Humans of UK: Peter Allen Stone brings the Bluegrass to Finland

Karley Keen

Peter Allen Stone is learning to speak Italian, but for his upcoming adventure, Finnish might prove more useful.

Stone, assistant professor of theatre and head of acting at UK, will take his craft to Finland on April 2.

During his two-week stay in the land of a thousand lakes, Stone will collaborate with two universities, one high school and the Finnish Drama and Theatre Education Association to direct and teach acting for the camera.

Starting at Tampere University and Theatre Academy at the University of the Arts Helsinki, Stone will use exercises from his new book, “Acting for the Camera: Back to One,” to teach and shoot scenes with students.

“Often acting teachers, myself included, would always say ‘Forget about the camera, forget it’s even there!’ and it’s really kind of the worst advice,” Stone said.

His book, published in 2021, teaches the essentials of acting for the camera from the perspectives of actors, editors, cinematographers and directors, focusing on how actors can use the camera as a tool for performance building and easier artist collaboration, rather than being subject to its hindrance.

Some say “Those who can’t do, teach,” but thankfully for UK’s acting students, this doesn’t hold true. Since Stone originally only wanted to act, he knows firsthand what his students may be feeling.

“I wish I would’ve known these things when I was younger, because I was so scared in front of a camera,” Stone said.

His book’s title stems from Stone’s first acting job, “Saved by the Bell: The New Class.”

He starts the publication with a recollection of stopping a scene because of nerves. “I had a whole crew looking at me that was upset, but said, ‘Alright, let’s go back to one when Peter is ready,’” he recalled.

“Back to one” is a phrase used on film sets, meaning to go back to the first position with the cameras and actors, but Stone thinks of his title as also meaning going back to one, back to the actor.

If the actor knows these tools, Stone said, “They can think ‘Okay, back to myself, back to one. I’m going to use this camera in a way that can help the editor create a great performance.’”

Stone’s book was made possible by his teaching career, in which he originally had no interest.

A former classmate from Stone’s conservatory training challenged him to try a career at New York Film Academy, encouraging him to teach, saying, “Go for it. What’s the worst that could happen?”

While teaching at NYFA, Stone met a teacher from Finland’s Kallio Upper Secondary School of Performing Arts, who wanted to produce his play “Everygirl.”

Years later, Stone and Kallio School will get to work together again, now on film.

During his time in Helsinki, Stone will visit Kallio School to direct its student-made film about climate change, which they hope to finish and submit to film festivals around the world by the end of summer 2022.