MANILA, Philippines – Entering show business seems to be one of the top career choices nowadays. Have a modicum of talent, possess a respectable amount of good looks, and it seems the proliferation of reality and talent shows beckon, fueled by dreams of stardom, fast money and lucrative endorsement deals. And that is the fact, along with the inescapable truth that while many are called and want to be actors, very few are ready to treat it like a true profession, put in the work and hone their craft so they emerge that rarity — a really good actor. After all, how many Matthew McConaugheys and Cate Blanchetts are there in the world?
As head of ABS-CBN Star Magic Acting Workshops, director Rahyan Carlos knows that improving one’s acting skills is a never-ending process. While many in the entertainment industry have concentrated on advancing technology, whether via camera work, special effects or set design, Rahyan has made it his calling to constantly upgrade what the workshops can mean within the context of what resources he can muster — and to place “acting” as the obvious core of his mission vision.
When Halle Berry won her Oscar for Monster’s Ball, it was the name of her acting coach, Ivana Chubbuck, that she screamed out during her acceptance speech. The likes of James Franco, Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt and Beyoncé are ready to give testimonials on her website. Rahyan put in the time to travel to L.A., learned the Chubbuck technique, went beyond her book The Power of the Actor and emerged as the only Filipino to be accredited as Chubbuck acting coach.
And just this month, Rahyan was able to convince Ivana to visit Manila and hold a two-day workshop at ABS-CBN’s Dolphy Theater. The idea was to give those who would participate a proverbial taste of what the Ivana Chubbuck Studio can offer — the apt metaphor as Ivana herself would stress was that this merely like licking the icing of a cake. For the observers, this was a chance to witness how a premier acting coach operates, putting the likes of participants Piolo Pascual, Xian Lim, Sam Milby, Dimples Romana, Gerald Anderson and Jake Cuenca, as well as those from the world of theater and hosting like Issa Litton, through their paces as they were assigned scenes from such celebrated films as Chasing Amy, The Breakfast Club, Girl Interrupted and Perks of Being A Wallflower, among others.
A no-nonsense, gritty teacher, Ivana spewed “fire” during the two days, challenging the actors to reassess their potential and use “substitution” as a means to unlock their power as actors. By employing the Chubbuck technique, this meant using what you have felt or undergone in your life as a key to giving life to the lines and the portrayal. Raw, heightened emotions are thus harnessed to give one’s acting a newfound dimension. And while that may seem simple in concept, tapping into that real emotion is a process that’s not obvious at all. Ivana would brazenly ask the participants about their personal lives, practically turning her Q&A into a form of psychoanalysis — this in order to identify the right “substitution.” It was revelatory, as some of the participants would be moved to tears, remembering the pain of a father who abandoned them, or a serious relationship that went awry. Just how integral a role the “acting coach” played in all this was very obvious, as some of these are memories and feelings one may have submerged and/or relegated to a dark corner of one’s psyche over time.
Without exception, the actors all saw the “method to the madness,” and their performances on the second day already showed marked improvements — making one wonder as to how it could create new standards if one underwent the full course as offered at Ivana’s studio. I observed some TV directors, cinematographers and acting neophytes in the audience, and they seemed enthralled by the process — how Ivana has systematically turned it into a technique, one that readily shows results.
What remains to be seen is how many of the actors will take the lessons during the two days to heart, and understand that they all have the opportunity to better their craft. As some of them are established stars, it can be so easy to sit back, stay within their comfort zone and believe they no longer have anything to prove. Ivana’s whirlwind two days here should be a potent reminder of how great acting is all about educated risks, about stretching and never being complacent, smug or satisfied.
By Phillip Cu-Unjieng (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 9, 2014 – 12:00am