Congratulations to former CAS students!


Congratulations to these current and former CAS students on their latest successes in the industry!

Molly Pan

Cast in a co-starring role on the TV Series “Faking It” on MTV

Serj Gobijla

Playing a regular in the TV Series “Cafe Kremlin”

Jennifer Vance

Will be appearing in “Scissortail” at Adapt Theatre Productions

Katherine Diaz

Booked a role in the feature film “Mello”

Uwe Krueger

Has been cast in a Blain’s Farm & Fleet commercial

Amy Siripunyo

Working as a Production Assistant for the movie “Meet Pursuit Delange” being filmed in London

If you’re a former student of CAS and you’d like to share your success story with us, just call us at 773-645-0222, or email us at

Online registration now open: On-Camera Class for Teens


The brand new On-Camera Workshop for teens starts at the Chicago Actors Studio on April 19th!

This workshop is designed to teach young actors critical performance skills that will help them kickstart a professional acting career, including:

—The concept of slating, and creating a slate video

—Cold reading for TV, commercial and film scripts

—Interacting in a scene with another actor

—Developing an Audition Monologue

—The dos and don’ts of auditioning

Students in this class can expect to receive feedback regarding the development of their on camera skills on a weekly basis. Additionally, One on one career counseling will be available to parents, and we will help guide you through the process of obtaining a credible agent or manager to represent your child.

Youth classes will be instructed by professional actress, spokesperson and teacher, Patti Balsis, who also teaches ear prompter classes at CAS.  You can find out more about Patti by checking out her website at


Classes are scheduled to run for 7 weeks every Sunday starting April 19th.  The class will be split into the following age brackets:

Ages 8-12 – 10:00am to 12:00pm

Ages 13-17 – 1:00pm to 3:00pm

Additionally, there will be a FREE orientation class for both age groups onSunday, April 12th, from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.  To reserve a seat, call the CAS office at 773-645-0222 or go to Young actors and parents are welcome to attend this free class, even if you haven’t registered yet for the full workshop.

Parents will have the option of purchasing a demo reel of their children, featuring clips from monologues and scenes they have performed in class, or brand new scenes shot outside of class. This reel can also include a slate video, which is often the first thing an agent wants to see when considering a new client.

This class is geared for those seriously interested in entering the professional world of the actor. If that is you and your child, you don’t want to miss this opportunity!

For your convenience, online registration is now open for this workshop, just click on the link below!


Voice and Diction Class Start Date Delayed until April 15th

Voice and Diction Class Begins April 15th

Greetings all!  Just a quick update about our upcoming Voice and Diction workshop.

CAS artistic director and vocal instructor Edward Dennis Fogell has been cast in a major role for the upcoming feature film, “To Catch A Fisherman.”  Due to a scheduled shooting date on April 8th, we need to delay the start of our Voice and Diction & Accent Reduction workshop an extra week, and the class will now begin on April 15th instead.

If you haven’t already registered for this workshop, remember that space is limited. Despite this extension, the class is filling up quickly, so to register before the class is completely full, call us at 773-645-0222, or register online at

The Importance of Skills Vs. Marketing

This article was originally published in the September, 2014 edition of the Chicago Actors Studio Online Newsletter.  To subscribe to the CAS newsletter and read more great and informative articles like this, sign up at

The Importance of Skills vs. Marketing

By: Edward Dennis Fogell

Acting Coach, Actor and Director

          There is much talk these days about how important marketing is to an actor’s career, as well as a seemingly endless stream of advice and opinion on the best ways to use all the different forms of new media. And while it is important for actors to take advantage of opportunities to get themselves out there, there is an essential question that needs to be addressed before any campaign is launched: Are you ready for the market?

          Just because it’s easier than ever to market yourself doesn’t automatically mean that you should. I see many actors these days putting more time and effort into their marketing and much less time developing and growing their talent.

          While aggressive marketing may generate some opportunities for you, if you’re not truly ready to take advantage of those opportunities, you won’t deliver when it counts, and your campaign will be seen as just a bunch of empty promises.

          So when you spend a lot of time as well to get registered with an agency, for example, you are actually representing yourself to that agent, that you are a well-trained, skilled professional that can compete with other professional actors out there in the marketplace. You are able to compete with talent submitted from other agencies for the same jobs. In essence, make that agent an income.  If that is not what walks in their door the first time, or if that is not the results of when they send you out to a few auditions, I guarantee that it will be a cold day in Hatties, before they send you out or even ever see you again to register with them. So you want to be more than adequately trained and prepared the first time.

          In most businesses new products are put through rigorous, sometimes years-long testing processes before a marketing campaign and launch are even considered. Assuming that you as an actor are in business for yourself and that the product being marketed is you, let’s take three of the guiding principles that many Fortune 500 companies use to determine the readiness of a product, and see if they can help you to determine your readiness for the marketplace.

1.  Are your skills professional grade? Before a marketing campaign can be considered, the manufacturer must be confident that the elements of the product are strong, dependable and high functioning.

          Given that there is no official definition of what a professional actor is, in this country at least, it’s up to each actor, through training, reflection, and experience to define it for themselves before entering the professional arena. Here are some questions that may help you see if your work is up to the high standard needed to be a working actor:

a)  Can you break down a script or a set of sides into playable beats and then find where the writer’s intent and your intent for character intersect?

b)  Do you immediately recognize if the piece is comedy or drama and if so, which specific type of comedy or drama?

c)  Do you know how to shift your preparation to suit the primary needs of the five most prevalent genres?

d)  Do you know how to adjust your work without throwing it away?

e)  Are you able to use the camera to create job-getting moments?

f)   Are you as alive when you’re listening as you’re when you’re speaking?

g)  Can you quickly make the choices that bring even the most mundane piece to life?

Think of more questions and define what professional grade work is to you—there is certainly more than one definition.

          But I will say this: If you are like many actors who are more invested in the dream of an acting career as opposed to the reality, and your definition of being professional is taking a little to no classes, doing some networking, and waiting for the universe to line up with your wishes, go no further. No one in a position to employ you sees that as professional. You still have a lot of work to do—and I don’t mean just repeating affirmations or picturing yourself winning an Oscar. Those visions are important in themselves—but along with that, real, invested, strategic work needs to be done, before you should consider entering the marketplace.

          As an actor, you are actually in business for yourself. You have your own company and THE PRODUCT you are selling is YOU. So when a new product enters any marketplace, it is in competition with other companies selling their product. Lets look at basic business approaches of any new product being offered to potential consumers.

2. Do you fill a gap in the marketplace? Before a product is launched, the manufacturer needs to be sure that there is a genuine need for it or that it is a noticeable improvement over similar products already on the market.

So, what about you? What need do you fill in the acting universe and how do you improve on the talents of the actors who are currently successful? What is it that you have that no one else does – what is that certain something? (And please don’t mistake this for some tired old idea of “branding.” I’m talking about really getting interested in your own inner uniqueness—digging deep and exploring the four corners of your emotional life to find the specific qualities and manifestations that are yours and yours alone.)

Do you aspire to simply blend in to the current acting landscape or do you aspire to change it? And if you aspire to change it, how much are you willing to risk to do so?

Simply put, at this point in your career, does your work make a difference, does it elevate the art form of acting, or does it just get the job done?

3. Are you ready to compete with the best? The last phase in market testing is often putting the new product up against existing products of the same type to see if it can match and/or exceed what is already available.

So, if you’ve determined that you’re a true professional and you have something to offer that is needed, let’s see if it will all hold up in the real world.

Your agent calls at 10 a.m. and needs you to get to FOX for a 2 p.m. audition for a guest star role on an hour-long procedural.

a)  Do you have a way of preparing that allows you to deeply and creatively access and apply your most compelling qualities to the role and deliver the read with beautiful listening and clear strong technique—fast?

b)  Would you know how long it would take to get to the studio and where to park?

c)  Do you know how to find the office?

d)  Once there, are you able to take care of yourself and stay strong in the waiting room even when you see eight former series regulars waiting to go in for the same role?

e)  Are you a strong and interesting presence in the audition room?

f)  Is every word that you read improved by the personal and compelling choices you’ve made?

g)  Do you give the people casting the confidence to hire you?

h)  And could you leave that audition and do it all again for a comedy pilot audition at Paramount at 4 p.m.? And get call backs for both?

A pro would have the chops, the presence, the skill, the flexibility, and the attitude to see it all as an exciting challenge—and wouldn’t break a sweat.

Passion and desire are very important, but alone, are not a substitute for talent and professional readiness, and success doesn’t grow out of meaningless, unfocused activity. Success naturally evolves from training, skills, preparedness and a clear straitgy meeting up with opportunity, that results in taking the right action at the right time with the right effort.

So as you make your plans for the new year, be sure that putting time and effort toward the activities that support you as an actor and as an artist are highest on your list. The success of your marketing campaign, your business and your career depend on it.

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From the CAS newsletter: Some Guidelines To A Great Performance.

This article was originally published in the October issue of the Chicago Actors Studio newsletter.  If you want to subscribe to the CAS monthly newsletter, sign up at

Some Guidelines To A Great Performance


By: Edward Dennis Fogell
Acting Coach, Actor and Director

If Acting is believing the performer in that role, what constitutes good acting?

While traveling the globe for 15 years as a musician and singer, I have opened concerts for such names as Donna Summer, The Jacksons, Frank Sinatra Jr. and more. Now I’m an actor, director, teacher and producer, working with actors for more years than I’d like to count. I am also the artistic director and owner of the Chicago Actors Studio and Complete Video Services & Film Productions. Here are some of mine and other learned and experienced casting directors definitions of good acting. I want to strongly stress that if one person states “Pacino is great,” and you disagree, it doesn’t make anyone right or wrong. It just means there are different tastes.

First: An actor is good if he makes one believe he’s actually going through whatever his character is going through. I’m talking somewhat about physical stuff (“He really is getting shot!” “He really is jumping off a moving train!”) but mostly about psychological stuff (“He really is scared!” “He really is in love!”). If an actor seems to be faking it, he’s not doing his job.

Second: The actor has to be surprising. This is the most nebulous requirement, but it’s important. Except for really small parts that aren’t supposed to call attention to themselves (e.g., a bank teller who just cashes the hero’s checks), it’s not enough for actors to just seem real. Seeming real is a requirement, but a second requirement is that the viewer can’t predict their every reaction before they have them. Think of how someone might react if his or her significant other ends the relationship. There are many, many truthful ways—ways that would seem like a human being reacting and not like a space alien behaving in some bizarre, unbelievable way. An actor’s job is to know the breadth of human possibility and the depths of his or her own possibilities. He or she must pull from this well and surprise us. Otherwise, the actor becomes boring and predictable.

There are many ways an actor can surprise. Gary Oldman surprises us by being truthful while playing multiple, very different roles. Jack Nicholson surprises by being … surprising. Even though he’s not a chameleon like Oldman, you never know what he’s going to do next. But whatever he does, it’s grounded in psychological reality. It never seems fake. Christopher Walken, Glenn Close, Al Pacino, and many others have a surprising danger in them. They’re a little scary to be around, because you feel they might jump you or blow up at you at any time. They are ticking time bombs. And, of course, many comedic actors (e.g., Julia Louis-Dreyfus) surprise us in all sorts of quirky, zany ways. Or watch Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby—absolutely surprising and absolutely truthful.

Third: The actor is vulnerable. Great actors share the parts of themselves that most people keep hidden. They are always naked. (I’m talking about emotional nakedness.) Bad actors are guarded. They don’t want to share the parts of themselves that are ugly, mean, petty, jealous, etc.

There are so many examples of actors being naked onstage and screen. Example: Rosalind Russell in the movie Picnic. She plays a middle-aged teacher who is in danger of growing old and dying alone. There’s a heartbreaking scene in which she begs a man to marry her. She goes down on her knees in front of him. She gives up every scrap of dignity inside her and lets the scared, hurting parts of herself burst out. These are the same scared, hurt parts that are inside all of us—the parts we work hard to hide.

This ties in with everything I wrote above: When actors are exposed and raw, it’s always surprising. And if it doesn’t seem real, there’s no point in it. In fact, this sort of emotional nakedness is very hard to fake. If you ever get a sense that an actor is showing you a secret part of himself, he probably is. Examples are Julianne Moore, Bryan Cranston, and Michael Redgrave in The Browning Version. He turns himself inside out and wrings out all his pain.

Fourth: The actor knows how to listen. It’s fascinating to watch actors when they’re not speaking. Some are too caught up in ego or technicalities (e.g., trying to remember the next line) to totally focus on whomever it is they’re acting with. Others seem to register everything they hear. You can see whatever is being said to them physically affecting them, as if the words are slapping them across the face. Watch Claire Danes. She’s an amazing listener.

Fifth: The actor has a well-honed “instrument,” by which I mean he/she knows how to use their voice and body to serve whatever role he’s/she’s playing. This doesn’t necessarily mean one is slim and has a six-pack; James Gandolfini used his body well. It means the actor knows how to move and talk in expressive ways. The voice and body aren’t fighting the actor or holding tension that’s inappropriate to his/her role.

Dustin Hoffman was great because he embodied all of these traits. He was vocally and physically gifted. He wasn’t in great shape, but he used the shape he had in expressive ways. If you watch him closely when he’s not speaking, you’ll see he always listened to his co-stars closely. What they say affected him deeply, and his reactions grew organically out of whatever they had previously said or done to him. He was profoundly vulnerable. Always. This was his most distinctive trait. You always knew what you were getting from him was raw and honest. It was this rawness—as well as intelligence and a sly sense of humor—that made his work surprising and fresh. And I never once saw anything from him that seemed fake.

A bad or average actor often seems as if they are reading from cue cards rather than saying words that are theirs. There is a difference between playing an undemonstrative person and being a wooden actor. In fact, playing someone who is reserved is very difficult (because you have to act without showing very much), and the actors who pull it off are brilliant. I would point to Anthony Hopkins in Remains of the Day, Tommy Lee Jones in many of his roles, and even Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. These actors manage to convey the sense that although they have stony exteriors there’s much going on underneath.

Some actors sound as if they are reciting or reading something. They sound scripted. Their performance sounds like line-readings as if that actor has not fully lifted them off the page and into their own mind and body. I don’t believe much else is going on underneath except maybe nervousness. Look at Tommy Lee Jones. The difference, for me, is that Jones seems to be speaking his own words, even though they are scripted. Jones is comfortable in his skin and able to “own” his lines.

But some people think an actor is cool because he or she is in this action film with special effects or bombs blowing off everywhere If some other actor had been in those films, those same people would have liked that other actor, even if the actor lacked many skills, but since the actor plays the protagonist, they focus on that actor and think they are good.

To sums this all up and quote from all the agents, producers and talent managers we recently had speak at our Business of Acting Seminar, training, training, training and good solid training at that. One or two acting classes is not going to secure a career. Steal from the great actors and make what you’ve discover your own. Get those cameras out and practice in front of them often. See what others see. It may be painful to watch, but as in sports, “no pain, no gain”. As I often say to my acting students, here at The Chicago Actors Studio, “If you keep doing things the same way, the names and places may change, but the end results will be the same.”

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Registration Open for Free Kids and Teens On-Camera Workshop

Free Kids and Teens On-Camera Workshop


In preparation for our upcoming On-Camera workshop for kids and teens, there will be a FREE orientation class for both age groups on Sunday, April 12th, from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.

This free class will introduce your child to many of the skills they can expect to learn in the full workshop, including, but not limited to:

—The concept of slating, and creating a slate video

—Cold reading for TV, commercial and film scripts

—Interacting in a scene with another actor

—Developing an Audition Monologue

—The dos and don’ts of auditioning

-Understanding movement on-camera, and how it differs from stage

To reserve a seat, call the CAS office at 773-645-0222, or click on the link below. Young actors and parents are welcome to attend this free class, even if you haven’t registered yet for the full workshop.


Space in this free workshop is limited, so make sure you reserve a spot today, before it’s too late!

Internship Positions Open at CAS!


The Chicago Actors Studio is looking for a few talented, enthusiastic interns! Ideal candidates will have a passion for TV, film or theatrical acting or improv.

We are especially looking to recruit individuals who possess at least one or more of the following attributes: strong graphic design skills (Quark, Photoshop, WordPress, etc.) Mac friendly and/or Lighting/PA/Camera production assistant experience. Must have a positive attitude and a willingness to do whatever it takes to keep the theatre running smoothly including administrative work, running errands, cleaning or helping out during a TV production or casting call. Having your own vehicle is a plus.

No pay but you will receive 20-weeks of free acting classes, huge discounts on future workshops/seminars and the opportunity to interact with leading industry professionals. Interns only need to make a commitment of two days a week!

Please email Patricia with your resume at, or call us at 773-645-0222 and tell us a little about not only your skills but who you are and why you want to intern for our company.

Thanks and hope to hear from you soon!

New Session Of Voice & Diction Class Starting April 8th


New session begins April 8th, 2015

Speech is one of the most essential tools, not only for actors but for many professions.  The way we speak and the intonation of our voice showcases a lot about our personality.  In this class students are taught how to use their voice properly and develop it to its full potential.  Whether you’re planning on acting for the stage or screen, or just delivering a presentation at work, this class is essential to fluently communicate and express yourself with ease and confidence.

$216 – Regular Price
$144 – Current AAAC Students


CAS welcomes new instructor, Dr. Chris Aruffo


We would like to welcome a new instructor to the Chicago Actors Studio family!

Dr. Christopher Aruffo (teacher, actor, director) has performed in and directed more than 60 plays in the US, the UK, and Canada. Currently based in Chicago, Dr. Aruffo has taught acting classes and workshops at all age levels for more than 13 years, and is the author of A Rational Guide to Verse: Scansion Made Simple, a guide to Shakespearean language.  He worked at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, CA on films including Batman and Robin, Sphere, My Fellow Americans, and Tin Cup.  He is a dialect coach and voiceover artist, and has recorded thirteen volumes of the Edgar Allan Poe Audiobook Collection. He earned his Master of Fine Arts in Acting Performance from the University of Florida and his Ph.D. from McMaster University.  Dr. Aruffo’s TEDx talk, explaining why people talk with an accent, can be seen on YouTube.


Dr. Aruffo’s teaching focuses on bringing out the natural actor in you.  His ongoing professional research explores how actors can bring their natural skills and talents to the stage.  Through scientifically designed exercises and exciting scenework, Dr. Aruffo’s students learn how to communicate more effectively, listen more intently, and discover their hidden potential.

Christopher Aruffo is the new instructor for our preparatory level Acting As A Craft course held on Monday nights from 7:00pm to 11:00pm.  To register for his class, call us at 773-645-0222, or just follow the link below.