For more opportunities to work with guest teachers curated by Heidi, check out the Acting Collective.
Center your self-identity and speak your truth: find the missing link between your authentic “inner melody” and your on-camera presence so that you look, sound, and feel your most empowered.
(Re)claim your storyteller identity and your sense of agency by learning a jazz-inspired approach to listening and embodying spoken text. Work on heightened text through a lens of musical and rhythmic improvisation, and redirect your gaze away from colonialist patterns towards one of self-identity.
In this 1-day workshop, focus on getting the text into your body so that the camera captures your fully embodied presence, in wide shots and in closeups! Understand what it means to be “in harmony” with the camera at all times.
This workshop reinforces your own self-expression and redirects your gaze away from a European/colonialist approach towards one of self-identity instead.
You’ll be led by Tré through exercises in scoring the text so that your preparation for auditions and performances is deeper and more thorough than before. Dive into an improvisational exploration using music and rhythm. Look at transitions of thoughts, how to break down the script, what the words offer, when a thought is at “rest” or “half rest,” and when it’s sustained and continued. August Wilson and Shakespeare, for example, show us how thoughts can go in so many directions. Capture all those directions in your on-camera performance so that your presence jumps out and radiates!
The work is influenced by jazz, August Wilson, Shakespeare, Linklater, Suzuki and Alexander Techniques.
P.S.—Tré’s video introduction is below under + WATCH!
This workshop is for the actor-storyteller who is searching for a missing link between their “authentic melody” and their presence on camera. As we create fully realized characters, it starts with the authentic melody of each storyteller. Take a leap into an improvisatory approach with Tré, and see what happens when you dive into text by way of musical improvisation. We dare you to let go of any expectations!
The actor-storyteller who wants to invite the camera in and also form a stronger relationship with their self-identity will find this workshop to be an inspired and useful exploration. All actor-storytellers are welcome.
After graduating from The University of Washington’s MFA- Acting program, Tré has been touring the country and the world re-examining and redefining his own voice teaching approach that he has titled, “Freeing the Black and Indigenous Voice: Where does the music of a people meet with heightened text?” Tré has been seen on stages spanning across North America as a performer. He has recently been acknowledged in the New York and Los Angeles Times for his work as Dialect Coach for Regina King’s Directorial debut, One Night in Miami, where he coached Leslie Odom Jr. in his Academy Award-Nominated performance as the legendary Sam Cooke. He is a proud native of Clayton, NC.
Tre’s methodology is designed to decolonize the way heightened text is approached in the performing arts where Jazz and Hip-Hop coexist in the same world with the work of William Shakespeare. Too often, BIPOC storytellers are asked to use European approaches and techniques to truthfully live in imaginary circumstances. This work not only focuses on the musical identity of a culture, but it reads down the dance between the Breath and the Thought by using the language of music as a template. The goal is to push forward and expand the palate of storytelling by, as Toni Morrison so boldly and eloquently teaches us, “[making] sure that the white gaze not the dominant one.”
Watch for inspiration.
Tré was featured in a N.Y. Times article, “How Should Black People Sound? | Hollywood’s New Dialect Coaches Address Racism”
Tré Cotten got his big film industry break this year in “One Night in Miami,” the first feature directed by Regina King. Mr. Cotten is an expert in voice and speech training and a self-described “research nerd,” adept at seeking out audio recordings and other materials to identify the habits that make a character’s language unique.
He was eminently qualified to help the actor Eli Goree, who plays Cassius Clay in the film, reproduce the rhythms and tones of the boxer’s Louisville sound. Yet many crew members were surprised to see a Black man doing this kind of work — even on a film that recounts an imagined meeting between Malcolm X, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and the man who would become Muhammad Ali, and which was written, directed and cast by Black people.
[…] “My phone’s been busy,” Mr. Cotten said recently, describing the coaching he’s been able to do via Zoom. “And that’s good, but I want to make sure that I’m not the only one out there. One of the most repressed things for Black people in this country has been our voice. Right now, we’re seeing if we can really find our voice, at this time, and this specific moment, to specifically tell this story — this beautiful thing — the way the team wants it to be told.”
What was a difficult challenge for you as an actor?
My authentic voice.
What was a crazy or silly moment on set?
Working with Regina King.
What is the most important quality or skill for an actor in the audition room?
Breathing, Listening, Attention to the details and making a choice.
What is the main thing you wish you knew then but that you only understand now?
Make it about the work.
What frustrates you as an actor in the current climate of filmmaking or of the business at large?
The Global Majority of Artists given opportunities, but not the resources to succeed once in the room of opportunity.
What moment or experience as an artist do you feel most proud of?
The moment before because in the moments before its between myself and the Source.
Who do you really look up to in your field and why?
In my field, I look up to the actors who approach the work with bravery with each story they tell.
Why did you choose THIS class to teach?
Heidi’s and my belief in what she is doing in educating storytellers and how it relates to the screen particularly.
Tré is really lovely and positive. It was fun to see what I could come up with on borrowed time (improv). I loved adding music to the monologue and noticing how it changed my inflection in the straight read.
I’m finally in a good place with my training that I’m not afraid to reveal my talents to people and make mistakes in the process of revelation. How Liberating!!!!
Love the musicality of the lesson.
[…] Loved how lots of us were working with heightened text typically played by white actors, but when you add other kinds of music to it, it can feel more belonging in that space.
I found the class interesting & inspiring. I liked the teacher’s warmth and respect for the virtual class space & where each person was coming from.
That class with Tré was everything.
I learned so much and made some really vital discoveries. Music is life, and can add such depth to my character work. Tré was so supportive and I felt like I could try any and everything in his class…Wow, I’m very grateful to you both! Thank you so much!!
I feel like I gained new tools regarding the way rhythm and songs can be used in rehearsal and ultimately affect the character and/or monologue
Full disclosure — please note that we do not guarantee that actors in these classes or workshops will be hired for any project that we might direct, produce, or cast. We teach and coach because we enjoy supporting and nurturing actors as you develop your personal process for auditioning, working and creating your own work.