From Colleagues...

Michael possesses a sharp eye, a keen understanding of craft, and an ability to articulate what is often unexplainable.  In a short period of time, he is able to guide young actors to grounded and expressive performance.  All this and he’s great to work with too!

Mitchell Riggs - Director, Northampton Campus, School Of Cinema and Performing Arts (SOCAPA)

Michael Kaplan is an extraordinary teacher of acting.  He approaches his craft with a reverence that infuses all of his work in the classroom.  He has an uncanny ability to articulate abstract performance ideas with metaphors that turn on light bulbs for the young actor.  His students adore him and are changed by spending a semester studying with him.

Melanie Dreyer-Lude – Assistant Professor, Cornell University Department of Theatre, Film and Dance

Michael is innovative, imaginative and a breath of fresh air to students and colleagues alike.  An impressive mentor and acting teacher -- with abundant resources in creativity and collaborative energy and skill.

Beth F. Milles – Associate Professor, Cornell University Department of Theatre, Film and Dance

It is a joy to work with Michael. He is a boon to any training program - a wonderful teacher who forms lasting ties with his students. 

Richard Hamburger - Former Artistic Director, Dallas Theatre Center; Cornell Guest Director

Students emerging from Michael's acting classes are easy to recognize. They are energized, enthusiastic and chatting knowledgeably about the craft of acting.

David Feldshuh – Artistic Director, Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, Cornell University

One of the most professional, insightful and creative teachers I have ever met.

Nikolai Guzov – Director, Nikolai Guzov Studios, Los Angeles

From Students...

Michael’s class is an exciting exploration wonderfully suited for the actor at any stage or crossroad of post grad life. He creates a challenging and supportive environment for students to continue their acting training; his approach is practical, fulfilling, and revelatory. Acclimating to life as an actor after college can be overwhelming, and Michael’s class has been a welcome and wonderful addition to my life and my journey as an artist. My toolbox has greatly expanded after two rewarding sessions and I look forward to taking class with him again in the future. 

 - Katie Drinkard, Ithaca College BFA Grad, Musical Theatre

Michael is the most brilliant instructor I've ever had the pleasure of working with. I would not be half the actor I am today if it weren't for his persistence, creativity, inspiration, and genuine care for my progress as an actor. He has a keen ability to seek out exactly what an actor needs in any scene or character, and then provide it without spoon-feeding you. I would (and do) recommend MSK to everyone that I can. Being a student of Michael's is the greatest gift you can give to your acting career.

- Kelly Fairbrother, Ithaca College BFA Grad, Acting

Michael's approach to class is based on the individual. He takes the time to listen to, and more importantly understand, each actor's specific needs. The personal work I have witnessed and experienced is nothing short of groundbreaking and the work that Michael shepherds is long lasting. Michael's experience is invaluable and the trust he builds is priceless. 

 - Max Lorn-Krause, Ithaca College BFA Grad, Acting

Taking Michael's class was one of the best decisions I've made since moving to NYC. He helped me to unlock and develop so many parts of my actor-self that I never knew existed. His passion and genuine care for each student is truly exceptional, and it was amazing to watch each of my classmates make breakthrough after breakthrough. I can't wait for the next session! 

 - Megan Beard, Ithaca College BFA Grad, Musical Theatre

Working with Michael is always a challenging and invigorating experience. I know that he can push me beyond my limits and that I can trust him to guide me there. There is never a stupid question that can be asked, which gives everyone a chance to further dive into their craft without the hesitation that comes from feeling judged or inadequate. I love his class because no matter where you are in your career he will lead you where you need to be in order to get to the next level. I can't wait 'til I can take it again.

- Kathryn Allison, Ithaca College BFA Grad, Musical Theatre

Michael helped me get back in touch with my imagination and connection to myself and others.  He understands both the nuts and bolts of storytelling and the keys to making it juicy and truthful. The exercises we explored left me feeling like I have approachable, activating tools to use on my own. Beyond that, Michael is generous with his time, incredibly insightful, and a skillful communicator.

- Hannah Dubner, Ithaca College BFA Grad, Musical Theatre

Every actor is looking for their edge. Whether it's in auditions or in performance, we're all looking for the path that leads to acting that is more truthful and more fun. Michael's class offers not only this, but a new and brilliantly collaborative perspective on the art of theatre. His class is your way past blocks and into freedom onstage.

- Joseph Pietropaulo, Ithaca College BFA Grad, Acting

Michael is one of the most impactful teachers I’ve ever worked with.  His class is built upon the essential foundations of acting and he guides his students into deep but tangible understanding and presence, ultimately helping them release into the character’s circumstance. His eye perceives the needs of his students so intelligently and intuitively.  He thoughtfully works step by step with his students as individuals to authentically strengthen the performance.  For me, Michael was a huge facilitator in helping me to realize my range, encouraging me to explore sides of myself that have not yet been tapped into during performance.  His instruction on how to break through habit and make new choices from new places in my body and point of view was incredibly exciting. His example inspired our whole class to make enormous strides.  Actors couldn’t be in better hands with Michael.

- Melanie Beck, Ithaca College BFA Grad, Acting

Michael is one of the finest actors and teachers that I have had the pleasure to work with. In nurturing the technique and growth of his students, he draws on a wealth of both professional experience and personal dedication to the craft of acting. As both a director and fellow performer, Michael has pushed me to reach beyond my perceived limits and expectations and, over the years, helped me to uncover my potential as an actor.

– James Miller, Cornell Theatre Major, Class of 2012

Michael is a talented and dedicated teacher whose journey both on stage and on screen has allowed him to share a wealth of knowledge about acting and performance. His unparalleled ability to teach from experience gives students the best opportunity at understanding the ins and outs, the ups and downs, and all the ways of becoming a working professional.  He helps his actors find honesty and truth in their work, and his wisdom and work ethic are second to none; he is a mentor and friend who cares deeply about getting the best out of his students.

– Jeremy Flynn, Cornell Class of 2011

When Michael told us on the first day of our Acting course that this was not going to be one of those “easy A” classes, I almost walked out the door. The decision to stay proved to be incredible, as I not only grew as an actor, but as a person. Michael’s passion for acting is contagious and inspirational to the point where he not only demands, but also draws that absolute best from his students.

– Zach Ascher, Cornell Undergraduate Class of 2013

Michael was able to see beyond his students’ limitations and draw out their innermost potential. His teaching has become a great asset and inspiration to me. Without a doubt, his class is beyond the best I have taken at Cornell. 

Hasoo Lee, Cornell Undergraduate 

In his acting, his teaching, and in his directing, Michael practices an attention to detail that is stunning.

– Alexandra Bradley, Cornell Class of 2011

In July of 2009 (merely 2 months after graduating from Cornell), I began teaching 11th grade United States History at Bronx Preparatory Charter School in the South Bronx--one of the nations most disenfranchised communities.  Having only received two weeks of training as a Teach for America Corps member, I found myself completely overwhelmed by the task of educating teenagers with whom I had very little in common.  

On those first days of school--and even now as I continue my professional development as a first year teacher--I continually drew upon the skill-set that I acquired in Michael’s Introduction to Acting Class.  Specifically, the class taught me how to think on my feet when speaking in front of a group and how to adapt when circumstances unexpectedly change.  Most importantly, the class taught me how to project confidence and maintain control over an audience (in this case my students) even in the most challenging of circumstances.   

In short, Theater 2800 enabled me to create a meaningful and dynamic classroom management approach--a skill that has been invaluable to me as a first year teacher.

– Christopher Donohoe, Cornell Undergraduate Class of 2009

Introduction to Acting, as taught by Michael Kaplan, has benefited me in numerous ways, many of them not pertaining to the stage. It has improved my communication skills immensely, allowing me to better share ideas with, and outline concepts to, peers and mentors. The value of this class for any introvert cannot be stressed enough - it gives one the tools to effectively navigate the world at large by introducing students to the power of strong verbal communication, body language, and self-presentation. The class also incorporates physical exercise and teamwork into each session with much more success than any physical education course I took at Cornell. It engages parts of the brain that other courses simply cannot, challenging and rewarding students who otherwise have no outlet to develop interpersonal communication skills. The course accomplishes all of this in an ‘introductory’ environment that suits every student at Cornell, not just those with an interest in performance.

– Lee Dallas, Cornell Class of 2012

Michael Kaplan has a way of making abstract ideas make sense. Acting is not something you can easily describe or put into words, but he was able to reach each and every one of his students in a way that made them understand. He was more than a teacher for me. He was a motivator, crafter, listener, and facilitator. Acting is more than just an activity for him; it is an expression of different facets of life that can touch, inspire, and move an audience. I sincerely cannot speak enough about his abilities and passion for what he does. You won’t be able to measure the difference he can make unless you experience it for yourself.

– Catherine Lyman, Cornell Class of 2011

Acting 2800 with Professor Kaplan was one of the best experiences I had at college.  This was by far my favorite class.  Michael is excellent in not only teaching the basics of the craft but in really pushing his students to reach new levels.  This class challenged me as I had never been challenged before but in ways that made the hard work fun and satisfying.

As an engineer with very little acting experience, I was worried that I would be lost in this class; but this was not the case at all – not once did I feel uncomfortable or behind the rest of the group. Michael did a fantastic job of inspiring his students and gave critiques that were not only helpful but made us better actors.  My experiences in this class are ones I will never forget.

– Kathleen Mehary, Cornell Class of 2011