Teaching Philosophy

Joe Orrach’s philosophy of teaching is based on coaxing the authentic self to emerge – finding the access to the internal that one needs not to “act” but to “be.” That “Being” is not so simple; it takes discipline, tools, and self-awareness through practice, focus, and openness to possibilities. Joe’s belief is that when one is truly oneself, then the actor in that self can be “found” through study, discipline and awareness. The result of the work is a person with a renewed sense of self and an expanded sense of personal capacity, which makes the best kind of performer. 

The result is empowering, not just in the theater, but in other, less rarefied worlds. Joe uses his mastery in the crafts of acting, movement, and dance to help others discover their deeper selves through interpretive intelligence and mastery of physical, psychological, and emotional awareness in performance. Joe brings and finds in the classroom an exuberant joy and sense of total immersion in the present moment that goes hand in hand with improvisation, intuition, and engagement.

“I never had a voice. All of the work I do [as an interventionist and activist], they still looked at me different. The politicians, the community organizations, when I do presentations, They never really heard me. But […] now I know how to tell you how I feel. Now I’m ready for the world.”  

– Cynthia Mendenhall, participant in Orrach’s Advancement Project workshop

Joe’s teaching philosophy is inspired by “the freest use of the most intelligent body,” in the words of Isadora Duncan. Joe has learned first-hand that the training of the body –  which includes the mind and emotions – frees it to approach new potentials. “Having my body to support me, to remember for me what to do next, to take risks for me: this is what I depend on.” Joe has created his integrated physical approach to teaching in part through working closely with celebrated teachers of his own, including Graciela Daniele, Bill Irwin, Andy Robinson, David Shiner, Robert Woodruff, Natsoko Ohama, and David Bridel.

Joe’s passion is to reach out to people who would not normally go to “traditional” theater venues. He has worked closely with schools and other educational organizations to touch the lives of people from all walks of life. Some of the classes and workshops he’s led have included:

Advancement Project workshops for Leadership in Development Training for Gang Interventionists – Los Angeles, CA
Visiting artistic instructor for impact drug and alcohol treatment – Pasadena, CA
Organizer for the San Francisco Youth Leadership Awards – San Francisco, CA
Mentor for the Seven Tepees Youth Organization – San Francisco, CA
Workshops for incarcerated youth at the lockdown facility at San Francisco General Hospital – San Francisco, CA
Workshops for the Delancey Street Foundation – San Francisco, CA, and Los Angeles, CA
Performance/workshop to benefit Edible Schoolyard – Berkeley, CA
Performances and workshops to benefit Heart to Heart International Children’s Medical Association – Oakland, CA
Storytelling and performance workshops for high school students – Berkeley Public High School (Berkeley, CA); Oakland School for the Arts (Oakland, CA); San Francisco School for the Arts (San Francisco, CA); and CrossRoads High School (Los Angeles, CA)
Workshop at East Bay Performing Arts Center – Richmond, CA

Joe has also taught acting, performance, and dance classes at many colleges and universities across the country. These have included:

Movement and Tap at New York University/Lee Strasberg Acting Studio – New York, NY
Movement, Tap, and Physical Comedy at Duke University – Durham, NC
Tap and Stomp at Montclair State University – Montclair, NJ
Master Classes and Gala Performance at University of Minnesota/Northrop Stage – Minneapolis, MN
Master Classes and Performances at University of Colorado at Boulder – Boulder, CO
Movement for the Actor/Visiting teacher MFA Program at University of Southern California – Los Angeles, CA
Performance and workshop at St. Mary’s College of California – Moraga, CA

Orrach’s unique way of “coaxing” the authentic self from his students is rooted in his passion for the art form and his open, joyous love for the people he creates with. Students in Joe’s classes and workshops are encouraged and transported by Orrach’s own passion, vulnerability, and love for the craft.

To find out more about hosting a JOPP workshop for your community or organization, please contact us.

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