Two distinguished theater professionals, Stanley Harrison and Brian Myers Cooper, will visit West Liberty University this April to share advice and stories about show business. All programs are free and open to the public.
“We have a rare opportunity to have two accomplished theater pros visit and give lectures to our students. Stanley Harrison, a former West Liberty State College theatre director has been in New York City for 30 plus years. He has mentored a dozen students onto the Broadway stage for valuable careers. Brian Myers Cooper offers just as valuable an experience to students and those interested in getting into acting. Cooper also has many years of experience in New York as an actor, teacher and mentor. His talk will offer practical advice for those who want to make it in show business today,” said Meta Lasch, WLU assistant professor of theater.
Cooper will offer two events. The first, Biz of Biz, will be held in Kelly Theatre at 7 p.m., Monday, April 21. It addresses the important business of post-graduation.
“Leaving academic life for the harsh realities and infinite options of a career in theatre can be overwhelming. This program offers an overview of how to treat your acting career as the small business it is,” Cooper explained. Resumes, headshots, webpages, mock auditions, online casting communities and more, will be addressed during this 2-3 hours session.
The second Cooper offering is a master class for actors that will meet at 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 22, it also will be held in Kelly Theatre. (Limited to 20 participants, please call number below to reserve a space.)
“My goal when working with actors is always the same: to meet them where they currently are in their journey and guide them to reveal themselves through the material (and vice-versa!) The techniques I use are customized for each actor and are an amalgamation of more than two decades of study and experience in the professional theatre,” Cooper said. “In 2.5 hours, I will lead the class through a brief actor warm-up based in Alexander and Linklater work, including: body awareness, breath and voice.”
Cooper is a professional New York actor of 20 plus years, as well as a writer, director, acting teacher and career coach. His performing career has ranged from the lowest to the pinnacle of Equity contracts, with performances in all 50 states. He has coached his clients to jobs on Broadway, Off-Broadway, national tours, major regional theaters, and the recent New York Philharmonic production of Sweeney Todd starring Emma Thomson, soon to be aired on PBS.
For the past decade he has served as an elected member of the National Council and Eastern Regional Board of Actor’s Equity Association where he is a veteran of seven contract negotiations, including chairing three of the teams. In addition, he serves as a trustee of the Equity-League Pension & Health Trust Funds.
Over the years, Cooper has studied extensively with notable NYC teachers in Meisner, On-camera technique, Commercial technique, Alexander, Linklater Voice, multiple stints with Shakespeare & Co, and a bevy of singing teachers and coaches. He is the proud holder of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education (vocal and instrumental) from West Liberty State College, class of 1988.
Performing is a spiritual experience, according to Stanley Harrison who is pleased to return to Kelly Theatre for his 7 p.m., Monday, April 28, presentation.
“We are so proud to have Stanley back with us and hope that his former students and the Wheeling community will turn out for this very rare chance to hear one of the greatest theater professionals who ever worked in Wheeling,” said Lasch.
His talk will address acting and life philosophy and will talk about faith in truth and the power that an actor owns through his art.
Harrison has been acting and teaching actors for more than 40 years. A veteran of the New York stage, his work as teacher, mentor and coach has helped many find careers in the theater including work on Broadway. His performance career runs the gamut from New York venues, including The American Globe in such classics as Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing and The Three Sisters, to Regional stages, including The Barter Theatre, The White Barn Theatre and The Ice House Theatre, to name but a few. Stanley’s film and television credits include Riffed for Caravan Films, a stint on The Sopranos and a variety of voice-over work through the years.
His teaching roster has included such names as J. C. Sheets who performed as the alternate Jean Valjean in the Broadway production of Les Miserables and as Jean Valjean for the Australian production, and David Klatt who performed in the Broadway production of La Cage Aux Folles.
Harrison also built not one, but two theaters in New York City with the mission of producing new works.
West Liberty University and the Ohio Valley owe much to this amazing talent, according to Lasch.
The Kelly Theatre stands as a tribute to his knowledge and diligence as he was instrumental in its design during his tenure as theatre director at West Liberty State College from 1962-1979.
While in Wheeling, he directed summer musicals at the Amphitheater in Oglebay Park, performed with the Wheeling Symphony under the direction of Robert Kreiss, and introduced Broadway musicals and serious theater to the College. Along with Helen MT Kelly, Harrison developed the West Liberty theater into a program that has produced students that have gone on to perform on Broadway, television and film. They have also found success as artistic and general managers of regional theaters, leaders in academic theater and more.
Harrison’s education includes a Master’s of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama, with additional study with Stein Burger, the Director of the National Theatre of Norway and Eric Byrak, the Director of the National Theatre of Holland. Harrison is a member of Actor’s Equity Association.