“No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge. The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness. If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.” – Khalil Gibran
I have worked as an educational theater teaching artist since 2009, teaching a wide range of skills including acting, voice and speech, movement, dialects, clown, audition technique, Shakespeare, and songwriting. I regularly teach through the Educational Wing of Arc Stages as a director and specialty coach, and have taught at Burgh Healthy Hub, White Plains Performing Arts Center, New Stage Theatre, Lighthouse Youth Theater, Westchester Broadway Theater, New Generation Theatre, and the South Dakota and Texas Shakespeare Festivals. I also had the honor of speaking at the University of Connecticut as part of a professional panel about marketing and self-promotion for artists, focusing on the theater industry.
My teaching draws from many methodologies, including Poetic Dynamics (with elements of Commedia dell’Arte, Melodrama, and Clown), The Miller Voice Method, the Dramatic Circumstances Method, and an array of experiences as a professional theater artist. I have had the great fortune to study with and be inspired by master teachers who have, whether or not they know it, helped me cultivate my perspective and conviction.
My basic teaching philosophy is: “Play the mask intuitively.”
“Play” – From the spirit of play comes innovation, connection, and a willingness to engage with the unknown. From there, profound discoveries can be made, and once discovered, they can be played with. The spirit of play makes anything possible, and I believe that is the most important element of the theater.
“The mask” – This could be a literal mask, it could be the text of a play, or it could be the music of a composer. Our side of the collaboration is to see and honor the mask, and then to breathe our unique life spirit into it. The mask leads us to discover sides of ourselves we may never have known, which allows us to be simultaneously genuine and transformative in our storytelling.
“Intuitively” – Learning to listen to and act on our own intuition is one of the most important skills an artist, or anyone, can develop. We become willing to trust, to fail, to get out of our heads, and our playing can move away from what is “right” or “good” toward what is alive and joyful.
I believe everyone should study theatrical performance, but I am not concerned with training people to be professional commodities. If that happens, wonderful, but it is not what I set out to do. I care about discovering, cultivating, and empowering each student’s authentic self. I want my students to approach the creative process from a foundation of joy and develop an empowered sense of self that they can carry with them wherever their lives may lead. Through inhabiting characters we develop empathy, learn how people exist and co-exist in the world, and discover our truest selves. Art, and the possibility of creating art, exists to reveal the full capacity of humanity.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“Smart, captivating, caring. Jeff Raab is the real deal. He is a versatile teacher/director who has a passion for the art and craft of acting and theatre. Jeff’s passion is what captivates his students. He always delves deeply into objectives and desires and is able to give his students a deeper understanding of the craft of acting and I would go so far to say the human condition.” – Adam Cohen, Artistic Director, Arc Stages
“Jeff is a talented, caring, and thoroughly professional teacher. He has the ability to communicate clearly, efficiently, and in a manner which takes into account the specific needs of the student, no matter his or her level of expertise or experience. Jeff, because of his passion for craft, and his drive to be well prepared, as well as his compassionate heart, would be an invaluable asset to any artistic or educational enterprise. I have had the great fortune to work with Jeff as an actor, and as as stage manager/co-director. I am also proud to call him my friend.” – Jorge Acosta, Director, White Plains Performing Arts Center
“One of the great things about Jeff is the range of subjects he can teach. We knew we could count on him for not only basic skills classes, but also the unique and unusual classes students would struggle to find anywhere else.” – Matthew Simpson, Artistic Associate, Texas Shakespeare Festival
“Jeff’s passions extend beyond the traditional musical theatre production and delve in to the deeper meanings of exploring a character and relationships. He is not only helping to create great performers but instill in them a strong sense of self and an understanding of the world around them.” – Lexie Fennell Frare, Director/Choreographer, Helen Hayes Youth Theatre, White Plains Performing Arts Center
“The process of rehearsing and performing the Dining Room last spring was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and part of the reason why I loved it so much was because you were a director. You brought the entire cast together as a leader and a teacher in ways that I had never experienced before. You also helped me on my journey as an actor, and taught me how I can understand a script and make it real for me.” – Emma Cashman, Student
“Jeff is an amazing person and teacher, and working with him was such a great experience, I learned and grew as a performer and actress due to him.” – Megan Fay, Student
“In my work with Jeff Raab I have learned to blend all the impulses of my body with all the backstory of a character to help me build realistic characters. Jeff has helped me connect actions with intentions and movement so that I am not just saying words and doing blocking but I am truly acting and discovering. He has helped me unlock my inner child and need to play on stage.” – Alex Friedland, Student