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Faculty Spotlight: Kurt Naebig & his journey from student to teacher.

Faculty Spotlight: Kurt Naebig
Actor, Director & ASC Senior Instructor

When Kurt Naebig took an improv class in high school, he didn’t know it would change the course of his life. He was a semi-pro skateboarder, he owned a skateboard shop in Oak Park (yes, as a teenager), and acting wasn’t really on his radar. The Chicago actor, director, and ASC teacher thought the class would just be kind of fun; but he loved it.

After high school, he continued in improv, taking classes at Second City. He saw an audition announcement for a children’s theatre play, to be produced on weekends at Second City, and decided to audition–something he’d never done before.

Kurt Naebig Teaching

He got cast–but now he had to actually do the show.“At that point, I thought the job of the actor is to say lines and be where someone else told you to stand,” he says, “I remember being so frightened.” Forgetting a line, or somehow ending up in the wrong place on stage felt like a catastrophe. Fear aside, the theater bug had bitten, and when Kurt saw a posting for a class at what was then “The Audition Center” (now ASC), he decided to take it.

“It was a revolutionary time,” he says, noting that teacher and founder of the Center, Jane Brody immediately called him on all his tricks.  He learned about listening, personalizing,  and starting to play actions. He began to experience what connecting with another human and “the audience connecting with us” really felt like, and he liked it. A lot. Jane encouraged him to audition for drama school, and he got into Juilliard.

After graduating from Juilliard, Kurt lived in New York for awhile, working some, but on his trips home to visit, something interesting always happened. “Every time I came back to Chicago, I got a bunch of work,” he says. After he got cast in a film, a TV movie, a play and a dark night show in one visit to Chicago, he decided to stick around.

That’s when Kurt came back to The Audition Center. Jane had noticed his useful insights responding to work in class, and offered him a teaching gig. This turned out to be another life-changing event.

“I had a really strong sense of belonging, something really felt right in the classroom,” he says. This interest in teaching and working with actors continued, eventually leading him to direct. “I’d be sitting in acting class, or watching rehearsal, thinking, ‘I could help this person, or this scene.’ Of course, as a fellow student or actor, that’s not my role. “ As a director, he could do that kind of helping. “I think I love directing as much, if not more than, I love acting, now,” he says.

Kurt’s had the opportunity do some great plays in his career. He played The Elephant Man and, “got to play Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire, even though I wouldn’t cast me in that part”, he says. Of course, there are still some dream roles he’d like to tackle: Donny in American Buffalo, and Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Currently, he’s got some work on the books, and is co-directing Humane Resources, a comic webseries that he describes as “like The Office, if it were set in the Humane Society.”

Kurt enjoys privately coaching actors to get them ready for cold readings / monologue or college auditions.  He’s excited to be helping a couple students prep for their Juilliard auditions this year. If you need a coach you can reach him here: kurtnaebig.com

And of course, he’s teaching at ASC. Next up: Advanced Scene Study & Monologue!

Kurt Naebig offers this advice for a long-term acting career: “Learn to adapt and do the work because you love it.”


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