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An article by MONICA PRINZING,   SCCN staff writer

A Chinese proverb that actor Eric Stone once heard has played an important role in his approach to his craft and toward his acting students: "The key is to keep watering the tree, not picking the fruit."

"I believe in acting as a craft and an art. Craft means that it requires ability, aptitude, and skill. It also means that it is governed by specific principles and rules which, when applied, produce an impact. Art means that acting, when executed properly, illuminates the spirit, illicits emotion and communicates," said Stone who teaches acting classes regularly and holds periodic workshops, one of which is scheduled this weekend at the Hollywood Actors Studio in Montecito.

"I say go for the craft, the process, not the results; act for the love of it and because you have something to share and communicate. So many people want the results-the money, the fame-but don't want to show up for practice and do what it takes. Like the proverb says, it is the process that counts.

Stone should know. Seventeen years ago he arrived in New York City from his native France at the age of 18 carrying only a backpack. Knowing very little English, he came to the U.S. with one main goal-to become an actor.

Since then, Stone, a Tarzana resident who moved to California in 1986, has landed many roles in various media including television, film, stage and commercials. Currently, he guest starred on "Mad TV and The Best of Mad TV," a new comedy show. He also played in "Beverly Hills 90210."

His first television appearance was on "Another World." but he has since had recurring roles on "One Life To Live," General Hospital," and "Days Of Our Lives."

Stone's stage credits include a two-character play with Candice Bergen titled "A Social Event" and "Plenty," the Broadway show in which he was an original cast member. He also played the lead role in "Death Of Lovers," which was performed at the New York Shakespeare Festival and produced by the late Joseph Papp. Stone has also acted in Films such as "No Man's Land" with Charlie Sheen, "Framed" with Jeff Goldblum, and "Darkman."

In addition, Stone has made dozens of radio and TV commercials, most recently for Sprint, Toyota and American Express. Stone also works as a voice over artist. He recently dubbed "Power Rangers" in French and does narrations for "Ford Motors."

Within a few months of arriving in America, Stone began studying acting full time at the well-known HB Studio under the tutelage of the famous director-coach, Herbert Berghof.

Stone was also accepted into Uta Hagen's highly competitive master class studying alongside actors such as Matthew Broderick. In addition, he trained under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, and has had coaching in singing, speech, ballet and jazz dance.

Stone was also accepted into Uta Hagen's highly competitive master class studying alongside actors such as Matthew Broderick. In addition, he trained under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, and has had coaching in singing, speech, ballet and jazz dance.

The art of performing is not new to Stone's family. Raised in France, Stone grew up watching his uncle, Andre Benichou, perform in classical plays by Moli're and Shakespeare. Also, Stone's cousin, Maurice Benichou, is the assistant to the famed director Peter Brook in Paris for almost 20 years.

"Acting is about self-expression and breaking those self-limiting barriers," said Stone in explaining why he's drawn to the art. "There are so many codes, ethics, and taboos in life, but in acting, we have the freedom to do just about anything without the consequences."

After conducting a series of two-day intensive workshops for professional actors on the West Coast, Stone decided to open up the Eric Stone Studio in 1989. Eric teaches the two-day intensives. He covers technique, self-expression, confidence, cold reading, character work, scene study, monologue work and improvisation techniques. Film and television techniques are also covered in depth.

"Ultimately, people are so unique and the key is to develop a style, a package and a product to compete with. Do you know what makes you special and do you have the tenacity to stick it out?"

 

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