Workshops, Master Class, Residencies, Consulting

Available to schools, theaters, colleges, businesses, festivals, conventions

Classes are flexible to your needs: 1 hour, full day, master class, week-long seminar, or extended Visiting Artist residency. Fees are variable: contact me for pricing and further information.

1. The Rhetoric of Gesture

This master class investigates the realm of daily expression that is nonverbal, including gesture, posture, physical attitude, space, projection, and other modes of signaling and reading body language.  Improving the understanding of both unconscious and intentional physical cues as a means to better communication is an objective of this work.

This class is valuable for teachers, therapists, doctors, actors, executives, and high school/college students. I was originally invited to address a high school Rhetoric class to improve public speaking skills, and the workshop has since been expanded for actors, dancers, and nonprofessionals. (For adults: high school to professional.)

2. Mime

a) Classical Pantomime

Master class introducing the Marcel Marceau style and Etienne Decroux Mime Technique.  Decroux created a stylized system of movement popularized by his student Marceau. Foundations of the Decroux system are taught, with a focus on pantomime acting and use of gesture for the speaking actor. The class is an exploration of movement, perception, spatial awareness, and the physics of space—with magic and circus tricks adding levity to the gravity. (Adults: high school to professional.)

b) Adventures in Mime and Space 

This is a full day or weekend seminar exploring imaginative movement, metaphoric magic, and mystical mime. This takes mime to another level—off the stage and into new perceptions.  Explored in playful ways are states of consciousness, dowsing, magic, body awareness, and dynamics of energy through movement. Elements of classical pantomime are the basis for this journey, but the voyage takes off from there into esoteric realms, including exercises with the Eight Modes of Resonance (Geometric, Kinetic, Conceptual, Synesthetic, Intuitive, Temporal, Reflective, Cognitive).

As Marceau often said, "In mime, the invisible becomes visible, and the visible invisible." Transmission of thought and feeling is through the agent of movement and gesture; silence becomes corporeal. The point of power from which this "magnetic halo" (Jean-Louis Barrault) is projected—the starting point—is Silence.

(For adults: retreat and yoga centers; acting and movement students)

3. Silent Acting: The Forgotten Art of Silent Theater

This seminar is an introduction to the variety of the silent cinema and the power of its theatrical acting style. With access to a library of over 200 silent films, this is a natural follow-up to the illustrated history lecture SILENTS ARE GOLDEN. Silent film clips are used to enhance a class in silent theater acting. The guest residency can be from one day or one week seminar to a semester-long course. Topics in silent theater acting include the grammar of physical expression, projection of thought and mood, and conventions of classical pantomime. For theater students, there is a focus on creating original comedy and dramatic nonverbal scenarios, and playing solo and group silent scenes. (High school to professional; film and theater departments.)

4. Clowning for Traditional Circus

This class explores old-time gags, partner and solo routines, and character development from European clown tradition, combined with classic American knockabout and slapstick physical comedy. My mentors in the European circuses were the great clowns Francesco, Ernesto, and Enrico Caroli, Charlie Rivel, Karl Kossmayer, Joe Jackson, Jr., Buby Ernesto and others. Basic tricks of the trade are placed in the context of historical CIRCUS clowning. (For professional performers—and silly people.)

5. Tricks with Stuff (90 minutes)

Impromptu Magic, Tricks, Stunts, Diversions, and Amusements With Simple Stuff.

This class is an extension of the Grandpa's Sleeve impromptu MAGIC workshop for grownups.  We take everyday objects like paper, pencils, napkins, rubber bands, money, and stuff at the dinner table—and learn unusual and cool things to do with them!  What things? Absolutely useless things—except for the purposes of being silly, making laughter, generating wonder, having fun, and perceiving the world and all its objects as having peculiar and wonderful hidden talents! Tricks of science and the imagination are explored and explained. Not just for grownups this time: great for adults and kids to do together! (For elementary schools, too)

6. Magic for Actors (2 hrs)

"A Magician is an Actor playing the role of a Magician."   ~ Robert-Houdin

Participants will learn the techniques of several basic magic tricks. Then the fun begins: the trick becomes less important than the actor's presentation of it, as each participant--in the role of a magician-- improvises a scene performing the trick for the group. Do you create a story around the trick? Do you find the metaphor? How do you, the actor, use words, timing, and gesture to "sell" the trick effectively? 

(For ages 13 to adult. Beginners magic class for 8-12 also available)

7. Executive Tricks

A version of Grandpa's Sleeve Magic workshop designed specifically for business executives, corporate management, staff and teachers!  Impromptu tricks with objects in the office can provide more than mere amusement. Many tricks will be useful in speeches and Board and staff meetings to illustrate key points of importance with humor and wit. For example:

Sample of Stuffy Topics illustrated by Simple Tricks with Stuff:

  • The Power of Specific Vision
  • The Power of Knowledgeable Focus
  • The Power of Suggestion
  • Perspective From Bottom Up/Top Down
  • Multi-Tasking
  • Influence
  • Problem Solving
  • Clarity of Communication
  • Manipulation, Anticipation, Expectation...and more.

9. Dowsing

An introductory hands-on workshop to the ancient practice of finding things with rods, sticks, pendulums, and other objects. Click DOWSING for more information.

10. Bubbleology

How to make astonishing sculptures with soap bubbles; a hands-on wet workshop. For kids and growns alike. A follow-up workshop to Bubble Bros. Soap Suds Circus show. Click BUBBLES.

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I have lectured and taught and played with groups as diverse as the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business Executive MBA Program, The Lake Forest College Entrepreneur Club, Gallaudet College for the Deaf, the Upper Valley Inventor's Club, Dartmouth College Theater Dept, University of Copenhagen, Elder Hostel seminars, Parent/Teacher conventions, Circus Historical Societies, international university theater departments, film festivals, youth circuses, schools, camps, libraries, pubs, prisons, halfway houses, hospitals, elderly homes, refugee camps, and orphanages worldwide. There is no end to playing, and always a need for relief through fun.

"Thank you, Rob. Nowhere else have I found the same fulfillment, the physical, emotional, and mental effort directed towards art and joy, rather than competition."

T.A., Smirkus '96

"Rob, you are a dream maker and dream fulfiller.  What you do is a gift of happiness, life, love, friendship and hope--a true antidote to cynicism." 

— D.B., smirkus '96