Introducing my friend Tony Grahn in his own words:
The pressures an actor experiences can be great. An actor needs to remember many lines, sometimes up to 100 pages if you happen to be playing the main role. You need to remember when and how to react, where and when to move, and to be in character. There is no time to take a break or stop and start again. You are “up in the air,” and you have to stay there.
After a few years, and a number of productions and workshops, one of my acting teachers told me that I should “go for it,” meaning, audition for the Swedish Acting Academy. I was inspired, and maybe for the first time felt I was good at something. At the time, I was about age 25. I had no real training behind me or any career that pointed to a clear future. At this juncture of my life, I decided to become a professional actor! Now I experienced stress. I applied to the National Acting Academy. I was making a huge commitment. The intake or audition process was in four stages. Stage one, we were asked to give a 5 minute monolog in front of a jury of 7 prominent actors and directors. There were approximately 500 applicants applying for 12 places. In the first stage about half the candidates were dismissed. Stage two, we were asked to do another monolog. This test left about 50 young men and women who then went on to stage three, a weeklong workshop audition. During this week we did many exercises working with text and scenes while always being watched by the jury who had their notebooks and pens evaluating our abilities. In the last and final phase, stage four, a group of 24 actors remained. We took part in another two week long audition workshop. To be accepted by this academy was not easy. It was very competitive. I applied to this school three times over three years. I always made it to the last stage but was only accepted on my fourth attempt.
After school finished, I decided to stay in London as I had an offer to direct a comedy revue at the prestigious Canal Cafe Theatre. After my success there, I continued to direct 5 more productions over a two year period and during this time, I knew that I wanted to teach actors what I learned from Andris but I never got around to doing it. Then one day I made a decision to “go for it” and I wrote a letter to the prestigious Actors Centre, a place where professional actors took classes in acting, singing, speech, movements...etc. They accepted my proposition to teach the class. There were 10 actors enrolled for the one day workshop. This was another transforming day in my life. The class was a great success; although it was my first time, I tried to teach what I learned from my mentor. I recommitted to the decision I made 9 years before to teach Andris Blekte’s method.
I once had a young woman as a client who had a history of mental illness. She was in and out of hospitals and had taken many different medications. She participated in one of my open workshops. On the first day I asked all participants to enter the room, go to their chair, and sit down while the rest of the class watched the 30 second exercise. Lena entered the room, stopped immediately and started to cry, she was absolutely terrified. To make a long story short, after three days she was standing in front of the group singing a song with a big smile. To see this young woman get back to her power made me cry.