In the Loop
Student Stories : Jun 11, 2015

Actor Jordan Belfi hosts master class with School of Theatre + Dance students

By Tyler McLennan

On Thursday, June 4, 2015, UF School of Theatre and Dance students had the opportunity to participate in a master class on audition reading with actor Jordan Belfi. Belfi, best known for his work on HBO’s hit series Entourage, has also appeared in various other series including Burn Notice, Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, to name a few.

Belfi is visiting the University of Florida as part of the four-week workshop series of the new musical Volleygirls, where he is working alongside his colleagues Neil Patrick Stewart and Monica Raymund as assistant director of the show. In the master class, Belfi spoke about the many aspects that encompass an audition for film. It is much more than the reading of a script and portraying the scene depicted, he said. “As performers, you have to establish the tight set of inner circumstances and the rest of the performance will manifest itself automatically.”

The workshop-style class provided students with various tips and advice regarding audition preparation and working on camera.

“What happens in the scene is not necessarily what it’s about,” Belfi said, explaining that it is the actor’s job to reproduce real behavior versus simulating it. It is the actor’s job to tell one story in one look. This is especially true when working on camera where inner life is key. “Inner life is one of the keys because of the ability of this medium to have a close up. We don’t have this ability on stage.”

At the beginning of the class, students were given a script from a Grey’s Anatomy scene. Belfi then led an open discussion on students’ interpretations on what the scene was about. Then, students volunteered to act out the scene one after the other. This was an insightful process for the students and gave them the opportunity to see different interpretations of the same script, while giving the actors a chance to learn and grow from one another’s performances.

Two of the students who performed the Grey’s Anatomy scene were Kacey Musson, a BFA Acting student, and Sean Cancellieri (MFA Performance ’15). “The class was focused on bringing a part of yourself into the camera and, in doing that, creating a world that you can live in within the audition space,” said Musson.

Cancellieri, a recent School of Theatre and Dance graduate, felt similarly. “I found the class to be fairly immersive and nice to rekindle those skills in front of the camera,” he said. “It’s very different from being on stage. It's hyper-reality, very specific and you have to go even further into character.”

In regards to Volleygirls being on stage in the school's Black Box Theatre June 11-14, Belfi said he is excited about the show.

“We really believe in the show and what it’s about,” said Belfi. “The show fights for the powers of good. It has a spirit that is uplifting, transpiring and transcendent—it's the perfect mirror of what it means to be brave and vulnerable.”