Full-time Coursework Description

The Hunter Gates Academy

Programs start October 4th, 2021

There is no Time Like the Present (1).jp

The coursework at The Academy is grounded in the European-based tradition of physical theatre, inspired by the pedagogy of Jacques Lecoq, but many different experiences and approaches have brought The Academy to its current form.  This is a place for artistic and personal research aiming to develop the creative side of each individual participant, encouraging and stimulating them to become independent performers able to forge and affirm their own unique artistic voice. 


This document serves as an extended introduction to the fields covered in the Full-time Professional Training Program.


Neutral Mask

A Neutral Mask is a pedagogical tool that serves as a fundamental reference point for all performances and a perfect starting point for the creation of all theatre work. It proposes to the artist an experience grounded in a state of balance, calm and silence: the here and now of space. Once worn, it allows each participant to experience the neutral state that precedes action; a heightened state of awareness devoid of internal conflict, as the Neutral Mask has no past or future - it exists in a conscious state of presence. When the artist touches this neutral state, the body becomes "a blank page, available for the forthcoming drama to be written" (Jacques Lecoq, The Moving Body).

Larval Mask

Following the Neutral Mask, the artist begins an exploration toward character within the world of Larval Masks, which are transposed from historical carnival masks from the city of Basel, Switzerland, into powerful training tools. Very big, simple, and primitive, they suggest expression, announcing the lines that will lead to a specific character without defining it. Embryonic-like, the masks propose the dimension of animality or fantasy with characters and situations that live in the realm of the highly stylized, caricatured imagination. Larval mask work has tremendous pedagogical value in all artists' physical theatre training because they ask for amplification of gestures in order to fully play, empowering the artist to discover dynamic movement informed by the mask as a structure and shape in space.

Character Masks

These masks propose primary human characters defined by a single, dominant dynamic. These masks are extremely naïve and challenge the artist to embody the very specific human characteristics, where emotion takes precedence over intelligence and understanding.

Welcome Human Comedy! 

Commedia Dell' Arte Half-masks are phenomenal instruments for a dramatic and theatrical play. For the first time since the beginning of the course work, we reveal the mouth of the artist.  They introduce the artist to a very precise physical definition of character through the play of urgency and survival. Human Comedy leads to more specific character development work, even within the style of realism while in Commedia Dell' Arte, passions and states are pushed to the extreme and the style demands a very high level of physicality: the body is completely engaged and constantly receptive.

The Red Nose 

The smallest mask in the world allows participants to experience the clown.  This is a powerful state of being-without-doing, that gives the performer a profound sense of openness, authenticity, and freedom in front of an audience all the while revealing and developing a sense of play. This mask focuses on the actor's craft as player and improviser, targeting physicality, being present in the moment, connecting with the audience, and letting go of the inner judge. Working in this manner will create the necessary space to follow the impulses required to truly play. Regardless of each participant's personal artistic journey, the experience with the Red Nose is fundamental to anyone and it will remain an essential reference point in their training history.

Stage Combat

Through stage combat, we start to give attention to learning the basics of how it’s done and then taking that knowledge to other areas.  Stage combat is more a combination of ballroom dance and stage magic than it is with any actual fighting discipline. The illusion created furthers the story being told and supports character development.  When you understand intellectually that a stage punch is not a real punch, that the scene in which a duel took place was a cooperative venture, and that it was composed with safety, narrative, and sightlines in mind, then the overall appreciation of the larger production only increases.

"But whether it's ancient or modern swordplay, you start by learning to hold the sword properly and to manipulate it for attack and defense. Swordplay is a conversation. The opponents talk to each other with their blades. The style of fighting varies with each character. If I can make the sword work talk about what’s happening in the script in the same way the dialogue conveys the story, then I feel I've succeeded."

~ Bob Anderson (1922 - 2012)

(Anderson was a brilliant choreographer who worked on films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mask of Zorro, The Lord of The Rings, The Princess Bride, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.)

Here are just a few of the subjects covered in our classes:  

Rapier, Rapier & Dagger, Broadsword,  Unarmed, Quarterstaff, Knife Techniques,
Sword and Buckler, Shillelagh, Contemporary Violence, On-Camera Techniques,
FDC (Fight Directors Canada) Certification Classes.


The artistic journey at the Academy is supported by a comprehensive curriculum:

● Introduction to the concept of space

● A dynamic approach to nature through the exploration of the 4 elements (water, fire, air, earth)

● The 20 Movements of Jacques Lecoq

● A dynamic approach to color and light, materials, poetry, music, animals

● Introduction to individual storytelling

● Gestural language/pantomime

● Introduction to the chorus

● Creation of characters (situations, behaviors, emotions)

● Mask sculpting (papier-mâché)

● Quick change (character play)


Physical Preparation

Physical preparation is a fundamental and essential training of the body, through it students discover their own potential for expressive movement. 

Elements of Acrobatics

We use acrobatic to expand our understanding of the possibilities of the body onstage and stretch students to their limits, regardless of age and shape. Balance, flexibility, strength: this class is intended to provide students with a broad palette of movement that they can use for their craft.

Movement Analysis & Technique

The analysis of movement and technique is designed to explore the fundamentals of the body in action. Analysis of movement provides an unlimited amount of resources for play and creation while movement technique provides a structure for artistic mastery. Starting from the observation of the human body in the daily actions of life, this work presents the artist with a greater awareness of the body in space and dramatic presence. The analysis and practice of this work enable the artist to discover the source of personal impulse for action, essential for dramatic theatrical creation. At a later stage in the training, you will have the opportunity to apply the results of your analysis to the construction of mask play, performances, and writing for the stage.


Voice training has an emphasis on the connection between body movement and sound evolving into the connection between sound, body movement and form, mask, and character.


Being in the present, the priority of response and reaction on the action, action in play, the availability of emptiness, rhythm, tempo, range, development of themes, the overturning of a theme, the recall of a theme, and more. Chronologically, these themes came before the playwright and the text. The daily practice and understanding of improvisation allow artists to play and write the theatre of creation.

Rhythm Work

Rhythm resides in all of us and can be felt by everybody, and play is built on this invisible matrix. This course component seeks to explore and deepen the access of each individual into the world of rhythm in order to understand and apply it to the process of theatre. No prior musical training necessary.

Devised Class

This daily class is a self-taught, collective collaboration course. Without direct supervision, small groups of students work on themes connected to the overall coursework. This work develops performance skills, playwriting, and directing.

Design and Creations of a Personal Mask

Students will research and create their own mask exploring the following mask-making phases: modeling of the mask (clay), creation of the plaster mould, and the realization of the mask in hardened, papier-mâché).  This is done in full-face form in the first term and then using the template, a half-mask is created in the second term.

Personal Theme

This final work is based on the observation by students of various places and social milieux as a provocation to create a movement piece presented to an audience.


Class Location: 117-5305 Magasin Ave., Beaumont, Alberta CANADA 

Email: Hunter Gates at:  Director@huntergatesacademy.com

Call Canada: +1 780-737-3003 WhatsApp: +1-780-909-8781 

Skype: whisperedcadence