“The arts are a path. They are a route I choose to live my life by so that I can better myself and give my personal best. For me, artists are a very essential element of society. Artists are the visionaries, the philosophers, the shamans. And in this chaotic time, we need more of them,” she said.
Horne, an associate professor of theatre at the University at Buffalo, is doing her part to keep the world’s stream of artists fully stocked. Her philosophy on life coincides nicely with a work as an acting teacher. The same awareness that she urges her students to cultivate in their personal lives can be used in “The Method,” an acting technique first developed by Lee Strasberg, which requires an actor to tap into a vast assemblage of sensorial memories and experiences from his own life in order to realistically portray a character. Living the life of an artist ultimately provides an ever-expanding reservoir of experiences from which the actor can draw.
“That’s a way of approaching life: to embrace life – the good and the bad – and to be fully aware of what’s happening in the moment. If we can use it later, fantastic. If not, then we have that moment, fully embraced, and nobody can take it away from us,” Horne said.
Horne is also keenly interested in how technology can impact art. Her current research explores how advances in facial recognition technology and the neurosciences can help make better actors.
“If we can find the intersection and merge both knowledges, we create new knowledge that illuminates the art of acting,” she said. “What is it that the sciences know, what are those processes that we can now use in the arts to create a better training for the artist? What we’re encountering today is completely new and is moving very, very fast due to technology. So we need to create a performer and we need to create art that can keep up with the speed that the rest of the fields are developing.”
Making better actors is what Horne has been doing for nearly three decades. Born and raised in Argentina, she has been acting since age 5. She moved to the U.S. in 1981 and began training with Strasberg and others at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York. It was in her five years there that she first developed a passion for teaching.
Horne began teaching internationally in 1986, and in 1999 became vice president of the International University Theatre Association. She also worked with the U.S. State Department as a cultural specialist to Estonia, Costa Rica and Paraguay, and has now taught in more than 26 countries worldwide.
She often brings UB students with her to international conferences and exhibition. Her UB students have performed in Argentina, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, China, France, Greece, Mexico, Romania and Spain, among other countries, but Horne also invites foreign performers to UB for collaborative work and study.
“We do not know where the next great idea is. We don’t know if interacting with somebody in the other corner of the world may give us that ‘a-ha’ moment just because of having that conversation. So we need to engage in dialogue and we need to engage in dialogue with people with very different points of view and perspectives. That keeps us fresh. And it forces us to reevaluate, rethink and test our own discoveries,” she said.
Horne’s acting students have gone on to work on Broadway, some are professional actors and others are now teaching other actors. Some also go on to apply the skills they’ve learned from her to professional careers in the law, medicine and other disciplines. Whatever their chosen profession, they leave UB with a terrific acting pedigree and they consistently credit Horne as a main influence in their research, careers and lives.
“Every student is an investment. When they come to me, I tell them, ‘I am going to give you 100 percent of me. But I need 100 percent of you,’” Horne said. “When we engage in that relationship, I am demanding, I am tough, I am brutal, I am fierce. I am not an easy teacher. I am very hard on them, because they need to be pushed. I believe in them and I believe in their potential, but I also believe in hard work and I believe in a sense of urgency. I’m demanding, but I am also very giving. I give them my all.
“I’m just a mirror. I’m an honest mirror to what they project on me. As a mirror that has something to give back, I point them to directions where they can grow, into directions that they need to expand. It’s a relationship of honesty and nurturing but also of accountability. It’s a relationship of requesting them to be responsible to give their very, very best. It’s my job to point them where it is that they can grow.
“I always tell them. I don’t train employees. I train artists. So if you come to me just to go do a job as an actor, you’re at the wrong place. I want you to be an artist. I want you to make a difference.”
Last updated: May 21, 2013 3:32 am EST