KCC Faculty on Teaching
Q&A with Paul Ricciardi | ACTING
How did you get into teaching?
When I started acting professionally, I knew that at some point I wanted teaching theater to also be a part of my life, but I was aware that teaching would limit my ability to take out-of-town acting jobs. I waited a few years and established myself as an actor before pursuing teaching. When I felt ready, I was lucky enough to land a great adjunct position at Rhode Island College (I commuted from NYC to Providence twice a week for three semesters!).
What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in college. I studied theatre arts and felt like I had found my tribe working in theater, but at the time, I lacked the confidence to make a life as an actor. This period was the height of the AIDS crisis, and as a young gay man, I felt this need to get involved and somehow make a difference. Working in HIV/AIDS services seemed like a good place for me to focus my energy while I gathered my courage as an actor…which is to say, if you’d asked me when I was 20 what I was going to do with my life, I probably would have guessed that I’d be working in HIV/AIDS services.
What do you love about teaching?
I ultimately decided to create a life in the theater because I believe that live performance has the potential to change people’s lives. I love introducing theater to students who may have never had any exposure to it, and I love getting people who are new to theater excited by it.
What’s your favorite teaching experience?
Every year, the Kingsborough Theatre Arts faculty accompanies a group of students to the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. The faculty works with students during the month of January to prepare them to attend this winter conference (students present dramatic work, papers, theatrical design, dramatic writing, dramaturgy, and more). It’s a very focused, productive and highly collaborative time for the Theatre Arts program, and our students always come out the other side of the experience completely transformed. I look forward to this event every year!
In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
I view my life as a theater artist outside Kingsborough, and my work in the classroom at Kingsborough, as part of a whole creative practice. When not at Kingsborough, I run a small professional theater in the Hudson Valley called Ancram Opera House (AOH). I’m making discoveries all the time while running AOH— new theater artists, new ways of thinking about design, collaboration, and production. I bring all of these experiences back to the classroom at KCC. Because I primarily teach studio courses (acting, voice), when I’m in the classroom, I am constantly refining my ability as a director, voice and text coach, and acting coach. I then bring these skills back to AOH…and the cycle continues!
What advice do you have for current students?
Keep reminding yourself that anything is possible.