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2013/07/21

Maureen Cashin Bolog

by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

When thinking of finding a top-notch acting coach in the US, many people’s minds might automatically wander to Los Angeles.   I’m sure that it would be unexpected for them to find out that one resides and teaches in the Midwest; specifically, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Maureen Cashin Bolog
Many years ago, on a winter afternoon that was one of the most bitterly cold in over a decade, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maureen Cashin Bolog, owner of Actor’s Craft, and the top-notch acting coach mentioned above.  After welcoming me into her home, Maureen told me that she’d "put the kettle on", and was preparing hot tea for us (the prefect chance for me to defrost.) As she pulled out mugs and prepared our tea, I found that instead of being the "interviewer" myself, Maureen was asking about me, something that I haven’t encountered often in interviews since. Originally, our meeting was only supposed to last for forty-five minutes. Nearly four hours later, I left Maureen's home, warmed by not only the tea, but the company and conversation.

One of the first things I realized as we began to talk that day is that Maureen has a deep passion and enthusiasm for what she does.  With a master’s degree in television and film, she’s had the opportunity to study with some of the biggest names in the acting/coaching industry, including Ivana Chubbuck, whom Maureen has studied with many times. Maureen has the distinction of being the only acting coach in the Great Lakes area officially certified to teach The Chubbuck Technique. For those not familiar with Chubbuck, she’s one of the people that Halle Barry thanked when she accepted her Oscar, and has also worked with celebrities such as Beyonce and Charlize Theron.  Maureen has also studied with Howard Fine, once described as the "#1 Acting Coach To the Stars", and she uses the Haber phrase technique of Margie Haber, who’s also worked with many top actors.

Maureen and Ivana Chubbuck
Maureen brings all of that experience back to Kenosha when she coaches and teaches at Actor’s Craft, the business she started in 2005 to offer classes and programs for adults, teens and children.   She’s described her classes as being much more than your typical assembly line: "we're here for ten weeks and then you move on to the next class".  Instead, Maureen believes that as an acting coach/teacher, she needs to invest herself in the individual, paying attention to the details of their acting in order to help them be successful.   Her emphasis is that what one needs to do as an actor is to put yourself into a character, not the other way around. You have to consider how you would act and react if you lived in that time period, place, or in the circumstances in the script. Otherwise, she believes, if you're not bringing yourself to the roll, you risk playing not a character, but rather a caricature.

And with Wisconsin being called "the third coast" (the L.A., CA area and New York are the others) as far as the acting and film industries are concerned, Maureen and many others believe that the pieces are in place to make things happen. With more productions being filmed in the Midwest and with the opening of RDI in the Milwaukee region, she said it's not just a pipedream to have exciting film industry opportunities here in Wisconsin. The RDI studios feature three soundstages, in addition to dressing rooms and production offices, putting a lot of potential at Wisconsinites' fingertips.

Maureen and actor/Wisconsin native Tony Shalhoub at the RDI opening gala
Maureen has also worked (and still is working) with clients that have hearing or cognitive impairments. She counts them among the most dedicated of her students, and says that some of the techniques that they've practiced with her in class have had a positive impact on their daily lives.

She's also has been visiting residents of Woodstock Health and Rehabilitation Center in Kenosha for many years, offering activities for seniors that help them to find common ground and build camaraderie. "Our goal is to engage the senses as we stimulate creative thinking and facilitate friendships among residents, with integrity and and respect for the lives they lived, and continue to live", Maureen says.  

Maureen with some senior program participants 
Maureen has even expanded her programs to work with business professionals, helping them hone their public speaking and presentation skills.  She believes that the same techniques that help actors play powerful characters onscreen can help executives compete successfully too. She combined steps of the Chubbuck Technique, the "Physical Actor" program she created, as well as strategies used by Fortune 500 companies to create a new program called "The Dynamic Executive". Maureen is now using this program to work with professionals in medical, automotive, legal, industrial, and corporate fields.

The list of Maureen and Actor's Craft success stories is a long one, with clients going on to plenty of major projects and productions.  For example, student Aaron Farb first began studying at Actor's Craft before moving to Los Angeles, and has had roles in the movie 42, the second season premiere of GrimmDrop Dead Diva, and worked as a body double for Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises.  Another client won a $10,000 scholarship to New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, and credited Maureen with helping him reach that goal.  Some of Actor's Craft's child students have also used their acting skills to land roles in a Disney TV series, being cast as Simba in a The Lion King show in Las Vegas, acting in television commercials, and even appearing in music videos.

"It's important that I keep studying to improve.  I want to bring a (high caliber of training) back to Kenosha", Maureen told me when I first interviewed her, and based on the success that her students have enjoyed over the years, it seems that she's continuing to do just that.


To learn even more about Maureen Cashin Bolog and Actor's Craft, visit the website at www.actorscraftwisconsin.com.

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