By Angela Romeo
It is hard not to mention the Coachella Valley Repertory and CV Rep Conservatory when discussing the arts in the Coachella Valley. The CV Rep continues to enhance its reputation for live theater. CV Rep Conservatory, a division of the CV Rep Theater brings an exciting roster of classes to the mix.
The CV Rep was formed in 2008 under the leadership of Ron Celona and Gary D. Hall. The theater has consistently produced well-received plays. The 2015-2016 opened to rave reviews with the world premiere of Happy Hour by George Eastman and starred Gavin MacLeod. The rest of the season includes A CLASS ACT – Music & Lyrics by Edward Kleban, Book by Linda Kline and Lonny Price, I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright and 4000 MILES by Amy Herzog.
Andy Harmon is one of several instructors teaching at the CV Rep Conservatory. Andy teaches improvisational and acting methods. In addition he mentors a writers group. His students return session after session because of Andy’s enthusiasm and genuine concern for nurturing their talents.
“All people, from CEOs to baristas to actors, everyone faces what I call the four crisis. I identify these as the Crisis of Disruption, the Crisis of Direction, the Crisis of Commitment and the Crisis of Transformation. I outline these in my book, Change Journey – Voices of the Creative Quest. But these are crises we face every day,” said Andy. “When I lecture or teach, I am acting as the mentor or catalyst towards a change. For example, a CEO is faced with layoffs, budget cuts and must decide what or who can stay or go – the crisis of disruption. The CEO will look to what he knows and to his mentors for guidance Whether the CEO follows that or any advice is the crisis of direction. The CEO then must make choices – the crisis of commitment. The CEO can do many things including the option to do nothing. Once the CEO sets on that path the crisis of transformation occurs. Did the CEO’s action make him a hero or a pariah?”
“These are common everyday occurrences – some more or less dramatic. A creative person faces these with every work they create. The difference is once the creative person commits these crises to canvas, paper or the stage they are there for all to judge. As a teacher and mentor I try to help visualize and verbalize these dilemmas. In doing so, I hope to encourage the actor to be more truthful, the writers more engaging and the CEO more aware of the consequences.”
Andy’s classes are lively and well attended. “My students are eager to learn. At times, especially the writers’ group, they are seeking a safe haven to present their works. We all face blocks – writer’s block, artistic block, moral blocks – and we often reach out for sounding boards. That is where I help.” Andy’s classes have been meeting for years at the CV Rep. “I offer introduction and advance classes. Our writers’ group performs Tales From the Twilight Café an evening of staged readings of original works, written by the participants of the Writer’s Workshop.”
Change Journey – Voices of the Creative Quest was born out of Andy’s mentoring skills. “I was invited to give a talk in Alaska to a group of writers. What evolved from that was this book. The concept of crisis, our need to be a hero or create heroes and our need to reach others are basic human concepts. I took not only my lecture but also the feedback of the students to create a concise, simple, straight forward approach to facing these crisis’s. I did not write a ‘how to’ or a ‘self-help’ book. My classes and lectures are no such thing. What I provide is a tool of guidance.”
“December 6, at the CV Rep, I discussed the themes of Change Journey. This was the first in a series of talks, by different speakers that I’m calling “The Craft.” Talks will focus on the craft of theatre and the creative arts. Speakers will be talking about their own stories of how they learned their craft and their own particular fascinations with their art form.”
“CV Rep commitment to education can be seen daily. They have expanded the education facility. The new Actor’s Conservatory, is already in use, is really wonderful and it will serve, not only as a classroom space for our current classes but additional classes including voice and dance – not taught by me needless to say!”
“More exciting is that it will also serve as a small performance space too! We’ll be hosting a “Twilight Salon” every month or two for readings of the work of our writers, open up possible actor’s showcases and a myriad of activities as yet to be decided – possibly a monthly Improv Night too! It’s going to be a great addition to the CV Rep!” noted Andy.
Having the Coachella Valley Repertory and Andy Harmon enhances what we already know – this valley believes in the arts!
For more about the CV Rep and CV Rep Conservatory visit cvrep.org. For more about Andy Harmon visit the actorsmind.com. For more about Change Journey – Voices of the Creative Quest visit www.amazon.com/Change-Journey-Voices-Creative-Quest.