Saturday, May 17th, 2014

COMING to Perth this July is Elizabeth Kemp, acting coach to Bradley Cooper – star of The Hangover trilogy, The A-Team and Silver Linings Playbook.

Perth’s The Actors’ Hub and Melbourne’s 16th Street Actors Studio are bringing Kemp to WA for a masterclass known as the Character Dream Workshop.

When Bradley Cooper appeared on Inside The Actors Studio in 2012, he offered thanks to Kemp as one of his teachers.

“I was never able to relax in my life before,” he said. “The most sacred experience I ever had was in [her class]. No question about it – she’s an incredible teacher.” (The interview can be viewed here

Kemp is associate artistic director of The Actors Studio, a New York-based organisation for professional actors, theatre directors and playwrights best known for its work refining and teaching method acting.

Founded in 1947, it is currently run by Al Pacino, Ellen Burstyn and Harvey Keitel – an actor Kemp still coaches.

“Her workshop, which she has formed and conducts both within and outside of The Actors Studio, is extraordinary,” Keitel says.

“Her knowledge of the work has been demonstrated both on the stage and off, as a teacher and innovator, in the way she has conducted and further developed new aspects to add to the technique of acting employed in the dream workshop.

“I’d consider her one of the finest acting teachers around.”

Academy Award-winner Burstyn added: “Students love her [Kemp] and come away truly inspired and transformed.”

Australian actress Sigrid Thornton, recently seen in Perth as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, has also been coached by Kemp.

“Elizabeth has a really profound understanding of the essential link between the life of the person and the work of the actor,” she said. “I’m still basking in the afterglow of [her] extraordinary work.”

Kemp was one of the youngest members to be admitted to The Actors Studio and has been a life member since 1975.

She was in the original cast of the hit musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and had roles in TV’s LA Law andthirtysomething before finding her calling as a drama coach.

"I had learned a great lesson from a mentor, Elia Kazan [director of the films A Streetcar Named Desire and On The Waterfront],” she said on the same edition of Inside The Actors Studio.

“I only want to work with people who give everything they have to give and make their work the most important thing to them in their life.”

The Actors’ Hub director Amanda Crewes said being part of Kemp’s masterclass was a rare opportunity.

“It’s a great chance for actors, screenwriters, directors and people genuinely interested in the actor’s process,” she said.

The masterclass runs July 14 to 19 in Perth – go to to apply.

The Actors’ Hub is located at the Subiaco Arts Centre, 180 Hamersley Road, Subiaco.



Elizabeth Kemp.jpg: Elizabeth Kemp, acting coach to The Hangover’s Bradley Cooper, will be in Perth this July to deliver a masterclass.

ekgrp.JPG: Elizabeth Kemp, associate artistic director at The Actors Studio in New York, takes a group of actors through their paces.



Elizabeth Kemp was born in Key West Florida, the daughter of a Navy Officer and Test Pilot who was stationed at the Pentagon. Kemp showed talent as child painter from the ages of 13 to 16, traveling to the Rhode Island School of Designat 16 but was told to wait a year. She instead went to New York City and studied at The Art Students League and American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Kemp was in the original cast of "The Best Little Whorehouse" in Texas, which began at the The Actors Studio. Her great mentor, Elia Kazan, took Tennessee Williams to see Kemp in this production; Williams was looking for the actress to playBaby Doll in the world premiere of one of his last plays, Tiger Tail. After the performance Williams gave her the part; an experience that proved to be most extraordinary, in that she worked closely with Tennessee Williams daily in developing the role. Kemp's career has included playing opposite Christopher ReeveTom Hanks and Kevin Kline.

As a director Kemp was responsible for many productions at The Actors Studio including The Glass MenagerieThe Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh and the world premier of Free Gift Inside by Edward Allan Baker. Kemp also directed the 2013 production of Waiting For Godot.

Elizabeth has been a member of The Actors Studio for over 20 years. There, she has served as the Liaison to the President- Arthur Penn, Chairman of the Audition Committee as well as serving on the Members Committee. She has moderated sessions at The Studio, where moderators have included Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan, Arthur Penn, Ellen Burstyn, Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, Shelley Winters, Al Pacino, and Harvey Keitel. Kemp currently serves as Associate Artistic Director the of The Actors Studio, alongside Artistic Director Ellen Burstyn. Kemp also serves on the board of The Actors Studio, alongside Al PacinoHarvey KeitelEllen BurstynMelissa Leo.

Elizabeth became a Lifetime Member of The Actors Studio in 1975.

Elizabeth is the chair of the Acting Faculty at The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University having been a member of the Acting Faculty of MFA Program since its inaugural year in 1994. In addition, she has also taught at the Lee Strasberg Institute, Susan Batson’s Black Nexxus as well as workshops in New York, Athens, Zurich, Paris, Berlin and Rome.


She's a striking woman, with large blue eyes, full lips and a head of blond hair that looks like it has just emerged from the shower. At times her conversation threatens to float off into the mystical, with talk of connections and destinies, but there's a steel in her voice. She knows what she's doing. She's been in the game for more than 40 years.

She was once like her students: young, uncertain, a little scared. She had some moments of acting glory -- part of the original cast of the hit musical "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," roles in "L.A. Law" and "thirtysomething" -- and then hit a wall. It would change her life -- and the lives of other actors.

Kemp's journey began in high school. A Navy brat, she was set on becoming a painter until a teacher, Donald Cox, inspired her to try acting. She was designing sets and working behind the scenes when Cox suggested she go in front of the audience. A role in "Look Homeward, Angel" as the 60-something Eliza Gant was the turning point.

"It was as if I'd become someone else," she said. She experienced a fundamental shift inside, not just a role on stage, and the emotion was so strong that Kemp says she "came off stage with tears streaming down my face." Cox gave her a copy of the acting bible, "An Actor Prepares," as she left for acting school in New York.

Kemp soon joined The Actors Studio, then as now one of the leading dramatic academies in the country. She says it was the art that drove her, not the limelight: "My inclination was never about myself as a package. ... I wasn't ambitious in that kind of 'I've got to network and schmooze' way."

In the mid-'70s, Kemp was being considered for a role in the film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel "The Last Tycoon." Kazan would direct, Robert De Niro would star, and Kemp was being considered for a major role. But there was a problem: Sam Spiegel, the film's producer, wanted Kemp to submit to the casting couch. Aside from co-starring with Tom Hanks in his first movie, 1980's "He Knows You're Alone," Kemp spent much of the '80s doing stage work. Toward the end of the decade she moved to Los Angeles, earning steady jobs in TV movies and one-shot guest spots.

Then came a major role on NBC's "L.A. Law" as a love interest of Amanda Donohoe's bisexual character, C.J. Lamb. At a time when female homosexuality was practically unknown on prime-time television, Kemp says there were plans for a multi-episode arc. But the story line was controversial. Kemp's character appeared on just one episode.

The "L.A. Law" incident was "sort of that last thing," says Kemp. After a divorce and a lack of professional fulfillment, she decided she'd had enough of Southern California. She moved back to New York.

"I was just going to go work in a restaurant -- I think I was there for one day busing tables or something -- and I walked into the Strasberg Institute [acting school] and I said, 'Do you think I could teach?' And they said, 'Sure.' "

The same day, she recalls, she saw a license plate on 57th Street: "I TEACH." "Another sign," she says.

One class led to others, and one day she ran into an Actors Studio acquaintance who suggested she teach at the Studio's new graduate program. She had found a new career, for which she's quick to credit others -- Kazan, legendary acting coaches Lee Strasberg and Sandra Seacat, director Arthur Penn, current Actors Studio head Ellen Burstyn -- for her success.

"I loved it. It made me feel whole, and inspired, and connected," she says.

Elizabeth Kemp, who studied for seven years under Mr. Strasberg at the Actors Studio, began incorporating dream work into her coaching, directing and acting in the early 1990s, after training at the C. G. Jung Institute in New York. “The results from working with dreams were extraordinary,” said Ms. Kemp, chairwoman of the acting department at the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University.

She coaches Mr. Keitel and has been teaching dream workshops at the Actors Studio for about six years.

“In the Method, we revisit something we lived through,” she said. “But there are still pockets in the unconscious or the psyche that have a residue of feelings, feelings that have not at all been expressed in life.”


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The Actors' Hub

"It has long been recognised that without a permanent company few actors can thrive indefinitely. The art of acting is in some ways the most exacting art of all, and without constant schooling, the actor will stop halfway." (Peter Brook)

In response to this understanding, we have established The Actors’ Hub, a new centre for excellence in performing arts.

The Actors' Hub provides ongoing support for actors to develop their skills whether they are currently working within the industry or working their way into the industry.

It is our aim at The Actors’ Hub to keep our work relevant and in response to current industry trends, demands and opportunities.

Amanda Crewes
M: 0400 025 079


Elizabeth Kemp masterclass Character Dream Workshop The Actors' Hub 16th Street Actors Studio Bradley Cooper The Hangover Inside The Actors Studio Al Pacino Ellen Burstyn Harvey Keitel Perth WA Western Australia Sigrid Thornton Subiaco stage TV film



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