Bob Shryock is an actor-creator and theatre artist that works in both New York City and San Francisco. As a jack-of-all-trades, Bob has worked as a teaching artist, director, performer, deviser, producer and administrator for many organizations and universities. He recently accepted the role of Director of University and Artist Relations for the Accademia dell’Arte and we are very proud to call him our colleague.
When did you attend the Accademia?
What did you study there?
I was a part of the inaugural MFA in Physical Theatre cohort.
What was your undergraduate university?
I studied theatre and biology at Western Kentucky University.
What was your favorite thing about the MFA program?
There was so much I enjoyed about the program. Some of the major highlights were the breadth and diversity of skills, approaches, and perspectives we were exposed to (and allowed to explore and train in), the amount of input we had on the structure of the program and the curriculum, and the wide spectrum of life and performance backgrounds from which my cohort came.
Can you share a favorite memory or story from your time in Italy outside the classroom?
Hmmm … not sure it’s my favorite, but a hilarious memory is when Meredith Fox threw up on the bus on the way to Casentino during the fall of 2009. I can still hear her announcing, “Dory, I’m going to throw up!” The bus emptied and somehow I was stuck cleaning it up.
What were some of the biggest “takeaways” from your time at the Accademia?
A). My cohort had one-on-one meetings with Andy Crook while we were generating material for our devised piece, “The Judgment of Don Quixote”. I asked Andy, “What’s something you know now that you wish you would have known when you were my age?” His response was, “It doesn’t all have to happen right now.”
B). The passion Bryan Burroughs has for his work is something that continues to affect the way I work. He also illuminated to me the power of “precariousness” for an actor/performer.
C). While in residence at the Berliner Schule für Schauspiel, there was always an invigorating energy of joy and wonder that Burkhart Siedemann brought to the work that I strive to emulate.
What have you been up to since the ADA?
I moved to New York City after completing my MFA in 2011 to pursue work/life as an actor-creator and theatre artist. I’ve been here since, but by the time anyone is reading this I will have relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area. If you’re there and reading this, get in touch! I need friends!
Can you tell us about how you began working with Ripple Effect Artists?
I responded to an open call for one of their productions in the fall of 2012. I was offered a role but had to decline due to a previous commitment to another project. But… they invited me to join their acting company. I was cast as Feste and Antonio in their production of Twelfth Night a few months later (which I accepted). Through a series of conversations with the Founding Executive Director it was determined that it would be mutually beneficial for me to take the role of Associate Artistic Director for the company. Since I’m jumping to the opposite coast, I’ll be moving into an artistic position on their advisory board.
Can you share more about your hospital clown experience?
In the spring of 2012 I auditioned for – and was invited to join – Lev Leytzan, a professional hospital clown organization. We visit hospitals, assisted care homes, and do home visits for people of all ages, but specifically focus on older adults with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Last year I was the director of training for their Youth Clown program – developing the curriculum (and leading most classes) for their youth clowns in training.
Tell us more about your current projects.
I just finished a devised political theatre piece directed by one of Anne Bogart’s directing MFA students at Colombia University. It used “The Tempest” as source material and explored issues of immigration, refugee-ism, and detention. Since I’m in the process of moving, other projects are further down the pipeline. I’m brainstorming an original, solo mask piece and my partner and I have been throwing around the idea of an original two-person piece. Stay tuned.
How has the Accademia helped shaped who you are as an artist/creator/director/performer?
My time, experience, and training at the Accademia transformed me as an artist. It exponentially broadened my perspective and skill set. The program allowed the time, space, and resources to explore and experiment with my personal aesthetic and collaborate intimately with others who were interested in doing the same.
What would your advice be for people considering attending the ADA?
Why did you decide to begin working with the ADA?
I recently began working as the Accademia’s Director of University and Artist Relations, i.e. I manage and direct the school’s marketing and US recruiting. Since I completed the MFA in 2011, I’ve been invited to attend conferences as a representative of the ADA to offer an alumni perspective on the MFA program. Because of this I’ve had some experience in how the system works. As an alum of the ADA, I have unique insight into everything from programming and curriculum to student life. Also, for the last three years I’ve worked as a project manager and creative producer in the advertising industry in NYC to support my artistic endeavors. So, when conversations began about this position several months ago, it became apparent that I brought unique perspective and experience to the position. Most importantly though I’m a huge advocate of the Accademia. I strongly believe in the training and experience its undergraduate and graduate programs offer for performing artists, artists, and students of life in general. I feel honored that my job is to spread the word about the many things the Accademia has to offer and to ensure as many students and artists have the opportunity to experience it as possible.