Class Act

Take a moment… Rolling… Action!

I guess it was right after my marriage. I used to hang out around Sunset Strip, and smoke pot and say things like “down with the fuzz,” and “don’t trust anyone over thiiirty.”

A bronze-haired, busty woman adorned in turquoise jewelry breaks out into a rehearsed rant in a Brooklyn accent chewing imaginary gum. 

So I went the other way. I joined the Young Republicans Club of Ronald Reagan. But that was another mistake cuz uhh.. There’s no such thing as a young Republican!

The bashful look on her face signals the end of the monologue and simultaneously a booming clap emits from the back of the room. 

“Not bad! Let’s do it again,” says class instructor, Eric Nemoto. “This time I want you to go bigger. That was a six, seven. Let’s try to do this one at an eight.”

From my experience as a retired dancer, usually when a teacher says to “go bigger,” it means bigger moves. In Nemoto’s acting class, it means less moves and more emotion. “If you’re angry, be more angry. If you’re afraid, be even more afraid,” Nemoto says. “Feel the fear. If you feel it, your body language will come naturally.”

Nemoto soaked up similar instructions for five years from a weekly class taught by Richard Kindelon, casting director for the original Hawaii 5-0. “When he decided to retire, I thought it was the worst day of my life,” Nemoto says. “But there’s a reason why things happen and sometimes the worst thing in your life becomes the best thing.”

Making room for his burgeoning obsession with acting within his life as a nine-to-five, mortgage-paying, abiding family man, Nemoto accepted the baton and maintained the class taught by his mentor. Naturally, the weekly meet-ups formed a unit of dedicated actors and Nemoto establishes TAG, The Actor’s Group, now one of Hawaii’s premier community theatres. 

With the encouragement of his agent Ryan Brown from ADR Agency, the local celebrity currently teaches his own class using the original scripts passed down from Kindelon, encouraging budding actors to break away from their comfort zones.

“Acting is about being a little crazy,” he says.  “It’s about having the courage to do crazy things in front of people.”

He calls it an actor’s gym. “You get the pros and the novices,” Nemoto says. “And it doesn’t matter if you’ve been here a day or twenty years. You just come in and train at your own level.”

I look down at the first script I’ve held since my 5th grade Christmas play and try my best to convey my lines as a ruthless reporter. As I deliver the last line, his clap booms from the corner. “Very, very good!” Nemoto cheers. “I’m impressed!” I hold up the paper as if he were applauding the script. 

I leave that evening eager to show my husband what I learned, with a cloud of Nemoto’s teachings hovering over my head. “Anybody can act, but a true actor doesn’t get any better if they don’t show up the following week.”

The Just Act class meets every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the ADR Agency. $10 per class. 45-1123 Kamehameha Hwy.,

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