About

Philosophy:

Now what about actors? We show up and good for that. With the best of intentions we develop habits, many of them involuntary. Some give us a career, but we wonder why we’re not having as much fun as we used to. We seek spontaneity, but get onstage or to set and perform exactly the way we did at the kitchen counter. We feel this problem is unique to acting. We are unable to see similarities between art forms, only differences. Actors, like every other kind of artist, are growing, changing and need to practice. It’s amazing that we think we don’t need to.

First and foremost, acting is embarrassing. It’s way better when it is. We need a space to break patterns and habits, to stop worrying about whether it’s polished enough, to develop new points of view, to know not just know what the characters want, but why they deserve to get it. I believe breath connects us to emotional and physical impulses and that cannot be emphasized enough. I believe in comprehensive script analysis and working moment to moment to achieve visceral objectives. In front of the camera and onstage at The Dirt, this pursuit is not sacred and is full of silliness and joy.

The Dirt Underneath has been open for business since 2014. Working actors at the top of their game are practicing here year round. I taught and trained at the Professional Actors Lab for nine years, two at Equity Showcase and conduct workshops at Bishop’s University. As a young man I trained at Bishop’s and Studio 58 in Vancouver. I direct, act and continue to study in Toronto. Actors need a place to practice. To dig in the dirt.

-John Gordon

Our Team:

John Gordon – Artistic Director + Acting Instructor

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I taught and studied at the Professional Actors Lab for 9 years. At Equity Showcase, I trained for 5 and taught for 2 years. As a young man I trained at Bishop’s University and Studio 58 in Vancouver. I direct, act and continue to study in Toronto. ‘But why is it called The Dirt Underneath Actors’ Space?’ Actors need a place to practice. To dig in the dirt.

Classes Taught at The Dirt: Shooting On-Location Scene Study, Online Scene Study, On Camera Scene Study, On-Camera Scene Study (Master Class)

Contact: john@dirtunderneath.com

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Shaun McComb – Acting Instructor

Shaun is a graduate of Humber College’s Theatre Performance. He completed the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre Training at the Stratford Festival under principal David Latham. Shaun had a short stint in the MFA program at York University and is now currently completing his MA at the University of Guelph where he is also teaching acting. Along the way Shaun also studied privately with a variety of on-camera coaches including John Gordon. Shaun splits his time between Toronto and Guelph, where he grew up.

Classes Taught at The Dirt: Self-Tape Study, On-Camera Scene Study

Contact:  shaun@dirtunderneath.com

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Peter N. Bailey – Voice Instructor

Peter grew up in Toronto, Ontario and graduated from the Humber College Theatre Performance program in 2003. Since then, his work has led him to work with theatre companies throughout Ontario, as well as Quebec, Nova Scotia, Calgary and Saskatchewan. Peter’s love and respect for the theatre has grown in direct relation to his deepening understanding of the nature of the work and what it can do for those who chose to engage with it either as a spectator or participant. Most importantly his years of experience has taught him what art, in all its various disciplines can contribute to an individuals life, and ultimately society’s.

Classes Taught at The Dirt: The Voice Within (Voice Class)

Contact:  peter@dirtunderneath.com

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Cynthia Chan – Administrative Director + Instructor of Coaching/Mindfulness Workshops

Cynthia’s main roles at The Dirt include updating the website, scheduling classes and managing studio rental as well as facilitating Coaching + Mindfulness Workshops.   In between working at The Dirt, she can be found at King West Chiropractic where she has worked as a chiropractor, co-owning the clinic since 1999 and working as a life coach.

Administrative questions can be emailed to: info@dirtunderneath.com

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Britt MacLennan – Social Media Coordinator

Britt is a Toronto actor who has been a student at The Dirt since 2017. She started her career in NYC with a small theatre group after studying at The Barrow Group and Atlantic Theatre Company. Since moving back to Canada in 2016, Britt’s enjoyed learning, growing, and working as an actor. She loves being a part of The Dirt community and is excited to be a part of the team.