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Acting beckons to Lecanto High students

The two seniors are thinking of careers and lives amid the city lights after taking part in a six-week program in Manhattan.

By AUTUMN SIEGEL
Published August 30, 2004

LECANTO - When two Lecanto High School students were invited to participate in a program at the School for Film and Television in Manhattan this summer, they pounced at the chance.

Call them starstruck. Miles Teller and Amanda Magyar don't mind. After six weeks of intensive acting study in New York, the mecca for American performers, both are thinking of careers and lives amid the city lights.

"They say the city can either electrify you or ignite you," said Magyar, 17, a senior at Lecanto. "I have never felt more at home in my entire life."

Teller and Magyar were invited to attend the summer program after auditioning for theater scholarships in March at the Florida State Thespians Competition in Tampa.

From July 27 to Aug. 7, they earned college credits by participating in the program and studying such things as improvisation, stage combat, voice and speech, and acting technique.

"We worked with all of these professionals. They were all coaching us and highlighting the tiniest little things you'd never think of. I have never been more aware of my blinking," Magyar said. One of the most valuable exercises, she said, was "Five through the Door."

In this exercise, she said, the student would be given a random line to internalize and act out. "Your line would be something like, "Where's the suitcase department?' and you'd have to walk into the room and say it five different ways with five different emotions," Magyar said. "You learn to be so much more descriptive and precise. It's hard to act happy; it's much easier to be excited or bouncy.

"It was so nice to be around other people who shared my lust for performance," Magyar said. "Here, I'm a loud, annoying one who goes around singing Broadway songs all day. There, I was one of a whole group just like that. We were all together. We brought everybody up."

Unlike Magyar, Teller has not always dreamed of a career on Broadway. He was introduced to theater through Lecanto High's drama department just two years ago, but he has established himself in the thespian community.

Teller is a member of the International Thespian Society District 12, which encompasses Citrus, Hernando and Marion counties. He participated in the district-level competition this year, winning awards for his monologues, ensemble scene and his starring role in a one-act play.

The monologues and one-act play received the superior rating at the state festival, making him eligible to attend the national competition. But he chose not to attend, opting instead to participate in the School for Film and Television's program.

Teller, 17, a Lecanto High senior, entered the program with an underlying skepticism of theater. He raved about the Manhattan nights and the Broadway shows he saw thanks to a student rush program that got him front row seats for $25.

"I saw four shows. The Boy from Oz - let me just assure you that Hugh Jackman is God," he said.

Teller's classes focused more on film, including introduction to camera, voice over and commercials. He found some fundamental differences between his stage experience and the film training he received, but he insists that acting is acting.

"Everything that an actor does is a result of what they're doing internally," Teller said. "The only difference between film and theater is how you apply the skills you've learned. In theater, I might have to throw a chair, slam something or change my voice to indicate I'm angry. In film, you can do all of those things with just your eyes."

Instead of "Five through the Door," Teller remembered activities that enhanced his intuition.

"For one, they had you in this circle, and one person would be feeding you positive energy, and everybody else would be negative towards you, and you'd be blindfolded in the middle," he said. "I swear you could feel the negativity pushing you around. It was so strong. It felt so inviting by the person who was acting more open.

"They thought I was a fluke or something," he said. "So then we all got blindfolds and walked around the room to play tag. It got to the point where you could feel someone behind you reaching for you. I got so good at it. I always won.

"We worked a lot with muscle memory and memorizing the body's reaction to certain feelings. That really helped for the film. You had to be able to reproduce an emotion completely in 30 seconds."

For Magyar, the summer was a calling, complete with fond memories and life lessons.

"I grew up outside of acting, in every aspect of my life," she said.

[Last modified August 30, 2004, 00:52:24]

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