Acting Training

How Jeffrey Combs became such a brilliant actor: amazing and admirable details

published: 2015/05/20 03:30:00 pm MET
On the internet you can find a lot of hints "how to become an actor" combined with the promise that this can be reached in just a few, manageable steps. But it is not as simple as that - not at all.

Index of Contents:



Discipline, ambition, enthusiasm, perseverance, mental strength, talent and more


The profession of an actor / actress and even a professional actor school is mentally and physically very strenuous.

An actor / actress has to have a lot of character traits and requirements for the whole time the person wants to be an actor, for example: willingness to travel, to cope with lack of sleep, physical fitness, empathy, above-average creativity, an extremely good and fast memory, getting along with embarrassments, enduring also insulting and unfair criticism the whole life, fighting spirit, passion, enthusiasm, complete commitment, extensive fearlessness, adventuresomeness, willingness to learn the whole life, abandonment of regular working hours, high load capacity, self-discipline (diet, exercise, etc.), high abandonment of privacy, patience during shoots, live and deal with stage fright, fear of failure and financial uncertainties.

Searching for acting roles is very time- and energy-consumptive because they are very hard to find. In addition, candidates usually have to attend auditions and enforce there against many competitors. These selection mechanisms already begin when the actor applies for an actor school.

In addition you must not forget the other psychological burdens that affect the life of an actor. Here I want to refer to the movie "Birdman" that Jeffrey Combs has highly recommended (details: Post: "Birdman"): This movie deals with popularity, success, prestige and attention, things which an actor / actress and artists need for their work. An actor plays on the stage or performs in a movie and gives all he can. He presents himself and his personality to his audience. Someone in the movie said something like this: "On the stage I do not play any other person than me, but in all the other parts of my life I do."

Acting is a full-time job with overtime and you have to give all if you want to be good and earn enough money to live. And then there is so little time and capacity for the personal life: familiy, children and friends. In additon, it's not enough for really good actors just to act. They can be awesome - but it is also important that the people notice and love it. In comparison to other jobs it is very unfair. Doing his work perfectly is often not enough to be successful. How frustrating! An actor is dependent on reviewers and his audience. And that is another unfair point: The audience can often be manipulated easily by reviewer and other media.


What professional training did the brilliant actor Jeffrey Combs chose?


Elementary School and High School

Jeffrey Combs told in an interview that he attended already at the elementary school's as well as at high school's theater classes and has also performed on the stage several times.

High school: Lompoc High
Already at the Lompoc High he attended an actor- / theater course and performed on the stage.

Actor School / College: Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts (PCPA) / Allan Hancock College
After graduating the high school, the brilliant Jeffrey Combs attended the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, California. Here the actors are students trained in professional acting in the theater. It's a certificated program.
Address: Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, P.O. Box 1700, Santa Maria, California 93456

University: "Professional Actor's Training Program", University of Washington (PATP)
Of course the professional Jeffrey Combs passed the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts very successfully. So he was able to succeed in the audition of the University of Washington in Seattle against many others competitors. Jeffrey Combs studied three years there in the "Professional Actor's Training Program" at one of the best American universities for actors. In addition, each student was evaluated by his acting skills every quarter and if the skills were not sufficient, the student was dismissed from this training program. Jeffrey Combs reached all his and their goals - he's high talented, professional and strong! Respect!
Address: School of Drama University of Washington, 101 Hutchinson Hall, Box 353950, Seattle, WA 98195-3950

Starting career: regional theaters
He started his career at different regional theaters with several acting groups.

(For sources and more information: Page: Biography)


Proofs for Jeffrey Combs' professional actor education wanted? ;-)


Watch any movie with Jeffrey Combs in a main or another cast role - you will certainly feel, see and know that Jeffrey Combs is one of the best actors and mesmerizes his audience with his amazing performance.

But you can also find Jeffrey Combs mentioned as an "alumnus" in an article or in photos:

at the PCPA

"The Official Alumni Reunion" in the course of the "50th Anniversary Reunion" took place on August 8 to 11, 2014.

Here you can see some photos with the beloved Jeffrey Combs. On one of them, Jeffrey Combs is on the stage alone and giving a speech. It's obvious that the "Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts" is very proud of his talented alumnus Jeffrey Combs. His invitation to this meeting and to talk on the stage to the audience was a great honor. (Twitter.com - @jeffreycombs' Tweet).

Photos:
PCPA.org - Reunion:

AND
"Jeff Combs" is mentioned among the names of the alumni: PCPA.org - alumni with national prominence

at the PATP

Jeffrey Combs is mentioned among the names of the "Notable alumni" in the category "Acting": Wikipedia.org - University of Washington School of Drama


What does the actor training at the actor school / college "Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts (PCPA)" include?


Here you will find several videos that describe the education of a drama student: acting (incl. body acting), technical skills, circus training, combat, voice and speech, audition techniques, theatrical make-up, theatrical sound design and singing techniques:
PCPA.org - Videos

As I wrote in the introduction, the training to become an actor is a very hard and exhausting study which can only be achieved with a lot of commitment, enthusiasm and talent.

Elective subjects do not exist. Participation in all subjects is mandatory. The classes include six days a week from 9:00 am to 10:30 pm and additionally theatrical performances.

The excellent education of an actor is based on the unique relationship between the professionals and the students. The actor students have to learn so many skills they need for a theatre career: ballet, fencing (stage combat), dancing, movement, singing techniques, acrobatic, juggling, balancing, create a make-up and much more.


What does the actor training at the "University of Washington" in the "Professional Actor's Training Program" (PATP) include?


Here is a video "Experience a day in the life of a drama student in the UW's Professional Actor Training Program" with dance and free movement program and more: UWTV.org - Video

It is a "Professional Actor Training Program" that lasts three years, ending with the degree "Master of Fine Arts in Acting". This program PATP has high prestige in the world of theater, television and other media and forms top-level professional actors. This study exceeds the acting in theater by further outstanding and professional acting skills in television, film, commercials and other digital media.

The techniques of the training are based on Konstantin Stanislavski, Suzuki, Viewpoints, Alexander and more.

The studies include: voice, speech and dialects, hard physical training, stage combat, theatrical make-up, sewing and producing a wearable costume, creating drama, stage lighting design, directing, teaching of acting, working with computer graphics systems, writing for the stage and more.

Students will be taught by well-known and professional teachers who come from the theater, film or television.

Furthermore students are prepared perfectly for auditions and their career as an actor / actress.

It's a very intense study: daily from 9am to 5pm with performances and rehearsals in the evening and on the weekends.

"During their course of study, each student appears in at least seven productions, two self-written solo shows, an in-depth dialect project and continual, extensive scene and technique classes." (source: Drama.washington.edu)


Jeffrey Combs talks about his wish to become an actor, his education and his study at the acting school and the university


Jeffrey Combs' famous quote:
"I suppose I gravitated to acting out of a mixture of instinct, naivete and opportunity."
source / read more at: Horror-asylum.com

Jeffrey Combs confession:
"Secretly, it was always my greatest wish to be an actor."
source / read more at: Horror-asylum.com

Jeffrey Combs is one of the few highly talented actors who really made their dream come true with realistic discipline, power of endurance and fighting spirit!

Jeffrey Combs told in an interview that he attended already theater classes at the elementary school as well as at the high school and has also performed on the stage several times.

Jeffrey Combs emphasizes in an interview how much he has actually learned on the "Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts". He raves over PCPA and his actor training there:
"I mean, it was truly the gift that put me on the right path. That's where I really learned my craft."
(source: PoeForevermore.com)
And additionally, he has learned a lot from the brilliant skills of his movement teacher at the University of Washington.


Possibly selected learning contents / exercises of Jeffrey Combs during his actor education / study


Mask Work

Jeffrey Combs has told in an interview that he has learned the "mask work" at the University of Washington from his movement teacher. The "mask work" has a Greek performance tradition. First, the acting student wears an absolutely "neutral" mask without any significance and expression.

Jeffrey Combs: "It's a white mask with a blank stare - there's no character in this mask - BE THAT. And one would be real surprised just how difficult is indeed."
(source: PoeForevermore.com).

Every time you get a mask with a little more expression, you amazingly realize suddenly how your body and you will become this person the mask shows. It was the same for Jeffrey Combs with the alien characters in "Star Trek": the character grows in Jeffrey Combs with the mask and the costume of the special role and they let him feel how the character behaves and thinks.

Exercise of Konstantin Stanislavski

A typical exercise of Stanislavski is the throwing of tennis balls between two silent actors, the statements and a situation should be created only by the nature of the throwing. I wonder if Jeffrey Combs has also done such an exercise. Certainly, it would have been very exciting to watch him doing that!

Jeffrey Combs as an all-rounder: training and continuing education

Here are some examples for his versatile acting skills:


Sources / Further Information


PlayBillEdu.com
Collegeview.com
Page: Biography
Wikipedia.org - PCPA
PCPA.org
PCPA.org - Technical
Drama.washington.edu - PATP
Drama.washington.edu - Awards and Honors
Drama.washington.edu - Courses
Wikipedia.org - University of Washington School Of Drama
Washington.edu - Drama
SchauspielerWerden.net (German)
Learn.org
Kstatemtd.com - Auditions for PCPA
PoeForevermore.com
Horror-Asylum.com
Wikipedia.org - Konstantin Sergejewitsch Stanislawski (German)
Escubes.com


It was a very, very interesting information for me to get to know how Jeffrey Combs became such an ingenious actor and what he has done to make his dream professionally become true.

And I have a lot of respect for Jeffrey Combs, his seriousness, his outstanding talent, his incredible power and his awesome performances.

I wish you all that your dreams in life become true too!

Yours Gabi
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