Kate St-Pierre’s training group looks at theater from a different viewpoint

Kate St-Pierre takes a moment from her packed schedule of performances, rehearsals and workshops.
Photo: Steve Marcus
Jacob Coakley

Kate St-Pierre can’t stop checking her notes. Her first rehearsal for The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity—the season opener for Cockroach Theatre, with performances starting in October—just ended, and her latest workshop finished days ago, but she keeps pressing the button on her phone to light up her notes, studying. “I’m a workshop junkie,” she says, turning the phone over to hide the screen. “I like to train with different people and learn different styles.”

It has always been that way for the constantly moving artist. Studying with a vocal coach led to an artistic associate gig at the Los Angeles Opera; her dedication to singing styles from across the world landed her the job of lead vocalist for the opening of Le Rêve; that soon led to a role in before she left to tour Europe with a band.

But Vegas remained her home base, and the fertile theater scene here kept bringing St-Pierre back to act and direct—and, of course, study. Last fall she launched a small theater training group called the Lab, dedicated to elevating theatre artists’ skill sets. “Artists don’t always have the opportunities to grow and explore,” she says. “I think you need that. You have to keep growing.”

The Lab was her way to provide that—to herself and others. The sessions offered actors grounding in a theory called Viewpoints, an esoteric form of training even within theater. “People think it’s weird, and they don’t really know what it is if they haven’t studied it directly.” So she decided to give artists here the opportunity to do just that. She recently brought Leon Ingulsrud, one of the main practitioners and teachers of Viewpoints, to Vegas for a workshop. He taught the basics to St-Pierre and 20 other students. “Viewpoints training puts you in extreme situations, which is what acting is. Onstage, all these eyes are staring at you, expecting you to dazzle them, to impress them. You need to be able to go out there and become another person—usually in a horrible situation. So this training gives you the foundation to do that.”

St-Pierre has set up a Facebook page for the Lab, where she can get the word out about more training opportunities and people looking to join in can message her.

Even with all this new training, St-Pierre hasn’t forgotten about performance itself. The training doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t result in a more engaging show. “For the audience, Viewpoints can take something that could be a static, artificial thing and clarifies what’s happening, making it more interesting.”

Which leads to the question that has been occupying St-Pierre’s thoughts throughout all her artistic explorations: “How do we tell a strong story and keep people engaged?” she asks. “That’s what I want for the Lab, for theater. How can we tell a story in an even more engaging and stronger way?” And to do that she’ll keep studying.

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