Meet Conservatory Instructor Richard Soto

Danielle Bliss & Beth Fhaner
 | Jun 25, 2018
Soto Richard_topper

​Teacher ​Richard Soto

SCR isn’t just a great place to see live theatre; it’s also a great place to learn about different aspects of theatre. On a year-round basis, SCR’s Theatre Conservatory offers acting classes for kids, teens and adults in the safe environment of our Tony Award-winning theatre. Led by experienced professional artists, students engage in lively instruction and deepen their understanding of the craft of acting, all while developing important life skills. Students can select from various classes including Summer Acting Workshop (a two-week theatre camp that's like a sampler of the year-round Conservatory classes), Musical Theatre, Playwriting, Acting for the Camera, Improv and much more. In this ongoing series, we’re introducing some of the instructors. Meet ​Richard Soto.

Which teacher inspired you in your acting studies―and in what way?
The teacher who inspired me to a deeper understanding of the craft was Sabin Epstein, a former resident director with American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T., San Francisco), and A Noise Within, where I was a resident artist. He was very detail-oriented and very much about specifics, as well as style. He wouldn’t let you get away with just making any choice in character building, or any other aspect of the storytelling process. I gained a lot of confidence, and learned a great deal from him.

What should students expect when they walk into class?
Fun! Lots of enthusiasm and support. I’m very passionate about acting and probably even more, teaching the craft to someone looking for a creative experience. To encourage my students in making creative choices, I tell them that they can do no wrong, and that I’m their biggest fan. Any choice is better than no choice and gives them something to start with. I’m trying to build their confidence.

What’s your best class memory of an “aha!” moment for a student?
Oh, there are so many! ​A recent favorite was when a somewhat insecure student​—as we can all be in dealing with new experiences​—was over-thinking his task. He had to let go and trust that all the work he had done would be there to support his choices. It had to come from the heart and he had to be in the moment, experiencing everything the character was going through. He eventually did and it was truly touching and emotional. He knew it, too, we all did. You can tell.

What do you learn from your students?
I have learned that people crave expression, any creative outlet, that lets them feel and connect emotionally with others. I have learned that, while I, too, enjoy being creative, there is a greater reward and a greater sense of fulfillment in helping others find their creative voice.

Are acting classes (improv classes, playwriting, etc.) only for folks interested in acting?
Absolutely not. One can gain a greater appreciation for creative process of acting and an appreciation for all arts. To be creative in acting, one has to take risks that involve showing emotional choices and working with other individuals, so it improves self-confidence and trust with others. When a student asks of the character they are playing, ‘Who are you?, they are using empathy, so it brings a person outside of their own world. Listening, focusing skills and collaborating with others are also benefits.

How would your students describe your teaching style?
Passionate, playful, energetic and socially active. I play to have serious fun!

Why might acting classes be scary for some folks and how can they overcome that fear?
It involves being playful and childlike​—for many adults it has been a long time since they’ve simply had fun playing and using their imagination. No one needs permission to be creative or to play, so don’t judge yourself.

What’s your favorite dessert?
Ice cream, flan or a good cookie!

Learn more about year-round acting classes at SCR's Theatre Conservatory.