your voice, in your body. Clarity is your delivery system and without it, you cannot connect with your own source energy, the text, or your audience.
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
- Stephen King, Author
How much do you care about the story you are telling?
How hard will you work?
How much of yourself are you willing to give?
This is what makes the difference between the decently functioning, employable actor, and the actor who truly commands our attention. It has been said that discipline is the truest form of self-respect. Committed actors have self-respect, while un-committed actors are haunted by a constant fear of being exposed.
If you bring comprehension clarity and commitment to everything you do as an actor, you’ll always be prepared for whatever acting challenges come your way. You may even be astonishing. If you don’t do the work, every time you step in front of the camera or onto the stage, you so at your own peril.
These words are not a claim to reinvent the wheel in any way. It’s a simple encapsulation of what’s required to be a self-respecting professional actor. The masterful instruction of all the great leaders (to name a few), from the Ancient Greeks to Shakespeare, from Stanislavski, Strasberg, Meisner, Adler, and Hagen to Chubbuck, Moss, and Rodenburg, is contained within “The 3 Cs”. All these teachers have demanded that their actors “do the work” and leave no stone unturned.
A FINAL WORD, (FOR NOW)
"Theatre is a safe place to do the unsafe things that need to be done."
- John Patrick Shanley, Playwright
Greatness doesn’t happen overnight. The learning never stops. Haven Acting Studio is a place to reach beyond your grasp. To fall down and get back up. A place to be inspired by others' work, to share in each other’s victories, and empathize with each other’s challenges. It doesn’t matter if you are a trembling beginner or a self-assured award-winning series regular. If you’re willing to be truthful with yourself and respectful to others, we have a place for you in one of our classes and we will wholeheartedly champion you on good days and bad days, alike. And in those glorious moments when right and wrong fall away like shed skins and we tap into the undeniable truth of being human, we will all know it. Until then, we hope this information has been helpful and we look forward to welcoming you to Haven Acting Studio.