A group of well-established local actors have pooled their talents to start a mentorship program in Gastown called the Lyric. Together, they’ve moved into a 2,300-square-foot space across from the Old Spaghetti Factory on Water Street, with the first bunch of acting students helping to finish the floors and walls of the building.
“This is something that all of us on the board of directors have longed for for a long time—a place where we’d like to study,” said Kate Twa, who, with Michèle Lonsdale Smith, is helming the Lyric project. “We want to keep it small so it’s not a factory situation.”
Twa and her colleagues all met at the then-small, and recently closed, Gastown Actors Studio back when it opened in the early ’90s under Mel Tuck. Twa said she and Lonsdale Smith are modelling the Lyric on that experience, as well as on actors’ groups like Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater Company. Month-long classes at the new facility are limited to 12 people and guide intermediate and advanced actors through specialized acting methods as well as preparing them for theatre, film, and TV auditions. Twa stressed the program is not aimed at beginners. The Lyric includes such mentors as Nancy Sivak, Ben Ratner, and Nicholas Lea. Directors, casting directors, agents, and others are also being brought in to observe actors and give advice, Twa added. The building houses a fully equipped camera studio for audition workouts, casting-director workshops, and videotaping acting exercises, as well as a studio for intermediate classes and one for advanced classes. The demand for such a program seems to be out there: Twa and Lonsdale Smith’s classes for July are already full. The Lyric’s phone number is 604-685-0752.