The Texas Educational Theatre Association is having their annual conference this week. This event is bringing theatre students and faculty from colleges and high schools all over Texas here to Houston. Santry and I are taking advantage of the opportunity to visit our professors from McLennan Community Collge, where we both attended.
Jim Rambo was our primary mentor then. To me, he was the Yoda of acting ("You must unlearn what you have learned"*), and, at the end of my freshman year, I was Luke Skywalker -unable to lift the X-wing out of the swamp. At the time, we were doing a production of "Amadeus." I was 18, playing a middle-aged, aristocratic, music connoisseur, who hates Mozart. Yeah, that was about as difficult as telepathically pulling a spaceship out of a swamp. Wait actually, here's a picture...
That's me on the left. Alright...get a good laugh. Wow. That was...wow. That was...11 years ago? Wow.
Anyway, I got out of that phase of my training and decided to pull a "Return of the Jedi." I took a much needed break over the summer of '96 and came back dedicated and ready to finish training under Jim -training that heavily emphasized conquering fear and taking risks. In the spring of '97, I finished my stint at McLennan in his production of "The Elephant Man." To this day, that was one of my most rewarding experiences in theatre.
Jim was a great teacher to me. He is among those very rare acting teachers who actually want to teach and want their students to succeed. I've always looked up to him, and tried to emulate him -particularly in his temperment and dealings with actors.
* Note: Though this quote by Yoda was never explicitly stated by Jim, a great deal of his training was dedicated to breaking habbits and taking away "the bag of tricks" that actors develop.