Actor’s Lab helps student performers

Imogene Wofford, Staff Writer

“Find someone more intimidating than me, and do it for them first,” Dr. Carrie Klypchak, associate professor for acting and directing at Texas A&M University-Commerce, said about easing her students into their monologues.

“So when it’s time for you to say your piece for me, you don’t feel nervous or anxious, and it’s easy for you to get through your monologue,” she said in reference to Actor’s Lab, a free, private acting coaching program for A&M-Commerce theatre majors and minors.

The lab is for students needing to work on acting projects, specific audition pieces, class projects, or oral presentations and for students who are doing extra work to be better performers.

While working on her doctorate in theatre at Bowling Green State University (Ohio), Klypchak had a roommate who was “completely terrified to present her presentation, and didn’t know what she was going to do.”

Klypchak said, “I told her, ‘When you get up there in front of them, picture everyone is in their underwear and you are the only one clothed,’ and she came back and was so excited that it worked.”

Ten years ago, Klypchak began her A&M-Commerce teaching career as an associate professor for acting and directing—and Actor’s Lab was born.

She is also the assistant dean of the College of Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts. So the lab runs only four hours a week during her office hours, Monday through Thursdays. Along with being run four hours a week, students are allotted 30-minute time slots and must sign up 24 hours in advance to their scheduled time.

In Actor’s Lab, Klypchak doesn’t provide coaching for improvisation—only prepared pieces.

“To get the most constructive criticism, as well as for time’s sake,” Klypchak said, [she] has high expectations of students to come prepared and have their monologues memorized.

“Students come to Actor’s Lab for help and coaching,” she said, “but sometimes they are still on edge about their script, or monologue. So I provide them with many different ways to help alleviate their anxiety and nervousness. I teach the one in particular that is the simplest and can be done anywhere and that is the deep breathing exercise. Therefore, when in Actor’s Lab and a student is nervous, I tell them to take a couple minutes and breathe deeply before getting into their monologue.”

To sign up for Actor’s Lab, students must go to her office in the Performing Arts Center, Room 129. The lab itself is held in the Black Box, or Main Stage Theatre, which are also in the Performing Arts Center.