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VoyageLA: LA’s Most Inspiring Stories

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Click Here To Read The Full VoyageLA Feature!
It was wonderful to be able to sit down and get up close and personal about my journey and that of MC²=Mario Campanaro’s Masterclass in an interview for
VoyageLA’s Feature Article:

LA’s Most Inspiring Stories!

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mario Campanaro.

Mario, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I guess it all started as a child. I had never really felt like I fit in anywhere. I always felt different somehow from those in my area except for a select few that were also known around town as the “oddballs.”

So naturally, we found each other. But as a young child, I did not really have the tools to understand what that was all about. So I instinctually retreated a lot and found solace in building a creative world in which I found some freedom, solitude, and belonging to whatever it was that I was exploring at the time. That world often existed in my parents’ basement in which I would create elaborate worlds, build sets out of large pieces of construction paper, cardboard, and odds and ends I would find throughout the house. I would sing my heart out down there and write scripts which often dealt with some kind of “strife.”
When I think about it now, I have to chuckle a bit. I mean, what did I know about suffering at the age of eight? But there was something within me that yearned to understand why others experienced suffering and how to find one’s freedom from suffering. I remember the first script I wrote at that age was called “The Beast and The Servant”. It was about these two extremely different beings that went through all these “trials and tribulations” to try to reconcile their differences only to find out at the end of the 15-page script, that it was a little boy looking in the mirror the whole time.
Around that time, I ended up finding out that my best friend had been cast as one of the two child roles in a professional production of South Pacific. Though I have always known what a play was and did little plays in my basement, I had never seen a professional production. I guess you can say that I knew theater existed, but I had no idea what theater actually was or was capable of creating. Long story short, he ended up getting house seats one evening, and his mom took me to see it. I actually get tears in my eyes thinking about it now because that night forever changed my life. The second I sat in that beautiful theater, the lights went to black, the orchestra started, and the stage lights illuminated and I, for the first time, felt like I was home.
It was like all those “things” that I was doing in my basement and trying to make sense of finally made sense. The creative part and the understanding about people part. From that moment on, I never looked back. It was like a laser focus love affair with the theater, acting, and art. From there, I started to immerse myself in everything I could about acting and the theater. I became obsessed with Broadway. And I begged my parents to allow me to start auditioning. And I auditioned for everything I possibly could. Ironically enough, I ended up booking a role at the same theater my friend worked at about a year later, and the rest was history.
As a child actor, I got away with a lot of bad habits in my work. So it was clear that in order to have a long-standing career, I needed to know what I was doing. Once high school was over, I started to audition for professional actor training programs at some of the most prestigious conservatories in the country. I finally chose to go to North Carolina School of The Arts for three reasons. First, the program was impeccable and consisted of an international legendary faculty that was wholeheartedly committed to teaching the craft of acting. Second, it was in the middle of nowhere so there would be absolutely no distractions. There was literally no choice but to focus on the work and that is why everyone who attended this conservatory was there. It was all about the work.
And third, they only accepted a small ensemble each year giving us all individual attention and amazing opportunities during our training and there after. Following my training, my school offered a consortium, and I ended up in NYC and signed with my theatrical, commercial, and modeling reps. From there, I was fortunate to have had the opportunities to work in noted productions on and off Broadway, on television and film, as well as doing numerous campaigns and commercials. Then one fine evening, I finished the curtain call for a show that I was in at the time and headed to meet up with some friends for a nightcap. It was then that my life changed again.
One of them worked in the admin department of a pretty well-known studio in the city and asked me if I ever thought of teaching acting. We discussed my process, approach, and how I personally worked. Next thing I knew, I was offered a job teaching acting. Looking back now, though I was confident in what I was doing for myself as an actor at 23, I probably had no right to teach at that age. I was still trying to implement what I learned in my training and continue to refine my craft and make it my own without it being some formula or heady equation. I was still learning to allow my craft to bring me fully alive to the truth within the work. With that said, I accepted anyway and started teaching when I was not doing the show. The rest is history. I fell in love all over again.
I began working with actors of all ages and from all over the globe teaching craft while also implementing some of my intuitive abilities to help those experiencing obstacles in their life and work connect and transmute the components contributing to those circumstances.
Eighteen years later, I continue to increasingly become more and more passionate about teaching and focus my teaching approach so that actors know that there is not THE way to get there! But there is A way. And that way is the way that resonates and stimulates with the actor’s instrument to do honest, exciting, sophisticated, and unpredictable work in relation to the circumstances at hand. This is a craft that never fails the actor. It always has the actor’s back. It supports the actor in his or her knowing so he or she can experience that sweet spot of freedom within the unknown of the moment.
In my opinion, that is the craft the actor wants to cultivate. That is the craft an actor wants in his or her toolbox. That is the craft that keeps the actor in love with the glorious art form of acting. After two amazing decades in NYC, I moved to Los Angeles where I created Mario Campanaro For The Actor and MC²=Mario Campanaro’s Masterclass and continue to teach, coach, and guide actors from all over the globe.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
You know, it’s really interesting. I am looking at this question, and I have no idea where to begin to answer it. It actually brings up a lot of feelings for me as I contemplate all the things that I have had to endure to get to where I am at this moment in time. Sometimes we forget all that we have been through because we are taught just to forge ahead. But sometimes, it is really important to remember not so much to wear all those things as a badge of honor, but to remind oneself in the midst of tough times that you do have what it takes to get through it all so you can keep moving forward. And I would not have changed any of it for the world. It made me who I am. It all made me extremely strong as well as extremely sensitive.
All those obstacles, all those hard and treacherous times have actually been the stepping stones to where I am today. They have formulated the way I teach and the way work with all my actors/artists/students/clients. Those circumstances have blessed me with the compassion, insight, wisdom, and understanding of the human condition in a way that I would not be able to had I not been through those tough times. So I guess the answer to the question is a definitive no. It has definitely not been a smooth road. Does anything worthwhile ever come easy? We all go through seasons in our life that come with some pretty difficult trials and tribulations. It is something that connects all of us. I mean aren’t we all trying to improve our lives moment to moment to experience peace, love, happiness, joy, success, etc. I know I am.
And I also know every story ever written is about a human being trying to overcome obstacles to achieve those things. For me, the rough road was not so much coming from the professional side of things. I was pretty fortunate in that regard. I worked hard, made myself accountable, and things paid off. But it was more personal. And as an artist, you are your instrument, so it was stuff that had to be dealt with eventually. As I described, at a young age I really struggled with who I was. Looking back now, it is strange that I would be asking those questions of myself at such a young age. But I did. It was in the cards I guess. It was a necessary part of my path. And it was hard because I felt so alien to the rest of the world. I felt like I did not fit or belong to anything or anywhere until I found the theater.
I also had certain gifts that I did not understand which made things even more difficult because I really did not have a mentor at that time that helped me understand what those gifts were or how to harness them to as not completely deplete myself. I also was aware that I was gay at a very young age, so it really messed with my self-esteem and caused a lot of unwarranted self-hatred, guilt, and shame. I was not aware of many others “like me” at a young age. I wasn’t sure I really understood what it was. So I always thought there was something very wrong with me until I woke the hell up one day at the age of 16 with the help of a really special director I was working with. She cared about me. She saw me. She really believed in me. She saw this internal conflict waging war within me. She helped me get through some really tough times. She introduced me to other artists who I could trust and was finally able to come out to and be myself. It was like taking a first breath. I will never forget that kind of love and support. I will always have so much gratitude in my heart.
But all that hell of guilt, shame, and self-hatred allowed me to understand its opposite and also to understand others. To see it in others. And to be a source of support for those going through any circumstance that may make one feel those lower energies.
The icing on the cake was in my early thirties, I ended up developing this mystery chronic illness in which I almost lost my life. It caused me to taste every single symptom one could imagine. Physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual. I used everything that I had within me and went all over the globe to find answers, a way to conquer this “thing” that was trying to take me out. Sometimes I did some pretty crazy treatments, but I deeply wanted to stay here. I had too much to do on this earth and wanted to make a difference.
I lost A LOT of things along the way because of it. But I also gained that much more. It helped me understand life more. It helped me appreciate life more. It helped me understand others so much more. I not only witnessed and experienced my own suffering but was in the company of so many others suffering inexplicably. It opened me. It opened my heart. It helped me taste many aspects of life that many of us try to push away or pretend as if they don’t exist. And it’s crazy because the whole time I have been on the healing journey, I never stopped working. It was my work that fueled me to fight harder and try to win the battle. And everything that I have learned along this journey, however difficult, has been the key components to my work and having the ability to bring out the very best in all the artists I work with. It just gave me a more profound vocabulary of the human condition which is invaluable when it comes to the world of acting.
Please tell us about Mario Campanaro For The Actor & MC²=Mario Campanaro’s Masterclass.
MC²=Mario Campanaro’s Masterclass is a really special class that has been created to specifically to serve the actor and his or her needs when it comes to learning the craft of acting in a tangible, exciting, usable, stimulating, trustworthy, and very human way. The class is about exercising the actor’s instrument. It is about going to the gym, artistically speaking. It is not a class about having the pressure to perform for an audience, or about necessarily getting the job or being perfect. It is there for the actor, as a safe space to get messy, to get specific, to struggle when he or she needs to struggle within the work, to celebrate diving into obstacles/blocks equally as celebrating breakthroughs/successes, and most importantly to CULTIVATE CRAFT!
It is about exploring and telling all the stories about the human condition in all its grit and glory. It is about doing the work without judgment so the actor can continue to learn, grow and expand as an artist. I know I said it earlier, but I really believe it is worth repeating. I truly believe, and I have seen its magic in the work with those I work with, that “There is not THE way to get there! But there is A way. And that way is the way that resonates and stimulates with the actor’s instrument to do honest, exciting, sophisticated, and unpredictable work in relation to the circumstances at hand. It is about learning and being able to use a craft that never fails the actor. It always has the actor’s back. It supports the actor in the knowing and therefore in his or her freedom within the unknown of the moment. That is the craft an actor wants and needs to cultivate. That is the craft the actor wants to continue to work with! That is the craft that will sustain the actor throughout his or her entire career.”
Each class has been structured with a select group of committed actors working at a congruent skill level. I think it is really important to make sure that all those in each ensemble are working at somewhat of a congruent skill level to keep the momentum of that specific class moving forward in a challenging yet supportive environment. I also believe it to be of the utmost importance that the group of actors come together to form an ensemble in which everyone feels safe to explore the full spectrum of the human condition. Many who are already part of the MC² ensemble have studied with me in class and/or privately either in NYC or LA and know that the class requires a high level of quality, commitment, accountability, respect, and of course professionalism when it comes to the work.
My number one goal at MC² is to teach and support the actor in cultivating a craft that works very specifically for him or her. The class is structured with a conservatory like feel in which each class’ ensemble comes together weekly to wholeheartedly exercise, stretch, and strengthen his or her instrument and craft in order to explore the full range of the human condition that the actor’s work demands. For each class, I pair each actor for scenes and then each group is held responsible for choosing material that excites and challenges their instrument to work on in class. Each group is required to do the necessary work on each scene, i.e. text analysis, making strong choices, and all the necessary steps an actor must implement to bring the text alive.
Actors then rehearse their scene with their partner(s) sometime(s) in the week before getting up into the space. It is not required for scenes to necessarily be completely off-book (though it naturally happens) but each actor should be familiar enough with the text to be off the page as to allow for the necessary connection with their partner, to go after needs, and the ability to respond instinctually. It is an amazing class environment full of inspiration, celebration, and appreciation for actors and the craft of acting.
Mario Campanaro For The Actor, on the other hand, has been created to give actors the option to work one on one with me. Whether it be for an audition, film, television, or theatrical production, each session is individually crafted to serve the actor in cultivating his or her craft and to profoundly resonate with the material at hand in order to live instinctually, honestly, and authentically moment to moment.
The full services for the private sessions include:
▫️In-Person Off Cam Coaching Session
▫️In-Person On Cam Coaching Session
▫️One On One Audition Prep Coaching Session
▫️Individual Craft Cultivation Coaching Session
▫️On Set Coaching Session
▫️Remote Skype Coaching Session
▫️Voice Over Coaching and Recording Session
▫️Remote Artist’s Life Coaching Session
▫️Remote Life Coaching Session
▫️Remote Spiritual Life Coaching Session
★ On- Camera lighting and equipment are available for all self-tape auditions.
★ Skype coaching is available and very convenient for out of state clients and for last minute auditions!
★ All Artist Life Coaching sessions are done remotely by phone.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I do not even need to hesitate when I answer this…It would definitely be the first time I stepped foot in that theater and knew I was home.
Contact Info:

Warning! Acting Actually Requires You Knowing What You’re Doing!

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Last week I got a call from an actress that was referred to me by a long time student and private client.

I could tell the moment we started speaking that this is one of those actors that really really has respect for this art form.

I could hear in her voice she has that burning hunger that I personally love to witness that keeps the actor going deeper and deeper into the work.

It is quite clear that along with her remarkable talent, she has amazing instincts and intuition that have carried her very far in her career.

She has had a lot of success on a number of tv shows and is now being given the rare opportunity to bring her gifts to the stage in a city that is not very forgiving when it comes to standards.

She has signed all the contracts and in a few months she will play a very complicated and layered role in a new two and a half hour drama minus a much needed fifteen-minute intermission.

And yes, she has to do eight shows a week.

There will be no “Action!”

There will be no “Cut!”

And you guessed it…

There will be no editing to pick and choose the very best takes to bring the perfect performance together!

There will just be her, the ensemble, the set, the props, the lighting, the sound, the arc as laid out by the text that she will have to live without stopping two and a half hours a show, eight shows a week, and about two thousand people in the audience who paid about $150-$300 sitting there to watch her do it.

In short, there is nowhere to hide and no one/no thing to hide behind.

There is no stopping and starting over.

It is happening right now and the stakes are as high as they can possibly be!

That’s the beautiful danger of theater Life!

It is the actor’s true home requiring and even testing our technical accountability to make it through such a deliciously challenging process.

So you can imagine the panic in her voice as she shared:

“I just don’t know what I am doing! I can’t get there on my own! I take class. I have literally taken class all over the place. I mean I get these notes and sometimes I have no idea what they mean. And then within a lot of the class setups, I am scared to actually ask what these notes mean because I don’t want to ruffle anyone’s feathers. But shouldn’t they make sense if they are being given to an actor? Shouldn’t I know what I am doing by now? And then I feel like it is up to luck if things go well in the space or not. Sometimes I am in it and sometimes I am not. And even when my work goes well, I have no idea how I got there. Yeah, I guess it is luck. I always seem to have a breakthrough when I get these random adjustments, but then I have no idea how I can use what just happened from the adjustment without being handed the adjustment to get the breakthrough. So I leave feeling great about the breakthrough I just had from the adjustment but I always seem to have to wait for the adjustment just so I can have the breakthrough. I am literally addicted to adjustments!… to get the breakthrough to discover some kind of opening in which, at this point, I am not even sure has anything to do with the life of the actual text. It’s like I am always being directed rather than learning what the hell I am doing! And I want to know what the hell I am doing! I feel so damn stuck! And I am actually also a little angry that I am still in this position for this long. And worse, I feel absolutely lost! And so I am actually scared to do what I love doing! How the hell am I suppose to do this eight shows a week! What did I say ‘yes’ to? I am terrified!!!”

Before we hung up, we set up a meeting, and then I asked if it would be ok if I dedicated my next blog to this subject and share her story anonymously as I know all too well she is not alone in this predicament.

She agreed as long as I promised to help her “find her way out of the predicament”.

We laughed and I was honored to be brought onto her team.

Unfortunately this is not an isolated conversation.

I am disheartened as I am introduced to more and more actors revealing to me how distraught they are by not getting this “thing” that they seem to knowingly or unknowingly be looking for.

Despite reading numerous acting books, scrutinizing award-winning performances, participating in numerous workshops, and jumping from this studio to the next, there still seems to be something missing that is leaving the actor with a very large question mark about this “thing” they so inexplicably love.

So what’s missing?

Well…

I can tell you, without hesitation, what is missing.

Craft!

No matter what day and age we are in, though “styles” may have changed throughout the ages, the basis of all acting has not:

PLain and simple:

Life, circumstances, relationships, needs within those circumstances and relationships, obstacles to overcome in order to improve circumstances and relationships, and doing all we can that is in line with the text to achieve those needs with the hope of living in one way or another some kind of  peaceful, happy, successful, loving life as indicated by the givens of the text.
Basically what you would know in life, so would the character!

Because all that makes the unknown of the moment possible.

Without it, you are telling your own story and swimming in your own pool of who knows what.

We need tools that will help us physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually do the work.

Just as a ballet dancer needs to know all the technicalities to do a thousand faute turns, the actor also needs to have a set of tools supporting him or her to do the work.

If you want to live in the chaos of the unknown or moment, you have to be aware of what is known to do just that!

And of course, the perfect test of action is can you, the actor, do a play that is two and a half hours, eight shows a week, and still have a consistent, alive, uninhibited, organic and visceral performance as well as the vocal and physical stamina to do your job and tell the story truthfully using the full spectrum your instrument?

And let’s be honest, this is not just reserved for the theater.

Any actor that has the talent, sophistication, know-how, and ability to be dependable and accountable is an actor that has a long life in this business whether it be stage or screen.

I always say at nauseum to my students and clients:

“An actor that is always working…
is an actor that has always done the work!”

So here is my short answer to this unfortunate dilemma.

How do you live moment to moment in relation to the circumstances of the text?

Craft!

How do you live in the unknown of the moment?

Craft!

How do you use your listening in relationship to filter wants and needs that drive your character’s story forward?

Craft!

How do you emotionally live the arc of your character?

Craft!

How do you get to where the text indicates?

Craft!

How do you have a clear relationship with others including your environment and objects that still tell the story?

Craft!

How do you discover the physical or vocal attributes of your character?

Craft!

How do you make sense of your lines so they are not something you are just saying but they have an intention to improve your character’s circumstances moment to moment?

Craft!

How do you organically give birth to the lines you are saying?

Craft!

How do you viscerally understand what is happening between the lines?

Craft!

How do you completely bring your character to life using the accumulation of your life experiences as the instrument to the world of your character?

Craft!

How do you live in the chaos of the life of unknown?

Craft!

How do you do a two and a half hour show eight shows a week?

By being supported by craft!

If you are seeking answers to these issues and are still saying to yourself:

“I still do not know what the F*$# I am doing!”

It is time for you to take a stand and speak up for yourself because you deserve what you are seeking not only as an actor, but as an artist!

And quite frankly, as a consumer!

There is always something invauable to learn from everyone, but you have to be sure you are learning and can use what you are learning for your career as actor to be active and alive and truthful in the work in relationship to the story!

The fact of the matter is you have the right and obligation as an actor, as an artist, to have a set of tools, a craft, that will always have your back supporting you in any and all of your creative endeavors.

And there is not the way to get there!

But there is a way.

And that way is the way that resonates and stimulates with your instrument to do honest, truthful, exciting, sophisticated, and unpredictable work in relation to the circumstances at hand and that always allows for the quality of your work to be consistent and not dependent on luck!

It supports you in your knowing and therefore in your freedom within the unknown of the moment.

That is the craft that you want to cultivate.

That is the craft you want to continue to work with!

This is a craft that never fails you.

It always has your back.

That is the craft that you can always put to the test, refine, mix and match, while always knowing that you are supported and can find your way!

That is the craft that allows you to throw caution to the wind, dissolve fear, and fall back in love with the process of acting once again!


About The Craft…With Master Teachers Mario Campanaro & Jeffrey Glickman

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About The Craft…

A Free One Hour Virtual Class

With Master Teachers Mario Campanaro & Jeffrey Glickman

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Master Teacher and friend, Jeffrey Glickman, (owner of the Actors Gym Studio, New York City and The Actors Studio, Stockholm), and had an amazing in-depth conversation about the incredible craft of acting.

We had an awesome time discussing:

-Our indivdual approaches to the work!

-How we work!

-Who has influenced the way we work!

-What has influenced the way we work!

-The importance of class!

-The objective of class!

-Why craft is so important!

-Why it is so crucial for a craft to be cultivated that works specifically for an individual actor!

-The many obstacles actors may face in their work and career!

-What we have found that has assisted actors in dissolving those obstacles that keep him or her from their greatest potential!

-What we have found that has supported the actor to keep growing, opening, and expanding in their work!

-All those confusing questions about ‘feelings and emotions’!

-What brings each moment of the work alive!

-How to bring each moment of the work alive!

-Life!

-And many more topics that have come up during our almost four decades of combined teaching actors across the globe!

You won’t want to miss this free one hour virtual class! ​

*This special event has been dedicated to all the amazing actors out there who love this art form and continue to fearlessly pursue their dreams!


The Best Masterclass On Acting…And One Every Actor Should Take!

Yes, but you’re still missing an important part of the equation.

It’s great to be reading all these books, and it’s wonderful to be going to all these classes, and participating in this or that workshop, or reaching out to this or that mentor…

But you’re still going to the middleman when you have full accessibility to go to the main source!

And that’s Life itself!

The very nature of what we do is revealing Life!

So why are we not turning to Life more when it comes to the craft of acting?

If we really want to learn to listen, turn to Life!

If we really want to learn about the pursuit of needs and overcoming obstacles, turn to Life!

If we really want to learn about relationships and circumstances in general, turn to Life!

Life is THE masterclass you will ever participate in.

It has all the answers you will ever need about the craft of acting.

And everything you will learn from it is completely applicable!