GFCA Tutor-Emeritus: Christopher Fettes
Christopher Fettes is one of the great theatre and actor pedagogues of the UK, and indeed, world theatre and the cinema industry. He began as an actor, working with the legendary East London Theatre Company – Theatre Workshop under Joan Littlewood. He went on to join the ensemble at the Royal Court theatre in London during its heyday in the fifties with George Devine and Tony Richardson.
After meeting Yat Malmgren, Christopher developed a career as an educator, and as a theatre director of some renown. He directed a number of famous productions – notably his seminal interpretation of Marlowe’s Dr Faustus and Schniztler’s The Lonely Road with two of his acting students, Anthony Hopkins and Colin Firth – introduced the work of Calderon de la Barca to the British stage – and created a fascination with the work of Thomas Bernhard.
Christopher’s great contribution came with his joint founding with Yat Malmgren in 1963 of the Drama Centre London, an acting conservatoire that in it’s day, changed the face of training in the UK and around the world. They introduced the Method to the UK, initially with the great UK method actor Harold Lang teaching at the centre, and then by inviting Uta Hagen’s protege Doreen Cannon to head the acting department. Later, an assistant of Lee Strasberg, Reuven Adiv took over the department.
Christopher’s innovation was to combine the American developments of Stanislavski with the great European Classical tradition, and the Laban Jungian system of ‘Character Analysis’ as developed by Yat Malmgren. Initially seen as a dissident organisation by the British acting world who didn’t want to endure the demands of actually ‘feeling’ something ‘for real’ as was demanded by the Method, the school kept producing notable actors.
There are huge numbers of recognised British actors who owe their training to Yat and Christopher, including Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Michael Fassbender, Paul Bettany, Tom Hardy, Anne Marie Duff, Geraldine James, Frances de la Tour, Tara Fitzgerald, Helen McCrory, John Simm among many others. Graduates of the academy run National Theatres all over the world, while others like Giles head drama schools based on the original Drama Centre model.
To honour and preserve the work of Yat Malmgren (who died in 2002), Christopher wrote the defining book about Character Analysis / Movement Psychology – A Peopled Labyrinth. It is the only book that deals comprehensively with the subject of ‘The Histrionic Sense’ or the Law of Expression. The book was published by GFCA Publishing in September 2015, and is available to purchase from the GFCA London Studio for personal visitors, and also via Amazon.co.uk. Christopher has now retired, however we honour his towering achievements.
Barbara specialises in the combination of the methodological approach to acting, with the groundbreaking technique of Movement Psychology. She is based in Zürich, Switzerland, and works as a teacher and coach all over Europe. She has taught a great number of actors and introduced directors to the challenges of acting, in weekly classes and workshops. In recent years Barbara has taught in Paris, London, Berlin, Munich and Madrid as well as all over Switzerland.
Barbara owes her craft to the master teachers of Drama Centre London, Christopher Fettes and Reuven Adiv; and the second generation including Giles Foreman, with whom she has been teaching for many years; together they co-founded Caravanserai Productions & Acting Studio in London in 2005. Since 2012 the studio has been based in Soho as Giles Foreman Centre For Acting, and has established itself as an internationally leading centre for the teaching of Method acting and Character Analysis.
Barbara increasingly works with individual directors, supporting them in their analysis and development of scripts. She has coached many actors in their preparation for castings and roles: among others Carla Juri, Matthias Hungerbühler, Delia Mayer, Oriana Schrage, Michael Neuenschwander for “Dällebach Kari“ (Xavier Koller, 2011), “Fossil” (Alex Walker, 2014), “Dead Fucking Last“ (Walter Feistle, 2012), “Das Missen Massaker” (Michael Steiner, 2012), Tatort (2014), “Vaterjagd” (Rahel Grunder, 2014), “Der Bestatter” (2014), “Finsteres Glück” (2015). Barbara regularly works as a voiceover artist and on staged readings; in the last few years, together with Siri Hustvedt, Shirin Ebadi, Dame Ruth Rendell, Donna Leon, Alice Schwarzer and Andrea Levy.
Lena Lessing started off in the 1980s as a film actress, working with such exquisite actors as Donald Sutherland and Geraldine Chaplin, Bob Hoskins and Kate Winslet. Parallel to her acting career she began working as an Acting Coach in 1996, and as a German Dialect Coach in 2003.
She has coached Michael Fassbender, Kate Blanchett, Grispin Glover, Nina Hoss, Julia Jentsch, Laura Tonke, Michael Neuenschwander and many other wonderful actors. She works mainly in Berlin, but also in Switzerland, Italy, France, Luxembourg, Hungary, Poland and the UK. In 2016 an actress with whom she had been working for years, Laura Tonke won the Lola as Best Actress, and as Best Supporting Actress at the Deutscher Filmpreis, the German equivalent of the American Academy Awards.
Evdokimos graduated from the Drama School of Northern Greece, and continued his studies in drama, acting and directing in New York at the H.B. Studio, and Actor’s Studio with a Fulbright Scholarship. He has worked as an actor in many troups, including the State Theatre of Northern Greece, the National Theatre of Greece, and the Regional Theatre of Crete and Thrace. He participated in many film and television productions and directed plays in Greece and abroad. He is the founder and the Artistic Director of Theatre of Changes, Athens. He teaches in Rome, Stockholm, Istanbul, Tbilisi, New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Kathmandu as well as Greece. He was chairman of the jury at the International Theatre Festival in Agadir (Morocco 2007), organises an annual meeting of theatre makers from around the world, and authored books and plays.
Roberta made her professional acting debut at 16 in the film version of The Effect Of Gamma-Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds opposite Joanne Woodward and directed by Paul Newman.
She studied at The Neighborhood Playhouse, HB Studio, and with such masters as Lee Strasberg, Robert Lewis, Susan Batson, Gary Austin, Sondra Seacat, Giles Foreman, Andreas Manolikakis, and Elizabeth Kemp.
She became a member of The Actors Studio in 1980.She has taught and coached privately for over twenty five years … at The New York Film Academy, the former “Black Nexxus” (now, The Susan Batson Studio),at HB Studio, at Yoko Narahashi’s school, UPS (United Performer’s Studio) in Tokyo – and in London and Paris for GFCA
As an actor, she has worked on television, on film and on stage, with such extraordinary artists as: Bette Davis, Ruth Gordon, Garson Kanin, Susan Batson, Shelley Winters, Arthur Penn, Anne Jackson, Eli Wallach, Tony Danza, Frank Corsaro, James Gandolfini, Brian Murray, Eileen Heckert, Kate Valk, Anne Meara, Doug Hughes, Elizabeth Franz, Lynn Cohen, Melanie Mayron, Robert Glaudini, Larry Pine, Olivia Wilde, Melissa McCarthy, and many others.
Roberta appeared in the films Rabbit Hole with Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart; directed by John Cameron Mitchell, Last I Heard, starring Paul Sorvino, Michael Rappaport and Paul Ben Victor, Emerald City directed by Colin Broderick, Can You Ever Forgive Me with Melissa McCarthy, and on HBO’s Vinyl, produced by Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese. During the recent pandemic, she appeared in the 3-part short film, Driftwood, which has been nominated for and has won several awards. Boy Wonder; That’s What She Told Me (shown at the New York International Film Festival).