Beginning the Artist’s Journey

Polanski auditioned for and was accepted as a scholarship student at the Shelton Studios which is nationally recognized as one of the finest Method Acting schools in the country. Students have won Academy awards, Emmy awards, Tony awards, Obie awards, and countless local awards. The school was founded by Jean Shelton. Ms. Shelton is closely associated with Stella Adler, Harold Clurman, Lee Strasberg, and the creation of Method Acting.

He completed an intensive four year Method program covering the following studies and exercises: scene study, fencing, voice, song, dance, dialects, sense memory, improvisation, relaxation, concentration, the “Magic If”, substitution, animal characterization, personalization, private moment work, 4th wall work, organic truth justification, affective memory and sense memory exercises, psychological gesture exercises, character breakdown techniques, and more. Polanski performed classic and modern plays written by the worlds leading playwrights as part of the curriculum. The faculty created classes based on the teachings of Stanislavsky, Michael Chekhov, Boleslavsky, and Grotowski.

While at the Shelton Studios, Polanski was profoundly influenced as a man and an artist by Wendell Phillips who was a faculty member at that time. Mr. Phillips was one of the original members of the Group Theater along with Strasberg, Odets, Adler, Meisner, and others. He taught Marlon Brando at the Actors Studio.

Mr. Phillips was renowned for his biting honesty regarding the arts, and the mistakes he made as a man and an artist. He developed many unique exercises meant to develop a relationship between an actors mind, body, talent, soul and the written word. These included a body taboo defiance exercise, unique sense memory exercises, and an improvisational exercise where an actor is given one word and one minute to prepare a five minute improv with a beginning, middle, end and revelation.

Polanski recalls being given the word “rain” for his five minute improv. The improvisation he imagined on the spur of the moment, and performed without props, using only sense memory techniques, moved Mr. Phillips to say, “Some day people will refer to you not only as a superb actor but as a great artist as well.”


The late Elisabeth Leustig gave Polanski the opportunity to work with Francis Ford Coppola while at Zoetrope Studios. During this time he was chosen to study with Marlon Brando at his Mulholland residence.

Polanski is one of the few actors to have been invited by Charles E. Conrad to join his legendary Master Class without an audition. Polanski’s reputation preceded him. CEC Studio was the preeminent film acting school at the time. Conrad would emerge as one of the film industry’s most distinguished acting teachers. Robert Duvall, Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon and Joanne Woodward were among the students who studied with Mr. Conrad.

Conrad adapted the Meisner repetition exercise to elevate the connection between acting partners. The Conrad technique prepares actors to work in a highly intuitive state with a relaxed instrument and a high level of energy.

Polanski completed a two year Master program taught by Mr. Conrad. The Conrad classroom exercise is always carried out with two cameras, one focused on each actor, A table and two chairs are the only props. The actors perform without rehearsal. His teachings are primarily for use in film and the intimacy of the naked truth that is only revealed through the eye of the camera.

During one class, after Polanski completed a scene, Conrad said to Polanski, “You are truly a unique actor. I’ve never worked with anybody like you. It’s going to be hell for you to find the work in this town but when you do, you’ll never stop working.”


Polanski continues to work on his craft for the purpose of fulfilling his potential as an actor. He performed a solo piece at Bobby Moresco’s Actor Gym and received a standing ovation. The only actor to have ever received a standing ovation there.