'We help actors overcome their fears'
Crespi argues that preparing actors for a play or TV part is about providing them with specific tools the director can take advantage of and that they can use throughout their career
What does an acting coach do?
Our job consists in promoting the different aspects and potential of an actor, either to give more relevance to a character they need to create or one that already exists. Coaching is usually a tool to help actors get rid of fears, to help them overcome challenges. We work with knowledge actors already have.
Which actors have you worked with?
Nausicaa Bonnín, we built her character for Tres dies amb la família. We had to draw out the maximum emotional possibilities of her character. And Jaume Madaula for a TV3 series.
Can your job as a coach clash with the director’s job?
We do coaching after actors have already worked with the script. Coaching offers actors a basis, some background to make them feel comfortable. We give them tools that directors can use later. We don’t interfere in the director’s job. In any case, it’s the actors who help them to create characters. Every character has a past that gets them to where they are. If we understand that, then we will better understand why they react in a certain way.
Is that an American way of doing things?
Yes, many directors perceive the work we do as a technical contribution. Actors have already prepared their part, they already know their work well. It’s true that in our culture, directors like to work with actors more than in other cultures.
Is this preparation more addressed to cinema than theatre?
In theatre, we prepare castings so that actors have the most resources possible available to them. In theatre there is time for rehearsals, it’s a process that matures slowly. After the premiere, actors feel increasingly more comfortable, there’s more fluidity, they find solutions for possible slip-ups they might have had during the first shows. TV and cinema are brief moments, you have to do a lot of work beforehand.
Are some theatre schools better than others?
Each school has its own methods, but they are all about the same idea, which is acting. When you are talented, you create your own method, which is a sum of all the other methods. After being an actor myself, I became a theatre teacher and there are quite a few actors who tell me they still use the tools I taught them. It’s like putting a puzzle together.
There are situations when an actor becomes famous in a TV series and then does a play. The audience goes to see her but they’re disappointed because she isn’t the character they love on TV.
It happened with Mont Plans, when she was doing a TV programme with Jordi González and then did Chaise longue. Maybe it wasn’t what the audience was expecting, but we need to take advantage of all available tools to attract audiences to the theatre.
How is it possible for the members of T de teatre company, for instance, to finish with the Jet Lag series and then be asked to do monologues, something they haven’t done for decades?
Sometimes it’s hard to connect with the audience. But artists have the right to grow and transform a show. It happens in theatre as well as in other disciplines, such as the plastic arts. I would say that the most successful shows are the ones with less content, because they provide audiences with satisfaction on multiple levels .
How is your work as an acting coach different to other jobs you have done?
To start with, it’s not a desk job. It always involves physical work. All of an actor’s expression must necessarily go through physical work.
From actor to coach
The path Crespi has trodden from acting and spontaneous characterisation to coaching has been a long one. After working with La Cubana on the marathon run of Teresines SA at the Teatre Coliseum in Barcelona, he was a scriptwriter for television and then started teaching theatre, including in the US. Still an actor with great comic potential, he occasionally returns to the stage with companies he creates himself. Crespi’s curiosity also extends to other fields, such as magic, which he alternates with clown work. And now he can add acting coach to the list.
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