Robert Cordier (now called Acting International). The article promised a new avant-garde approach to theatre, with a director who had worked not only with some of the greatest American actors, but also with Jim Morrison. [...] I made an appointment.
There I discovered Lesley Chatterley, a blond, peppy, and smart British actress in her thirties who introduced herself as Robert Cordier’s partner and asked me a few questions. I was in!
The workshops were held at the Atelier de L’Ourq, which are big warehouses on the banks of the Ourq canal in Paris. These beautiful brick buildings (which, I didn’t know yet, were very New York City style), housed visual artists, co-op galleries, architects, photography studios, and this acting workshop.
The classes were amazing — a mixture of Michael Chekhov’s work and Sandy Meisner’s technique. Robert Cordier was intro- ducing about twenty-five young actors to acting, teaching us the use of the body, voice and emotions by stretching imagination and emotional response. Robert taught me everything I know: how to set an objective and to prepare, how to start a scene with a basic emotional state, how to use a physical movement to create an emotional response, how to warm up, focus, and use the body to influence the mind.
We would do many exercises from the Michael Chekhov technique, such as “Molding, Floating, Flying and Radiating,” which I will develop further later on. We learned the psychological gesture and the physicalization of action, both of which I still use today and have developed in the energetic realm. We would work on all the basic principles that an actor needs to know, which Cordier called, “Who, Where, What?” Define who your character is, where you are, and what you want (your objective) before you start the scene. I read Stanislavski, An Actor Prepares, and explored the reality of each scene. He gave us the twelve guideposts of Michael Shurtleff, explaining to us how to work with opposites and urgency. He asked us the essential questions: “Where is the love right now in this scene?” “What are you afraid of right now?” “What can hurt you right now?” He told us about the continuum between Love and Hate, the polar opposites within each emotion (which I discovered later is the basis of energy work), taught us how to create an emotional state by using the environment around us and our imagination, and trained us to go “moment to moment” in a scene.
Cordier’s alumni are found all over the professional theatre and film world. At L’Atelier Robert Cordier I met Xavier Durringer, who became one of the most translated and published French playwrights of his time, and Gérald Laroche, a character actor who won several prestigious awards later on. Xavier and I became close friends and started working on scenes together. He read to me his first script, which he called La Pleureuse, and later on offered me a part in his first play.
Cordier was not only fascinating while telling us the stories of his life in New York, he was extremely competent and definitely giving a thorough, exciting, and in-depth training. All of this was done with utmost love and support, even when he was pushing us beyond our limits. He was never condescending like other acting teachers can be. He was a loving father figure to all of us.
This was my Lesson #1: Suffering is not necessary to do good work. You can achieve wonderful creative results with love and support."
Right now Robert Cordier is needing our help and support, as he is laid off and kicked out of his very own school, the one he founded, along with all the professors who are supporting him. Please sign the petition in his support.
Visit this facebook page: to support himhttp://www.soutienrobertcordier.com/
English translation of the petition:
For the immediate reinstatement of Robert Cordier!
This summer 2012, Robert Cordier, founder of the school Acting International, has been unceremoniously excluded from school he had established.
We condemn the eviction of a man, Robert Cordier, armed with a rich experience for all of us and whose love of art and teachings don't need to be proven, and we refuse to accept the mercantile and moneymaking philosophy that may take the direction of the school! The forced departure of Robert Cordier announces for us detrimental changes to the foundation of the school which were the basis of its reputation:
"The teaching concept of Acting International, unique in its completeness and innovative approach, has been developed there over thirty years ago by the founder of the school, teacher, director, producer and writer Robert Cordier. This educational activity and creation, with proven methods, constantly redefines itself through interaction and organic confrontation of complementary knowledge,–in their intersection in the schedule– of a team of renowned masters - French, Russian, American, English, Italian - which are all professional artists.
Acting International provides training to strengthen the creative potential as well as the artistic and human individuality of each student. At Acting International, the primacy is placed on the actor, through whom the scenic interpretation is realized. "
We are for the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of Robert Cordier at Acting International.
For the maintenance of all teachers from the previous year who want to stay and continue to give the school its guarantee of quality.
So that Acting International remains a quality school!
Emmanuelle Chaulet is an artist's coach and Lecturer in Theatre at the University of Southern Maine. Her technique ENERGIZE uses combinations of Michael Chekhov, Lee Strasberg, Voice Dialogue and Energy work.
She works in the USA during the year and in France during the summer months. She coaches performers privately in person, and via video conference Skype throughout the whole year.