Joseph Bromfield CV
Joseph Bromfield: Teacher and Acting Coach
Notes on Teaching Acting
"... Joseph is dynamic, engaging, and sincere, and succeeds in inspiring you to reach new creative heights. He goes out of his way to make sure that his students have a fantastic acting experience as he cares about his students as students and as people... "
-DRAM 2020: Acting Student at University of Virginia
"Joseph is the best. He pushes students just enough to break free from their comfort zone while keeping the classroom a safe and productive learning environment. He also makes "improv" relevant outside of the context of acting on stage... truly a life lesson in sincere speech and open-mindedness."
-DRAM 3430: Improvisation Student at University of Virginia
You Are Enough: An Acting Philosophy Statement
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” --Aristotle
I am an actor and teaching artist because I believe in the transformative power of the ensemble. Tasting this synergy of the whole has fueled my dedication to my craft: in the body, in the classroom, and in the theatre.
It was a humbling experience to enter a professional actor training program after a decade of work and study, only to discover that my instrument was in disrepair and in need of attention. Despite my initial resistances and denials, such was my body’s state in the summer of 2014: my instrument worked, but the individual parts desperately needed to be taken apart, reexamined, reshaped, lubricated with new techniques, and put back together again. This process of de- and re- construction is integral to the work of the actor. It is one path to identifying the differences between inefficient, habitual practice and efficient, natural use. This process requires trust, focus, and dedication. You must trust the process and go on the journey rather than end gaining and skipping ahead to the finished product. You must cultivate the focus necessary to work specifically: to find the turn out in the hips for a physical posture in a character like Moliere’s misanthropic Alceste, the dexterity to use the voice’s entire pitch range in Juliet’s bawdy Nurse, and the mental awareness to use the body’s natural strengths, such as height, to advantage when playing Peter and the Starcatcher’s stiff-upper-lipped Lord Aster. Finally you must find the dedication to be present and precise with the work every day. Only after examining the individual parts of the whole, can an actor hope to bring body, voice, and mind together in concert onstage, or even in the rehearsal room.
The ensemble in the classroom is not altogether different from the ensemble within the body; trust, focus, and dedication are integral. Just as an actor must get acquainted with his body, so too must an ensemble be allowed the time to form together. As an acting instructor, it is critical to provide a space in which students feel safe enough to take risks, to celebrate successes, and most importantly, experience failures. Like a juggler who drops a pin in a routine and keeps on juggling, a student needs to fall and be picked up by the ensemble and keep on going. If an ensemble can achieve this resiliency, successes and failures alike will only further strengthen the whole. Developing this trust requires focus, mutual respect, and dedication to work toward these ideals in every class.
Whether in a classroom or in the theatre, the power of ensemble is palpable. If you have ever witnessed the effect produced by a company of performers standing in a line and crossing downstage in unison for a curtain call, you know this to be true. When a theatrical company comes together to tell a story to an engaged audience, time and space can be transcended. This is no accident. It is oftentimes the result of years of planning, months of rehearsing, and the alignment of countless other factors. In the theatre each performance, like a snowflake, is beautiful, fleeting, and one-of-a-kind. And time and time again, it is this transendance that brings me back to the theatre as an audience member, back to the classroom as a student, and back to the stage as an actor.
Teaching Devised Work for Intro to Theatre at the University of Virginia. Photo: Denise Stewart
Lecturing on Acting Shakespeare for Intro to Theatre at the University of Virginia. Photo: Denise Stewart
First teaching ensemble -- 'Joseph's Jugglers' -- from Summer English and Arts Camp in Oriago di Mira, Italy.
Teaching 'Forsooth' at RJ Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, NC for NCShakes.