T E A C H I N G
“Saffron has a magical ability to be both honest and gentle. Rigorous with the art, generous with the artist: how rare, to find such a combination in one collaborator. She teaches like she directs, with precision, gentleness grounded in high expectation, and a breathtaking and welcome honesty that both challenges the student and makes them feel safe. Students flourish under Saffron's tutelage. I have seen it again and again.”
- Megan Gogerty, Playwright and Solo Performer, University of Iowa
- Megan Gogerty, Playwright and Solo Performer, University of Iowa
For student videos, reading series, and more with On the Brink, click HERE
Hollins Playwright's Lab and Certificate Programs in New Play Performance & Directing
The New Play Performance Certificate provides graduate-level instruction from leading theatre professionals in the specific skills required in new play development. Students gain practical experience in playmaking through a program that is integrated with the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University, an internationally recognized graduate program in playwriting. I am core faculty in the program, teaching in the summer biennially.
The Creative Risk Project
Through the Center for Teaching enhancement at Miami University, I've developed a five part intensive module for assessing definitions of personal and creative risk. The project aims to help participants connect to a personal creative process, as well as developing authenticity and healthy risk-taking in their personal lives. This project
culminates in a creative piece or "sharing". This video was created by a Miami student as a sample of the experience in Fall 2015. I have presented on the project a number of times, at the ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education) conference, the Lilly conference (Oxford, OH), and the Witching Hour Festival (Iowa City, IA).
Several professors have adapted my model for other disciplines, and I am currently developing a condensed, immersive workshop version.
Movement based training and devised work
Trained in Tadashi Suzuki's technique, I merge this work with Anne Bogart's work, Fitzmaurice Voicework TM, yoga and pranayama practice with traditional Stanislavsky acting methods to create an arc of actor training that generates a basis for development of a personal process, thorough toolbox, and increasing autonomy and self-sufficiency necessary for a professional career. I also use many access points to develop devised new work.
This video is a sample from an Advanced Movement class, University of Southern California, 2008.
Overview of Experience:
Assistant Professor, Acting & Directing, Miami University
Artistic Director, The Brink Theatre Company
Artistic Associate, Working Group Theatre
Assistant Director, Grant Wood Art Colony, University of Iowa
Guest Director & Faculty (Acting) Cornell College
Guest Director Coe College
Guest Director Augustana College
Guest Director & Faculty (Voice and Diction)
St. Ambrose University
2007-2009: Faculty, Basic and Advanced Acting with Movement, University of Southern California
Fall 2007: Adjunct Assistant Professor, Drama in the Classroom, University of Iowa
2004-2007: Associate Artist, Resident Company Member,
Director of STC-2, Sacramento Theatre Company
2008: Center Theater Group/ Dana Institute
Trained to be a Teaching Artist for the Visual and Performing Arts Programs in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
2005: Post graduate work on Greek Theatre, Hydra Greece,
2001: Master of Fine Arts, Drama (Acting), University of Washington
1996: Bachelor of Arts, Theatre Arts, University of Iowa
1992 - 1994: The Theatre School, DePaul University
Fall 2012: Voice and Diction, St. Ambrose University
Fall 2010: Acting I, Cornell College
2009-2011: Movement, Chicago High School of the Arts
Spring 2009: Basic Acting with Movement, Advanced Acting with Movement, University of Southern California
Spring 2008: Basic Acting with Movement, University of Southern California
Fall 2008: Basic Acting with Movement, Advanced Acting with Movement University of Southern California
Fall 2007: Drama in the Classroom, University of Iowa
2004-2007: Program Head/Education Director, STC-2 Young Professional's Conservatory, Sacramento Theatre Company
Created and taught classes including Business/Audition, Theatre History, and all Performance subjects, as well as a fully produced 3 – 5 show season
1999-2000: Instructor of Record, Acting I, University of Washington
University Workshops/Intensives/Guest Artist
Fall 2009: Introduction to Suzuki for Acting Majors, Augustana College
Spring 2009: Guest Instructor for the Master’s Program, University of Southern California
Using the physical theatre and movement principles of Tadashi Suzuki, Jerzy Grotowski and Anne Bogart, upper level undergraduate majors and master’s students are introduced to the connection and utilization of their bodies in acting.
2011: Riverside Theatre Young People’s Intensive, Riverside Theatre
A two - week intensive for high school students on a range of subjects including monologues and scene work, Voice, Movement, Combat, Shakespeare and Audition
2010-2013: Riverside Shakespeare Festival, Riverside Theatre
Voice/text, acting coach/dramaturgy for the area’s premiere Shakespeare company
2010-2013: Riverside Interns Intensive, Movement, Riverside Theatre
Concentrated physical theatre sessions with recent college graduates from all over the country
2007-2011: Director, Englert School of Performing Arts
Co-ordinator, curriculum designer and head teacher
2009: Guest Artist, Mara Casey Acting Studio
Using various acting and physical theatre techniques, in depth workshops for professional actors, focusing on centering, connection and ensemble.
2008-2009: Guest Artist, A Noise Within Theatre
Using physical theatre techniques, workshops for professional and the post undergraduate aged intern company ensemble developed a cast created piece with Shakespeare’s text.
2002-2004: Actor/Teacher, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Teaching workshops using Shakespeare to middle and high school aged students
2008: Lead Teacher, Center Theatre Group
Teaching Los Angeles School District teachers how to utilize CTG’s production of “The Color Purple” in their classrooms
“It is clear that Professor Henke has a carefully considered vision for theatre pedagogy. Her approach to introducing the freshman cohort of theatre majors to acting emphasized the importance of building a foundation of acceptance and trust, which allowed her students to explore their own feelings in a safe environment. Everything about her interactions with the class reinforced the environment that was her design for the class. She included herself in the circle, as one of them, obviously comfortable with the role of a facilitator. Her assignments in the 131 class lead to cathartic experiences that were validating for the beginning actors, as they acknowledged and affirmed their own stories which were shared with their peers. Rather than initially teachings specific skills, her first priority in this class was to create an environment in which personal exploration, and respect for their own emotions and those of their peers would be established. It was clear during the span of my observations that these goals were being met which allowed the students to become more free and vulnerable in performance."
- Peer Review of Teaching, Miami University
“Professor Henke is by far the best acting professor I have ever taken with. Not only is she extremely talented and expressive but she is also dedicated and hardworking. I absolutely think I have become a better actress because of her (and it wasn't easy). She has pushed us to be the best we can be and given us assignments to help us outside the classroom when preparing for a monologue, scene, etc. She has created an inclusive, friendly, supportive environment making students feel comfortable and ready to work. She doesn't direct us, she gives us ideas to try and make us think of new ways to improve our acting skills. Because she doesn't just direct us to change something, it gives us freedom to change and try new things until we can figure it out ourselves with her guidance.”
– Miami University Student, Spring 2015
“This course reignited my passion for musical theatre. Saffron really has a way with teaching that I haven't seen elsewhere. She could make a research project exciting. More than anything, I was challenged in this course and she gave me the structure and guidance I needed to succeed. Saffron was always a pleasure to work with and I never left a class without having learned something new. This was one of my favorite classes I have taken at Miami and I think a lot of that has to do with the environment Saffron creates in her classes. I think every young actor should get the chance to work with someone like her.”
- Miami University student, Fall 2015
"Your class was one of my favorites in school, hands down."
- Sarah Laine Milner, USC student
"This class really gave me a chance to apply some things that I haven't worked on in years and let me do it with a new twist. Saffron...is the best teacher I've had since I got to college."
- University of Washington student
"This was a great course. Strengths were all the different physical, emotional, mental exercises we've done. We got very involved and learned a lot. Saffron was a great instructor with personal experience. She knew what she was talking about and got everyone involved."
- Cornell College student
"Saffron made me feel passionate about acting. I trust her and I respect her, and I think she has a lot to offer as an instructor. This has been the class that has had the greatest effect on me."
- Cornell College student
"Saffron is not a only a wonderful actor and teacher, she has a brilliant way of doing both at the same time." - Christina Elmore, former student, Harvard graduate
"I was lucky enough to have her my freshman year of high school. She instilled professionalism, dedication, and passion in all the work she taught us while creating a comfortable and productive environment. Looking back at my senior year of high school, it was her class's beautiful work specifically that brought us to tears four years later because it really was the foundation of all the work that we've done at The Chicago High School for the Arts. She taught us that acting was more than words, and life is more than existing." - Ryan Wasney, former student