Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner
Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner
My expertise is in movement-based physical theater and devising, in which I have trained students internationally, in both university and professional settings. My professional career Off-Broadway, regionally, and internationally has created a broad body of work. My creative research into Physical Action and Energetic Flow, which explores the intersections between the work of Grotowski, Stanislavski, Feldenkrais, and Wilhelm Reich, and which I have been systematically developing since 2009, informs all my artistic production and teaching.
I was co-founder, performer, writer and director with Mustard Seed Theater Lab in New York City from 1986 to 1989. From 1992 to 1999, I was a member of the New World Performance Laboratory, with whom I toured and performed throughout the world. I toured my solo performance, I Dreamed of Rats, from 1997 to 2015, giving my final performance at the Mad River International Theatre Festival in Blue Lake, CA. I have performed Off Broadway and regionally at venues such as the Kennedy Center, New York’s Public Theatre, Home for Contemporary Theatre, and Target Margin. In film, I portrayed Vincent Jeffries in the independent film Parallel, for which I won the award for Outstanding Acting Performance at the Zed Fest Film Festival in Los Angeles. Cleveland-area performances include work with Porthouse Theatre; Mamai; convergence-continuum; Akron Symphony; Cleveland Playhouse; Cleveland Public Theatre; Theatre Ninjas; and Cleveland Orchestra. As a playwright, my work has been performed in New York at Pan Asian Repertory, Home For Contemporary Theatre, and Theatre Club Funambules, among other venues.
I have directed original, devised work as well as contemporary and classic scripts, both professionally and at the university level. My productions have been performed locally, in New York, and internationally. My most recent professional production was Don't You Weep, an original devised work by Debora Totti, at Akron's Center for Applied Theatre and Active Culture (CATAC). In New York I directed original devised pieces at Home for Contemporary Theatre and Theatre Club Funambules. From 1994 to 1999 I was Director of Cleveland Public Theatre’s Annual New Plays Festival. University productions include Romeo and Juliet at the University of Akron, where I also directed Frank Wedekind’s Spring’s Awakening and Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. At Lorain County Community College I directed Sam Shepard's Buried Child, Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi, Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Eugene Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano, and a collection of Chekhov one-acts that I entitled I Now Pronounce You. Other directing credits include Brecht’s Good Woman of Setzuan and my own adaptation of Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis at Lake Erie College. In 2012 I was an artist in residence in Bogota, Colombia, where I was invited by the Academia Superior des Artes de Bogota to direct a production of Nikolai Gogol’s Marriage (El Casamiento).
As a performer and physical training leader with New World Performance Laboratory for seven years, I taught actors from all over the world in workhops devoted to physical training and devised ensemble creation. My acting teaching is largely based on the principle of freeing spontaneity through physical precision. I have continued to bring that principle to my university teaching over the past nineteen years, teaching acting at all levels to both undergraduate and graduate students. In addition I have taught movement, script analysis, dramatic literature, and theatre history at Kent State University, Case Western Reserve University, The University of Akron, Lorain County Community College, Cuyahoga Community College, and Lake Erie College. In the summer of 2012, I was a Visiting Artist at the Academia Superior des Artes de Bogota in Bogota, Colombia. There I taught fifth-year conservatory students and led workshops for students and professional actors at the Teatro Nacional.
My interest in the approach to the psychological through the physical led me to become a Certified Feldenkrais Method® Practitioner. The Feldenkrais Method® is a technique for developing and refining your sensory awareness, through gentle movement exercises, leading to improved overall health and functioning. It is for people of all ages and abilities. Through my four years of training to become a practitioner, I discovered the Feldenkrais Method®'s amazing potential for recovering from injury, as well as for improving the ease, fluency, and grace of my performing. In addition to offering group classes and private lessons to the general public, I now teach classes and workshops in the application of Feldenkrais Method® to the performing arts.
I received my BA in Theater Studies from Yale University, my MA in Theatre Arts from the University of Akron, and my MFA in Acting (with a specialty in Movement) from Kent State University. I also privately studied acting with the Polish Laboratory Theatre’s Ryszard Cieslak, as well as at the Michael Chekhov Studio, and I am a graduate of the Dell’Arte School of Physical Theatre. I trained as a Feldenkrais Practitioner at the Feldenkrais Institute of New York, where I received my certification in 2013.
Watch a clip from my solo performance, I Dreamed of Rats
(filmed by Keith Nickoson)
Watch another clip from solo performance, I Dreamed of Rats
(filmed by Keith Nickoson)
“Intelligent physical comedy . . . a finely crafted miniature—spare, exquisitely precise and consistently amusing . . . . Cranendonk is a formidable physical comedian, and his work with simple props is nothing short of dazzling.”
- Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Terence Cranendonk’s performance is an athletic symphony of fidgets, spasms and half-completed thoughts. He shows a remarkable mastery of movement and is at his best executing a Fred Astaire-like pas de deux with a coat and hat on a hanger.”
- Cleveland Free Times
“Mr. Cranendonk is clearly a master.”
- Cleveland Plain Press
"When Terence Cranendonk joins in as handyman Charles, the comedy ratchets up a notch or two due to his hilarious physicality. It is worth the price of admission just to watch Cranendonk strike manly, Fabio-esque dust-jacket poses with a body best suited for the pages of Popular Science. "
- Lorain Morning Journal
"A stark Terence Cranendonk uses his precisely controlled physicality to make Clov a study in elemental survival. With his shoulders slumped like a marionette with a snapped string, he stutter-steps through his chores -- clearly moving, yet somehow seeming to resist movement. Whether he's issuing snarky verbal jabs or emitting a mirthless death-sigh laugh, Cranendonk is a marvel."
- Cleveland Plain Dealer
"It’s Terence Cranendonk’s tour-de-force performance as the abused clerk-turned-madman that you’ll remember forever. A sublime physical comedian, Cranendonk is arguably one of the area’s finest actors. He makes Gogol’s grotesque character funny, endearing, and ultimately poignant."
Romeo and Juliet
The Comedy of Errors
The Bald Soprano
For me, learning is doing. Real change for a student is physical change. In other words, if a student learns something new, she will perform a task differently. Conversely, if a student does a physical task differently, she can learn something new. I do not believe that acquiring a new way of thinking can happen without acquiring a new way of doing—the two are a functional unity. Learning depends, therefore, on an environment in which the student can try on different ways of moving and acting. A master actor—a master of physical action—is an actor who is able to do the same action in many different ways. A master actor can sit in a chair, for example, in a thousand different ways, remaining flexible and responsive to differences in the given circumstances of a dramatic situation or differences in the character she is playing. This flexibility and responsiveness of the actor depends on taking on unfamiliar and non-habitual ways of moving and acting.
In order to facilitate the learning of new and non-habitual ways of moving and acting, I follow the principles I have learned as a Feldenkrais practitioner and foster an environment for self-teaching. The Feldenkrais Method asks the student to pay attention to how an action is done, rather than the result of the action. I use Feldenkrais exercises in my movement classes, allowing actors to devote their attention to their individual, idiosyncratic way of doing an action, and giving them the opportunity to try other ways of doing the same action. The learning is self-directed, each student giving attention to his own process. Rather than learn a specific, ideal way of doing something, students “learn how to learn.” Ideally, I am generating an atmosphere of pleasurable curiosity.
I also use the plastique and corporal exercises of Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre in my classes. These exercises are an effective way of training the actor to shorten the distance between an impulse to do something, and the physical expression of that impulse. This “distance” between impulse and expression is not only a distance of time, but one of quality. I try to help students more fully realize in physical action what they conceptualize in imagination. I believe this applies to a student’s life as well as a student’s art. Not only do I want to help students find their way to solve artistic problems in unique, individual ways. I want to help students learn to do the things they enjoy doing, and to learn how to do them in a more satisfying way, in the world outside the classroom. Ultimately, I believe the physical work in the classroom helps students to think critically, independently, courageously, and to challenge orthodoxy actively, in both life and art.
I believe it is important for the student actor to understand and experience this notion of “impulse”—an inner desire to act—physically and practically. I use Michael Chekhov exercises in “archetypal gestures” to get students to fully embody an action like “to push” or “to lift.” These actions are both physical and psychological, but I emphasize their physical nature when I ask students to do full-bodied actions that involve movement from head to toe. I then ask students to gradually reduce the size of the movement until it is essentially invisible—the small action effectively becomes the beginning of the full-bodied action, which is not “carried out.” This small, almost invisible movement is what I ask students to experience as impulse. Impulse becomes something tangible, physical, controllable, rather than psychological and abstract.
Student actors can learn in this way to physicalize the most seemingly intangible psychological actions and to make them a part of their actor’s score in performance. I frequently ask students in my classes to physicalize—first broadly, then almost invisibly—the actions in the scenes they are working on. The result is a performance that is more full-bodied, richer, and that touches the actor emotionally and imaginatively.
The different influences on my work—Feldenkrais, Grotowski, Michael Chekhov, among others—are tied together by the foundation of Stanislavski’s work with physical action. Stanislavski described physical action as precise physical behavior directed towards achieving a concrete objective. For me, this notion of action unites elegantly the forces of imagination, will, and sensation in the physical body of the performer. Feeling, emotion, thought, and vision are linked to action by a physiological connection of nerve to muscle and bone. Thus, my movement classes strive to make Stanislavski’s tools of action, impulse, objective, and through-line a physically concrete experience for the student actor.
I set up my classrooms to be collaborative workshops. The practice of theater is a practice that requires direct transmission, teacher to student, student to student, artist to artist, engaged together in an active attempt to solve a problem. I could (and have) lectured about Stanislavski’s notion of an “objective” or “active task” with whiteboard, powerpoint, and film, but this actor’s tool is not truly grasped until a student and teacher grapple with it in a practical setting. This collaborative learning, as opposed to lecture-based teaching, results in organic, self-taught mastery of skills in the physical world. Therefore, I refrain from giving definitive “answers” in class. I don’t suggest an ideal form for walking, or breathing, or embodying a character, that the student actor must accomplish. I prefer to engage students in solving artistic questions by having them try out different strategies on their own, until they find the strategy that solves the practical problem at hand. The methodology can be time-consuming, but the learning results are more long-lasting.
In helping students to find the physicality of action, impulse, and objectives, I am always looking for methodologies that allow students to self-teach through movement. Through workshops, reading, and the observation of other teachers, I hope to continue discovering new methodologies and evolving the ones I already use. Mostly, I hope to grow through the observation of my own students. I feel like my best teaching happens when I am actively trying to learn from my students, rather than “impart” knowledge, and I always make sure to acknowledge my students when they help me learn. I know I’ve succeeded in class when a student does something I can’t, or discovers something I haven’t yet.
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55 Shiawassee Avenue, Suite 4, Akron, Ohio 44333