Have your ever been intrigued by what makes a star? At ABS-CBN, they have a circle of stars launched by batch which they call Star Magic. These dreamers go on to become the brightest and most successful actors of their generation. Behind their success are their #blessed DNA and acting skill developed and improved through a series of workshops headed Direk Rahyan Carlos – the only one in the Philippines who has undergone an intensive teacher-training program with Ivana Chubbuck!
Ivana Chubbuck is an acting coach known as the “celebrity whisperer”. Notable students include: Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Jim Carrey and the queen Bey. She is one of the most in-demand acting coaches in the industry. Her book, The Power of the Actor is a 12-step guide in script analysis.
On the 6th floor of ABS-CBN Compound’s DTC Building, you will find multiple rooms with class schedules for acting, singing, and dancing workshops. The workshop goes on 3x a year and is open to anyone who wishes to be trained by the same trainers of today’s stars. For this post, I’ll be focusing on the acting workshop which I have experienced.
The acting workshop consists of 3-4 levels of training: Intro, Advanced 1/Advanced 2, and Masterclass. I say 3-4 because, after Advanced 1, those who passed can try to audition for Masterclass and those who couldn’t make it to Masterclass, take the Advanced 2 course.
Yes, there is a pass/fail element here. Each level culminates with a recital at the Dolphy Theater where the students will be paired off or put in a group, and given a scene to perform. The pass/fail status of a workshopper depends on two factors: attendance and performance. A student who fails, cannot enroll for the next level.
Classes meet for about 18 sessions (including the recital day) over the course of 4 months, each session lasts 4 hours, and there is only one session a week. Depending on your section (yes, there are options because there is a limit number of students per section), you could have an afternoon class or an evening class.
The first few days of Intro class consisted of getting-to-know-you activities and small exercises given by Sir Bodjie Pascua of Batibot fame. After 2-3 sessions with Kuya Bodjie, Direk Rahyan takes over and begins with a book assignment. The core of Star Magic Acting Workshop is the book entitled Power of the Actor by Ivana Chubbuck. Students are advised to secure a copy of the book or find a pdf, read it end to end, and come to class prepared.
At times, there will be guest teachers such as Miss Lynette Concepcion and comedian Miss Rubi-Rubi.
Intro class slowly takes the student from the first chapter to the final chapter of the book by assigning a pair with a scene to be presented to class on the next meeting, complete with props. Each scene runs on average 10-20 minutes and is followed by a critique or a do-over instruction by Direk Rahyan. Students are expected to have memorized the lines, seen the actual movie where the scene is from, and rehearsed this for at least 8 hours. After each successful presentation, the students are shuffled to create another pair and scene for the next meeting.
In advanced and masterclass, students are expected to have read and understood the book by heart. Expectations are higher and the workload is heavier as Direk Rahyan criticizes each nuance of a student’s acting. Students are expected to bring their scripts with markings of the 12-step script analysis based on the book. Shedding a tear doesn’t equate to being a good actor. Rather, Direk Rahyan looks for the real source of pain and brings it out of each student. You’ll be surprised how a single line or even word in a script can lead to a paragraph of analysis.
As a student, I always leave the class tired and feeling gloomy because of the emotional workout. Acting, after all, is not easy.
Other activities include by-invitation only viewing of masterclass students’ presentation during their class hours. It allows you to have insights on how to better portray your role (as some scenes are recycled between all class levels, depending on the strength of the student).
There is a Facebook group exclusively for workshoppers, managed by Star Magic Workshop staff where the moderator regularly posts auditions and casting calls. Here, students find easy access to often-closed auditions and selective castings. I have classmates who have gone on to participate in different movies and tv series.
For more information, go to their Facebook page: Star Magic Workshops
I took the Intro Workshop a couple of months after my Beginning Acting at CCP. Immediately after passing Intro Class, I enrolled for the Advanced 1 simultaneously with my Rehearsals to Performance Technique at CCP. I am pleased to have passed this level and qualified for the audition, however since the schedule clashes with my future theater plans and the fact that my budget doesn’t fit, I couldn’t try for Masterclass. Maybe someday I will be able to complete this.
My overall experience in the workshop improved my acting in general. While tv acting is different from theater acting in the loudness of the voice, the grandness of gestures, and the overall feel, the 12-step script analysis by Chubbuck helped me understand my roles in both tv and theater more.
In this workshop, you’ll definitely meet different people. Some are the kind you won’t expect to be genuine, some are plastics who would do anything to reach their goals, some are fleeting ‘friendships’. This experience will make you grow not just as an actor, but as a person. The challenges you’ll face in this workshop will add to your life experience which you can use to empower yourself as an actor.
I suggest this workshop to any aspiring actor. In fact, try to take workshops from different groups. I intend on trying PETA and Repertory if I have the time. Aside from widening my network and meeting new people, different groups have different signature styles that may just help shape your acting technique.