Ursula Wolcz attended the Theatre Academy in Bucharest. She has performed in Frankfurt, Essen, Berlin, Stuttgart, Bochum and Berna and at theatre festivals in Holland, Venice, Paris and Verbier. Her important roles include Rosalind, Lady Macbeth, Luisa, Anja and Nina from works as varied as those of Shakespeare, Chekhov, Brecht, Gozzi, Goldoni, Lorca, Buchner, Calderon and Gorki. She previously taught acting at the Musik-Hochschule Frankfurt. Since 1996, she has taught acting at Columbia University.
Ulla’s work at Columbia is primarily carried out through individual and small group labs.
In the first semester, students begin with the Greeks (both in their original forms and in contemporary adaptations). Work begins with experiments and improvisations whose purpose is to expand the actor’salphabet of expression. The goal of her work is to eliminate the obstacles that stand in the actor’s way of his or her own full expression – to work towards Grotowsky’s Via Negativa and to awaken and enrich what is inside the particular actor.
The second half of the semester is dedicated to organizing andstructuring the material with scene and monologue work.
Subsequent semesters cover as many different styles and periods of the European dramatic tradition as possible, e.g. Spanish, German, Russian, and French Absurdist theater. How does the expression of grief or joy change from the big dramatic gesture of the Greeks through the poetic realism of Chekhov to the non-gesture or stillness of Beckett? Basicsemester structure remains the same, but scene work covers increasingly fuller arcs with longer excerpts and sometimes even full plays being workshopped and showcased in a fully realized end-of-semester presentations.