One of Toronto’s most highly respected acting coaches, Miriam Laurence trains, coaches and directs actors. In the thirty years that she has been training actors, Miriam Laurence has been influential in the growth of a long and impressive list of recognized actors, directors, writers, and teachers.
Integrated Acting System Founder:
+ M.F.A. in Directing at York University in T.O.
+ M.A. in Theater and Dramatic Arts at UCLA in L.A.
+ B.F.A. in Acting/Directing at Bennington College in Vermont
+ Studied as a Working Observer at The Actors Studio in N.Y.C. for 3 years
+ Trained with Lee Strasberg, Master Class at The Lee Strasberg Theater & Film Institute – N.Y.C.
+ Trained with Madeleine Sherwood in her Acting Technique, Advanced Scene Study class at Circle in the Square Theater School in N.Y.C.
+ Extensive voice training with Master Voice Coach, David Smukler
Miriam Laurence was brought up in Montreal and attended St. George’s School of Montreal. She received her BFA from Bennington College in Vermont. Ms. Laurence trained at New York’s Circle-in-the-Square Theatre School with Madeleine Sherwood. She then studied with Lee Strasberg at the Lee Strasberg Institute for three years and was granted auditing privileges at The Actors Studio East and West for four years. At the Actors Studio she observed first-hand, bi-weekly sessions moderated by many of the well-known proponents of method acting and directing: Arthur Penn, Elia Kazan, Lee Strasberg, Ellen Burstyn, Shelley Winters and Estelle Parsons. She observed actors such as Rip Torn, Ron Leibman, Michael Moriarty, Ellen Burstyn, Teri Garr and Mickey Rourke, working on their craft in sessions and in production. While in New York, Miriam also participated (acting and observing/assisting) in productions at EST (Ensemble Studio Theater). Miriam Laurence’s varied experience and training have led her to distill, reinterpret and integrate many valuable Method-based techniques techniques and exercises into her Integrated Acting System which leaves aside and/or adapts the often misinterpreted or misunderstood exercises that gave ‘method acting’ a negative connotation.
In L.A. Miriam Laurence pursued her interest in acting and directing. She holds a Master of Arts in Directing and Critical Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. She also studied acting with Eric Morris in San Francisco and L.A. After moving to Toronto, Miriam took courses with Michael Shurtleff and other acting teachers, was the Assistant Director for Robin Phillips’ acclaimed production of Semmelweiss and for Richard Greenblatt’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank at Young People’s Theatre. In 1985 she completed a Master of Fine Arts in directing from York University. She also studied extensively with voice coach David Smukler. Her exposure to many physical techniques includes: various forms of dance, yoga, contact improvisation, Grotowski techniques, and Suzuki, as well as alignment and massage techniques.
Since 1994 Miriam has run studio sessions in downtown Toronto where she teaches her Integrated Acting System. Other than teaching at her own studio, she has taught for many other studios, programs and schools including Young People’s Theatre School, the Performance Certificate Programme at Seneca College and for Equity Showcase Theatre.
Theatre directing credits include: The Gnadiges Fraulin at Summerworks; the sold-out production of Birdbath at The Toronto Fringe; A Dream Play at Seneca College Studio Theatre; World of Colour at Mel Lastman Square, Lilly, Alta. and Fool for Love at York University. Fool for Love was remounted professionally at Solar Stage Theatre where the lead performances were named among the highlights of the 1995 Toronto theatrical season by the Toronto Star.
As well as being in constant demand as a private audition coach for actors of all ages, Ms. Laurence has been hired as Language/Dialect Coach for Vin Diesel and other actors in The Pacifier, for Sienna Guillory and Thomas Kretchmann, in Resident Evil II: Apocalypse and fifty-three cast members in Harlan County, directed by Tony Bill and starring Holly Hunter. Ms. Laurence has worked as the Acting Coach on CBC’s Street Legal and I’ll Never Get to Heaven, Don Shebib’s Change of Heart, Universal’s Billy Madison, Fast Track for Alliance and Cosmopolis for Prospero Pictures.
Ms. Laurence is a member of ACTRA, CAEA, and has served for three years as the Chair of TAAS. She is also a member of the Playwright’s Guild of Canada which features many of her modernization/adaptation/translations of classic works. View a list of her publications. She has served as a Jury Member for the ACTRA Toronto Awards and has led standing-room only workshops on cold-reading techniques at ACTRA Toronto conferences. In 2015, Miriam was accepted into the Actor’s Studio West’s Playwright/Director’s Unit in West Hollywood.
Her recent short, Magic Madeleines, was an official selection at The Los Angeles Skins Film Festival in 2018. She is currently teaching her classes while writing the feature version of Magic Madeleines.
Miriam has been married for almost 40 years and has two grown children.