By Swagata Naik | Opening Doorz Editorial | September 05, 2017
On Teachers’ Day, Swagata Naik singles out Jeff Goldberg as the guru who changed the course of her life. “His aim is solely an evolved creative sense for students, most of who have been constantly discouraged by society to ignore their creative impulses,” reveals the actor who was once a lawyer.
If you were to ask me, I really cannot pin-point one particular teacher during my school days who has made a deep impact on my life. May be, it could be because when we are younger, a lot of what our teachers say seem important.
But as we grow older, and step into the wide world where we have to fend for ourselves, we look for that one guru who will put us though the right path in life, professionally. This is true for most of us, although we may not do this consciously.
For me, the guru-shishya moment happened when I met Jeff Goldberg at his studio.
It happened on the first day of the Open Workshop for Method Acting. For some of his students, it would have happened at the trial class for the Foundation level of the Method Acting Workshop. They might as well name it, ‘The Jeff Goldberg Studio for appreciation of everything that is human’, because that is what you learn when you decide to become a part of this family. There is no other way to be a part of the Studio: there are no half measures. Everyone and every point of view is welcome with open arms and an unparalleled curiosity. This is because of the founder of the Studio, Jeff Goldberg, who is indeed the life-force of this one-of-a-kind place that offers a workshop in method acting.
When I met Jeff, I was still a lawyer. I didn’t know much about the industry. I was not even sure about joining the arts. But Jeff draws you in and makes you believe that anything is possible. He makes you believe in the artist that sits, scared, in the depths of all of our hearts. His passion is infectious and his knowledge unlike anything that I have ever encountered. It is not affected or for any effect—it just is. The purity of it is beautiful and it makes you feel that you can be more than your own greatest dreams.
Jeff teaches a course in method acting and as with all art forms, it begs the question—can art be taught? However Jeff approaches the subject with realism and practicality, the idea being that you use a method that works for you as an artist. There is no pressure to be a version of an actor that is dreamt up by an idealistic teacher. The assertion on actually getting the job done (the job being truly representing life to the audience), as opposed to a pedantic notion of what should be, is refreshing.
Jeff’s impact on all his students, without exception is singular—liberating. His technique, aura and energy evoke a student to search for his/her underlying strength and creative spirit. You want to be better because this man pushes you to be nothing less—without any ulterior motive. He is so invested in students that he may be mistaken for a therapist. However, and here is a word of caution, he is a teacher—he will not remove life’s obstacles or fight them for you, he teaches you enough in your own creative pursuit to be able to surmount those challenges and consequently be better as a person and as an artist.
Jeff brings a peculiar mixture of transparency and mystery to the class that makes the average student curious. As a teacher, I feel that is his greatest strength. He evokes a hunger in students that is rare in one teaching adults. He makes you go back to the ‘eureka’ moments that made your childhood an evolutionary process, and you the person you are. He makes you want to have more of those moments. Except this time, the laboratory is life and the experiment is you. He pushes you to be a better person—a more aware person and thus a better artist, a more real artist.
Jeff has brought understanding and love to the craft that his students thrive on. Personally, Jeff has been a friend and a guide, but most of all, Jeff has been that voice in the dark that pulls you towards light. As a student, I differ from him in my sensibilities, but he allows me and each of his students that. It is such a simple and rare quality for any teacher to have—selflessness. There is no sense of competition with his own students, which, given the strangely timeless and classless nature of the industry, is not entirely impossible. His aim is solely an evolved creative sense for students, most of who have been constantly discouraged by society to ignore their creative impulses. Jeff asks you to listen to yourself, your inner life and the whispers of your heart—he makes you aware of your own being and the largeness of you in the universe and the bigness of it all. Jeff makes you live.
On Teachers’ Day, I dedicate this article to Jeff. I have had many teachers and many lovely people who have helped me and who continue to guide me, but if I have to pick an advisor, a parachute of sorts in the free-fall that is the arts, it would only be Jeff Goldberg.
Also Read: Once a corporate lawyer, now an actor!