extreme culture

nFOCUS: Michael Thompson, actor/teacher


Michael Thompson is a familiar name in the Brevard theater scene. He has performed all over, directed, and always with integrity and, yes, intensity.

Now, after being asked over and over if he was going to teach again, he’s getting ready to lead an acting class at Surfside Playhouse.

Michael Thompson as Scrooge in 'Scrooge: The Musical' at the Henegar Center

Michael Thompson as Scrooge in ‘Scrooge: The Musical’ at the Henegar Center

“We’ve got such a great theater community around here, I’m looking forward to having fun and helping people,” Mr. Thompson said. “You learn (how) to prepare your character and use the knowledge you gain from doing exercises and scenes in class to help you do magic on stage.”

A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, Mr. Thompson has quite a range. He has portrayed characters ranging from funny and poignant to scary and crazed.

Tori Smith and Michael Thompson as Edna and Harry in 'A Delicate Balance' at Melbourne Civic Theatre

Tori Smith and Michael Thompson as Edna and Harry in ‘A Delicate Balance’ at Melbourne Civic Theatre

As an actor, he really creeped us out in his turns as Renfield in ‘Dracula’…unnerved us as a serial killer in ‘Popcorn’…annoyed us (appropriately so) as tidy Harry in ‘A Delicate Balance’…cracked us up as Val in ‘Laughter on the 23rd Floor’…and yes, utterly delighted us all in his loveable, hug-able Ebeneezer Scrooge in ‘A Christmas Carol.’

“I’m not the guys I portray on stage,” Mr. Thompson said with what sounded like a twinkle in his voice. “I can do these characters (but) it’s not natural. You have to learn the tricks and ways and be serious about doing it…You let yourself go, get out of your comfort zone, walk in someone else’s shoes for a while, have that empathy.”

Michael Thompson as Renfield in 'Dracula' at Henegar Center

Michael Thompson as Renfield in ‘Dracula’ at Henegar Center

And, he said, observe. For one of his favorite characters, Gaston in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” he went into the old Satellite Beach Bait and Tackle shop to study the “older guys.”

“(Acting is) observation that you turn into this really cool energy.

As a director, Mr. Thompson loves taking on the fringe plays such as ‘Vampire Lesbians of Sodom,’ ‘The Laramie Project 10 Years Later,’ ‘Speech and Debate’ and even the mainstream fringe musical ‘Hair.’

He and his wife Susan Thompson run the production company “The Actors Asylum.” FYI, he works as a repair manager for a pool company, speaks German and a bit of Russian and, as an LGBT activist, he doesn’t pull any punches politically.

The class he will teach at Surfside Playhouse is called “Acting with Objective Realism.” It will include acting exercises and emotional recall exercises designed to bring out natural responses; and scene & character study.

The class will be held 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays Sept. 12 to Oct. 31 at Surfside Playhouse, 301 Ramp Road, Cocoa Beach. Cost is $155 per student. Ages 15 years and older. Call 321-783-3127 or email theatredude527@yahoo.com.