Anthony Abeson ’58

For over thirty years, Anthony has been an acting teacher and acting coach in New York City.  His work has been documented in the Emmy award-winning episode of the Bill Moyers PBS series Creativity, the Ace award-winning Manhattan Cable Television documentary Chasing Dreams, and the BBC's documentary Bus and Truck.  He has been interviewed on E! Entertainment and Shine Television of England.

As an author, Anthony has had articles published in The Village Voice, The Washington Star, The Theatre Paper, and The Washington Post.  His first book, Acting 2.0 - Doing Work That Gets Work in a High-Tech World was published in 2016.  He is currently finishing his second book Theatre of Grunt - How to Get Thrown Out of Missouri in a Hot Second, and Other Stories.  Many of Anthony’s acting students have gone on to Los Angeles and had successful careers in film and television.

Anthony's high school summers were always spent performing jobs summer theater required such as stage managing, set construction, and lighting design.  During his college years at Columbia University, he made his off-Broadway debut as an actor and assistant director at the Sheridan Square Playhouse in a repertory theater whose director first introduced him to Lee Strasberg and the Actors Studio.  He was unable to attend his graduation having been appointed by the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council to serve as a resident actor and director of the Canterbury Theatre Company, in Christchurch, New Zealand, that country's first international, professional theatre, where he worked with actors from all over the United Kingdom.  Anthony's teaching continued in New Zealand where he also served as director of the Experimental Theatre Laboratory of the Christchurch Academy of Dramatic Arts, the country's first training academy.

In the late 1960s, Anthony began his long term collaboration with Jerzy Grotowski (innovative Polish theatre director and theorist whose approaches to acting, training, and theatrical production have significantly influenced theater today).  In 1972, he accepted an invitation to join Peter Brook (former director of the Royal Shakespeare Company) at his Centre International de Recherche Theatrale in Paris, where he participated as an actor in the Centre's exploration of the effect of non-linear language on the process of the actor.

Anthony started a theater company in the late 1960s, the Ensemble Theatre Laboratory, one of whose earliest members was the wonderful actor Spalding Gray.

In 1973, Anthony started another theater company, The Washington Theatre Laboratory, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the D. C. Arts Commission.  Their training program marked the start of many careers including that of actresses Caroline Aaron and Karen Allen.  Selected as a seminal archetype of the experimental theater movement in America, its archival materials are housed in the permanent collection of The Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute at Ohio State University.

Returning to New York, Anthony studied with Stella Adler at her conservatory and joined the faculty of the Drama Department of the High School for the Performing Arts where he first worked with Esai Morales and Jennifer Aniston, among many talented others.  While there, Anthony was awarded the first Manhattan Superintendent's Award for Excellence in Teaching out of the combined faculties of Performing Arts and Music and Art high schools.

When asked about St. Bernard’s Mr. Abeson shared the following:

Favorite teacher:  “Mr. Fry. The description of words as ‘precious jewels in a treasure chest’ has stayed with me ever since.  I loved doing the Pierrot show and Shakespeare play (The Tempest — I was Alonso, King of Naples) with Mr. Strange, foreshadowing my future career.  Another great memory was hatching a chicken in Mr. Glenn's class whom we called ‘Bernadette.’"

Favorite memories:  “Looking back I continue to be touched and delighted by my memories of the essential eccentricity of St. Bernard's.  To wit, Mr. Strange having his ale every day at lunch, Mr. Westgate usurping regular classes to play the cello in an assembly or insisting on teaching us all the 19th Century American Frontier song ‘I've got a mule, her name is Sal, 15 miles on the Eerie Canal’ while enunciating every word in his precise English accent.”

“The only time we watched television was when Queen Elizabeth II arrived in New York and everything stopped so that we could all watch.  I do not know any other elementary school that taught its students fencing or composed a song for baseball that included the Latin lyrics ‘nulli secundus...’”

Advice to current students: “Cherish this most unusual and excellent experience that St. Bernard's is bestowing upon you.  To this day I decline nouns the English way, (nominative, vocative...) which makes infinitely more sense than the other, American one.  The rigorous academic foundations you are acquiring will serve you throughout the rest of your lives.  More than Milton Academy, more than Columbia, the discipline and love of language that were instilled in me continue to enrich my life and work to this day.  It will sometimes be difficult, but ‘Though your work's in arrears/And you're harassed by fears,/Just remember to smile and to hold back your tears.’”