YSU THEATER Students savor insight of actor Aidan Quinn

Although he works with students a few times a year, this was the first time Quinn had the opportunity to critique their performances.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Missy Bender, 18, of Lisbon, has been acting in school plays and church productions for as long as she can remember. She never dreamed her first role in a college theater production would be critiqued by a famous actor.
But at Youngstown State University, dreams happen.
Aidan Quinn, who has appeared with box-office legends and superstars such as Anthony Hopkins, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Robert De Niro, Johnny Depp and Madonna, visited YSU on Saturday to lead an acting workshop with theater students.
Quinn is best known for his roles in 1994's "Legends of the Fall," and 1985's "Desperately Seeking Susan."
Priceless advice
"We did our scene and he critiqued it. Then we got to ask him questions," Bender said. "I was really nervous. I thought I was going to forget my lines, but I got through it."
The advice Quinn offered, the college freshman said, is priceless. "He's really smart when it comes to acting. We had this mother-daughter scene and I played the daughter. He told me to do it more like an annoying daughter -- more like you don't care."
Without Quinn's advice, Bender played the part as a nag.
"He told me to tone my performance down; it doesn't have to be so big on stage," said Anne Marie Dull, a 19-year-old sophomore from Niles. She played Bender's mother in the scene Quinn critiqued in Ford Theater, Bliss Hall.
"I think I learned how to read more into the character -- not attack the role, but become it," she said.
"I learned that I need to be more relaxed, look into the role and have fun with it," added Gary Shackleford, 17, of Round Hill, Va. Shackleford applied to YSU because of its theater department. He is a freshman.
"I learned what doesn't look right," said Darin Munnell, 20, of Canfield, a junior. "I'm not very natural in my movement. I need to be more mobile -- intensity does not make good acting."
This is Munnell's first semester of acting. He said his "ultimate passion is to become a director," and until the start of this school year had been focusing on technical courses related to theater operation and filmmaking.
Film screening
Quinn agreed to lead the workshop in connection with a screening of his 1999 film, "This is My Father," at Austintown Movies 3 Saturday evening.
"I always love working with acting students," Quinn said.
Although he works with students a few times a year, this was the first time he had the opportunity to critique performances. Usually his workshops follow a question-and-answer format. This, he said, allowed him to get more involved and interact with students.
"They all have different strengths and weaknesses," Quinn observed. "They represent a cross-section of talent."
Between 25 and 30 YSU students participated.
"This is My Father" co-stars John Cusack and James Caan. Quinn's sister Marian also had a role. His brother, Paul, wrote and directed; brother Declan was cinematographer.

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