Faculty Profile: Meet Philip Winters, Director of Theatre Arts
Professor and professional actor Philip Winters received his M.F.A. in Theatre Arts from Point Park University and a B.A. in English from the University of Pittsburgh. He has been featured in many film and television roles, as well as on radio for numerous voice-over performances.
"The professors teaching our students are not retired actors or professionals that used to be designers. Theatre professors are professionals that are going out every day and doing the same thing our students are doing - auditioning for roles, showing their portfolio and trying to get a job to further their career."
Tell us about your professional background.
I've been working as a professional actor for 45 years in Pittsburgh and have been teaching at Point Park for 22 years. My love for theater led me to teaching. I do a lot of work in film and television but primarily in stage acting.
What courses do you teach?
- Acting I, II
- Voice and Speech I, II
- Theatre History
In what ways do you incorporate your real-world experience into the classroom?
I bring my real-world experience into the classroom by realizing that every time I work on a project, whether it's a play I work on for two months or a voice-over I record in a day, every one of these things is an experience. I teach my students that every experience is something that you have to build upon and use to establish not only your resume, but also your credentials and abilities.
What types of hands-on opportunities do students have in your classroom?
Most of what we learn in the classroom we learn by doing. In the Michael Chekhov Technique, there's a large tenant of that technique that you don't learn very much by discussing it, but you learn a lot by doing it. We try to get on our feet, have the exercise explained to us a little bit, enter in to it and then do an exercise called a spy back or a talk back. We do a lot that's based on actual activity and there's also scene work.
Why do you like teaching at Point Park?
I really like teaching at Point Park because I know that the students in my class are at Point Park because they really want to be here. There are a lot of people who go to college because they assume it's the next step, but at Point Park our students have gone through a rigorous audition process, and they finally decided this is the school they want to attend. Knowing that our students want to be here makes so much of a difference for the instructor; it really makes teaching a great experience.
What makes the theatre program at Point Park unique?
The professors teaching our students are not retired actors or professionals that used to be designers. Theatre professors are professionals that are going out every day and doing the same thing our students are doing - auditioning for roles, showing their portfolio and trying to get a job to further their career.
What advice do you have for a prospective student?
If you're considering the theatre program at Point Park, ask yourself if you really want to work hard. A lot of people are surprised at the amount of time and effort it takes to be a student in the Conservatory. You have to be prepared to work really hard and I think that's a good thing because it will be the same way in your career. Discipline is the key to acting.