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Meisner heads for Helsinki!

Updated: Sep 24, 2019

Co-Founder of The Actors Temple Ellie Zeegen asks MD & Tutor Ashlie Walker about her travelling & teaching plans.

Tell us how the Helsinki trip came about? AW: We are always keen to share the work we do, with students travelling from all over the world to train with us. Sometimes though we get the opportunity to take the work to them! One of our advanced students asked me to go and I jumped at the chance- though I had no idea how cold it would be! The idea was to introduce the work to a network of new and working actors based in Helsinki. There seems to be a community of actors but not really enough support or infrastructure at the moment for them to access top quality training.

What was travelling on your own like? Glorious. Although Nita took good care of me so I never really felt alone.

If Helsinki had a theme tune what would it be? That’s hilarious. Will need to think more on this one.

What was the highlight of the course? There were many.  For me, there is a highlight with each student. It is when you see something land in them….. really land. This looks different for everyone, but it’s unmistakable and it’s why I started teaching in the first place. You see this shift…. Like a lightbulb…. you know that they are at the beginning of a very real journey… it’s followed by a lightness. To be present for this moment, is the greatest gift in the world.

Describe your students in 5 words?

Open. Courageous. Trusting. Generous. Gentle.

What was the classroom like? We had 2 different spaces. One was a large airy room, with spring floors, curtains and a stage area. It was useful to allow them to really fill the space. The second was a very intimate room, with sofas, soft furnishings and a homely feel. This made for a very different experience. We often spent more time reflecting and coming together when using this room.

If someone had one day to spend in Helsinki what would you recommend they do? Take a sauna, eat cinnamon buns & skinny dip in the icy sea…

What was the most memorable experience of the whole trip for you? See above. This pretty much sums up my first 2 hours in Helsinki….

What's the most valuable piece of advice you've been given in life? Wow... A lesson I've learnt which is probably a culmination of many pieces of advice.... enquiry and experience, is it's not what happens to us that matters... but how we respond.

What do you feel the course gave to the participants? Space and time to experience something that life doesn't always allow for...

What qualities does teaching give you? It's incredibly humbling.... I always feel very privileged to do this work. I want the space to feel safe fore students and it always feels incredibly safe for me too.

If you could teach somewhere else in the world where would it be and why? Italy. I simply adore Italy. The Italians know a thing or two about expressing themselves too.... Or Singapore... so we could explore my daughters roots.

Why is taking the teaching of The Actors Temple abroad important to you?

Never has the world been more accessible but invisible borders more felt. The thing about this work is it doesn't matter where you're from, your religion, the language you speak, your background or acting experience.... all that matters is you show up with curiosity. It's important for me that we do not work or live in isolation....and the Actors Temple embodies this ethos. It is a mode for us to reach out and connect, on many levels. I'm already excited to welcome some of the Helsinki students into our community when they visit next month.

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