Instructor does more than teach

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By Shardai Perry / Features Editor

By Shardai Perry / Features Editor

Zack Kraus, part time theatre teacher, part time actor and director, practices what he preaches.

Aside from his two theatre classes, intro to theater and acting for the camera, Kraus is directing a version of “Macbeth” in Los Angeles.

“I like active theatre, I took interest in this production because of the use of non-traditional space, it’s taking place in an old warehouse,” Kraus said.

Non traditional theatre is when a play is held somewhere other than the traditional theatre.

“It kinda has this bohemian feel,” he said.

When asked to describe “acting” he quotes Sandy Meisner, “Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”

Acting was only the first step for Kraus.

“In order to be a well rounded actor you have to know how to do a little of everything,” he said.

And that’s precisely what Kraus did.

“I’m not so much into producing, but this isn’t the first play that I’ve directed and it won’t be the last,” he said.

Kraus has been teaching at  Riverside City College since 2007, but acting since high school.

“I never wanted to become a teacher, but it’s been the best surprise of my life,” he said.

Kraus puts teaching on the same level as his passion for acting.

“Both give me the opportunity to change someone’s life,” he said.

Although Kraus has become quite fond of teaching, it’s been “trial and error” trying to balance it, with his passion for acting.

“When push comes to shove my priorities come first, if I have an audition the same day I have class, I have to go to class,” he said.

Unfortunately Kraus has missed auditions for class, but it just goes to show how dedicated of a teacher he really is.

In the long run, his technique in the acting world has actually helped him become a better teacher.

“Being on stage you realize the amount of energy it takes to obtain people’s attention for a certain amount of time,” he said.

Kraus learned soon after becoming a teacher the biggest difference between teaching and acting.

“Teaching puts you in a more vulnerable state than acting,” he said.

The classroom and the stage although both familiar places to him, require different parts of him.

“Teaching is all me. There’s nothing to hide behind, no character, no lines, no costumes, just me,” he said.

At the end of every class he may not get a standing ovation or even a “bravo!”

“I just want my students to leave with the ability to think critically, to question everything,  life as they know it,” he said.

Kraus may not be the best but, “I am me and nobody else is that.”

“Every once in a while, depending on the class and my mood, we’re able to have a open, meaningful dialogue, those are the moments I walk away feeling like I succeeded,” he said.

 Some days are better than others, whether you’re in the world of education or entertainment.

“There isn’t a formula for teaching or acting, every class, every play is a different experience,” he said.

He’s no Buddhist but he does believe “all we have is the present.”

“There are days I have no idea what I’m doing, and there are days I feel like I actually taught someone something,” he said.

Teaching and acting are similar in one way though, both audiences are judging you, whether it be consciously or unconscious.

“You really have to have a clear understanding of what you’re teaching, or rehearsing, because you’re being watched, tested even,” he said.

Whether he’s on stage or in class, he’s doing what he loves.

“Life is a constant learning process and I’m still a student, I don’t want to ever lose the ability to surprise myself,” he said.

As a teacher, for Kraus learning never stops.

“I believe in education more than anything,” he said.

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