UCPA Acting Program

Technique Class
Each class will include relaxation preparations, group craft explorations and individual exercises related to liberating the “instrument” (oneself), eliminating emotional obstacles and learning to achieve a “being” state. Students learn through scene/character work, improvisation, cold-readings, and monologue work. The methodology is based on the “Eric Morris System” (Method) technique to fulfill emotional obligations of dramatic material from an organic, honest place.   Students have multiple opportunities to master their craft through various performance opportunities in our “on site’ theater as well as outside venues.  Don’t miss our upcoming performances in 2015:  THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, TAMING OF THE SHREW, SEVEN INTERVIEWS and other various scene study and workshop presentations for both children and adults!

acting rumi



Actor’s Specialty Class

Improvisation or other specialty class based on the Eric Morris System. Students must be enrolled into the acting program and attend the Monday night Technique Class to be able to participate in this class.


I met Gilda Pianelli at the UCPA in August, 1993. I was running a very succussful delicatessen/catering business at the time and I’d never taken an acting class in my life until that night…Originally planning on just sitting quietly and just observing what transpired during an actual “acting class”, I reluctantly got up on the stage. Onstage and semi-blinded by the lights, I answered as Gilda, several rows back in the audience, began asking me questions about why I was here, what I did for a living…and then about my family. Little did I realize at that time how incredibly skillful she was in her pursuit of an emotional level she was hoping to extract…and within 2 minutes, she got it out of me. Gilda led me down an emotional memory path so vivid in my mind…and at the precise moment of her choosing, she led me right into the monologue, which was the purpose of that exercise that night. After the class, Gilda came to me and…I remember her exact words as if spoken to me just last night…”if you give this up you’re a fool.” I understood. Completely.

I began studying with Gilda once a week and, whenever I could, two nights a week. After a year and a half, Gilda did something that, in retrospect, was one of the most unselfish and kind acts anyone has ever done for me. Before class one night, Gilda asked me to stay after the class so she could talk to me. Afterwards, when everyone had departed, we sat down to talk. She told me I had to leave. Leave UCPA.

That it was in MY best interest to leave. Gilda continued talking, praising, encouraging, imploring, and ultimately “convincing” me…that it was time for me to USE what she’d taught me…in the real world. That Los Angeles was where I needed to be. That I had more than enough skills and a mastery of the craft to handle myself with absolutely ANYONE in any scene, episodic or film anywhere. She said she HATED to see me go…but seeing me at UCPA every week, instead of seeing me on television or in the movies every week was not an option I should consider. That was an emotional and tearful time for me. Let’s face it…I wasn’t a kid..and I was about to completely up-end my entire life, which included my wife’s life. Sell my business. Leave that “comfort-zone” behind. Start over..in a career with…what?…98%+ enemployment rate? Yet here was this incredible woman…this amazing, passionate human being…telling me it was time for me to leave the roost, because MY time had come to go out and absolutely prove myself against the best the industry has to offer.

Gilda may not remember that night…not sure…but I will NEVER forget that night, EVER. It was an epiphany. That conversation; that pep-talk; that heart-felt plea to go out and use what I’d learned and do what so many others were hesitant to do…afraid to do…
And I did. Guest Starred on LAW & ORDER and COSBY in New York, then left for Los Angeles. Guest Starred for Steven Bochco 3 times; David E. Kelley 3 times. As of this writing, I’ve just wrapped my 45th Guest Starring on network TV, CRIMINAL MINDS (CBS).

Gilda, you’ll be my mentor, my teacher, my inspiration for this craft, and most of all…you’ll be my dear, dear friend…for life. I love you, G. You gave me the skills. You gave me the inspiration. I could never ask more of anyone.

Robert Catrini