My work in Shakespeare is based off of the First Folio technique. There was no director during Shakespeare’s time to help the actors interpret the text and shape the actor’s performance. It is believed that once Shakespeare completed the play the actors rehearsed for three days before it was performed for a paying audience. Therefore, any acting notes Shakespeare wanted the actors to know he put into how he wrote the lines, providing a veritable treasure chest for anyone delving into his plays. If he wanted to give his actors clues that something emotional is going on in a scene he would break the iambic pentameter and would write lines with up to fourteen syllables. The use of alliteration was not only a poetic tool and something to help the audience visualize what was happening, but it also helped the actors to memorize quickly knowing that a line of text had similar sounds. These, as well as many other tools, can help the student dig deeper into Shakespeare’s text and unlock deeper meanings that are below the surface.
COLLEGE AUDITION COACHING
I have had numerous experiences privately audition coaching BFA/MFA candidates. While my background is in First Folio Shakespeare, I use that technique to also help inform the students work in contemporary monologues. I also have had a personal experience in auditioning for MFA programs, attended Rutgers’ MFA acting program and graduate school at New York University. I shape my teaching to the personal need of the student, and how they know they work the best. I have worked with prospective college students through teaching at the Folger Shakespeare Library, George Street Playhouse and Azusa Pacific University. Now I am offering private services to help students prepare to give their best audition. A good coach is by no means a guarantee of admission, but a bad coach could easily help you land in the rejection pile.
The first session is spent in table work learning techniques of the First Folio, showing the client tools that can be used to enhance a performance. If monologues have not been selected, time is taken to explore good options. Clients are encouraged to bring monologues of interest to the first session. The following sessions are on their feet exploring textual and physical attributes to make the monologues performance ready. A significant time is taken between session one and two for the client to memorize the monologues, so that the work on one’s feet is most productive.
ONLINE VIDEO COACHING
Not in Los Angeles? I can still help you. I have created an online program that uses the features of Skype and video services like YouTube and Vimeo. We set-up a time to talk over the phone, and then the client records their monologues and we spend sessions reviewing the videos. The client can then take the notes and re-record the videos for future sessions.
ACCEPTED INTO THE BRITISH ACADEMY OF DRAMATIC ARTS!! Dennis taught me that working on Shakespeare requires an understanding of not only the character, but that there is a technicality to Shakespeare’s writing that is just as important to know. For example, breaking down the text, breathing, and rhythm. From the moment we started he immediately gave me an approach, something that was needed for someone who had never studied Shakespeare in his life! If it wasn’t for Dennis’s coaching, his honest evaluations, and intense passion. I would not have been accepted into the program. If you are new to Shakespeare and you have an audition or your simply just curious to learn more about Shakespeare’s plays. Dennis is your guy! Thank you for teaching me that there is more to Shakespeare than meets the eye. – Elijah Cook
ACCEPTED INTO SARAH LAWRENCE!! “Dennis was a crucial part of my preparation for MFA auditions. He helped me break down the text and understand Shakespeare in ways I never had before, and found really great pieces for me. We worked my pieces so thoroughly that I felt absolutely confident in my material, which drastically improved my performance! He also helped me re-examine material I already had and approach it in new ways. Our sessions were fun, informative, and really productive. I participated in the URTA auditions and received 10 follow up callbacks after my two minute audition- something I am absolutely certain was largely in part to the work I did with Dennis. Furthermore, I have already received offers of acceptance from three different MFA programs. Dennis is really passionate about what he does, and takes great care and consideration when coaching his students. He’s the best!” – Alli Kelly
BOOKED ROLE OF CELIA FOR SHAKESPEARE OC!! Working with Dennis was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in quite some time. I had two audition pieces I was working on for Shakespeare Orange County. I am one of the least knowledgeable people I know when it comes to Shakespeare, so I knew I had to get some help. I went into the coaching session thinking that I might not get very much from it or I might be difficult to work with due to my ignorance. However, I remember leaving that coaching session with a big fat smile on my face. I had not only understood everything that my characters were saying but they also finally came to life. Dennis was so much fun to work with and made me more excited about Shakespeare than I have ever been. I strolled into my audition bursting with confidence. THANK YOU DENNIS! You’re the number one coach on my list. – Cynthia Aldrich
ACCEPTED INTO LAMDA!! Dennis is a teacher who gives. His dedication, investment, passion and professionalism made our lessons efficient and they equipped me to do some of the best work I’ve ever done for my MFA audition. Dennis guides you from beginning to end but also endows you with enough knowledge to you make the most informed acting choices. Every session with Dennis challenged me to do my best work and every session I was thankful I had chosen him to help me with my audition material. Choosing Dennis to help you with your drama school audition monologues would be the best decision you could ever make. – Michelle N. Grey
Prior to working with Dennis I had absolutely NO experience with Shakespeare and was feeling a little overwhelmed with the idea of having to tackle a classical monologue for grad school auditions. However, after just our first meeting I walked away with a whole new appreciation for Shakespeare and a good grasp on how to go about preparing for my upcoming auditions. I really appreciated Dennis coming to our first meeting with worksheets and examples on how to understand iambic pentameter, this really helped me to be able to quickly make sense of the classical monologues I was considering for my auditions. I also was grateful that Dennis had so much theatrical experience and I trusted his opinions and suggestions when choosing and preparing my monologues. We met two more times running through the whole audition process, I valued his feedback and expertise very much! I went into each grad school audition feeling extremely confident and well prepared. I also now have a new found admiration for classical work and because of this experience have continued studying Shakespeare which has opened my mind and artistry to a whole new aspect of acting! – Corinne Nowicki
SKYPE SESSION Working with Dennis was very rewarding and refreshing. He helped me coach two contemporary monologues and two Shakespeare monologues. One of my contemporary monologues I have been doing for three years. It is my favorite monologue. However, some days the monologue worked really well and some days it didn’t. I told Dennis about this issue and we sat down and dissected the monologue. After we did this, my monologue was one hundred times better. I didn’t have to rely on emotion to make it believable. If it wasn’t for Dennis, this would have never been possible. He is a wonderful Shakespeare coach. I was very nervous about Shakespeare because it so difficult, however Dennis helped me get rid of these nerves. Instead, he made me feel in control of the choices I was making. I learned so much from him and gained so much confidence because of his lessons. One thing Dennis told me in one of my sessions was, “It doesn’t matter what the auditors think, it matters if you think you did well in the audition.” You never really hear that kind of feedback. THANK YOU DENNIS! I highly recommend Dennis to assist you with any type of audition! – Jennifer Popovich
Working with Dennis was fantastic! I came to Dennis on a pretty tight timeline for my audition to grad school. He helped me break down my classical monologues, and his approach made the prep for them very clear. If you are at all worried about how to work on classical literature, Dennis has a clear method to his teaching that will help you relate to the material. He’s so easy to work with, always came prepared, ready to work, and he gave me a new method to approach preparing Shakespeare. I felt very well prepared for my auditions, my only regret was not finding Dennis sooner! – Kelly Coughlin
Dennis was instrumental in helping me fulfill my monologue requirements for my Fulbright application. Not only was his comprehensive knowledge of Shakespeare vital towards my preparation, but he was equally well versed in the world of contemporary monologues. His recent personal experiences with drama school/MFA auditions made quick and effective work of our coaching sessions: he knows what schools are looking for. I highly recommend Dennis to assist with your drama program preparations! – Erik Eidem
Dennis provided excellent coaching on a couple of Shakespeare monologues I was preparing for an audition. In a short amount of time, he helped me to not only analyze each monologue, but perform them in a dynamic and contrasting way. He has an enormous amount of insight into performance and makes the process fun! I ABSOLUTELY recommend him as a coach–definitely one of the best I’ve worked with. – Celeste Martinez
“I never thought I could ever understand, let alone have fun, with Shakespeare! I enjoyed the workshop so much.” – Sarah, New Jersey Performing Arts and Career Prep High School
“I never thought Shakespeare could be so much fun, but you totally opened my eyes to all kinds of possibilities for me in the future! Before the workshop, I never wanted to do any kind of Shakespeare, but now I would love to do one of his plays. Thank you for all that you taught us. I learned so much!” – Courtney, New Jersey Performing Arts and Career Prep High School
Email me at the below address for location details.
$80 per hour. First session must be paid in advanced through PayPal below. First time clients must start with a one hour session. Payments are non-refundable. Any additional sessions can be paid in person by cash, check or credit card.
There is a $45 per half hour refresher session offered to returning clients.
Cancellations and rescheduling must be made 24 hours before the session. No refunds will be issued for cancellation made after 24 hours.
I also take payments by VENMO at @dennisbaker01.
Have questions? Ready to team up? You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. When you do email me, it is helpful if you include the answers to the below questions.
1. What date is your audition?
2. What is your general availability to meet? Do you know how many times you want to meet?
3. How far along are you in your preparation process? Do you have your monologues selected? If so, what are they?
Read my Backstage article, Eight Steps to a Solid Audition for an MFA (of BFA) Program.