"Acting class was phenomenal. The instructor, Ryan Decker, respected my input and adjusted the practice scene to how I saw the characters and my co-actor... we made acting choices, had momentum, and our reactions felt genuine. This was a first for me... being treated with respect as an adult, and yet having a playful experience..."
Jacob Robertson, Acting: Foundations student ('14)
My strategy as a teacher is to meet students where they are technically, physically, vocally, and emotionally. I aim to be conscious of students’ differences and I build my courses to meet their unique needs. Not every approach is right for every actor, director, designer, or student. With my wide range of theatre experiences, I offer an intimate knowledge of vast acting, directing, and production practices –- especially in Practical Aesthetics, as well as Meisner and Stanislavski-based performance approaches. In teaching performance, production and literature/theory courses, I have one overarching goal: To create a truthful life on stage and film under imaginary circumstances. Achievable through theoretical understanding, awareness, and practice integrating technique, analysis, voice and body, these processes and performances are exciting, captivating, and dramatic. For these reasons, my courses combine rigorous academic/theoretical discussions with active exploration for the enhancement of performance and production skills and intellectual development. By encouraging openness and creating an environment in which students feel safe to take risks, my students often make breakthroughs that are distinct and meaningful to themselves, their craft, and their interdisciplinary assemblages.
Leading a tour of the Grand Opera House with
one of my Acting: Foundations (101) classes.
the Iowa Thespian Festival workshop.
"I loved this class. Mr. Decker was very fun and inviting. He made class comfortable and allowed everyone to express themselves at their own pace."
University of New Orleans student evaluation
TEACHING ASSOCIATE -- Film & Theatre Dept., University of New Orleans, Fall 2016-present.
- Acting I (FTA 1300): An introductory course to the craft of acting. Students gain theoretical and practical understanding of the basic principles of acting and apply them to exploratory exercises, script/scene work, and the presentation of an open scene, two-person scene, and monologue. Emphasis on objective, action (tactic), obstacles, other, given circumstances, and character.
- Acting II (FTA 2330): Experimental cross-over course with Directing (FTA 2380), Spring 2018. Intensive training in the fundamental process of preparing a role including self-knowledge, script analysis, and the application of technique, objective, action, and motivation in characterization.
- Directing I (FTA 2380): Fundamentals of script interpretation and directing. Emphasis on working with actors, composition, and justifying actions, movement, and silence with an understanding of a concept, characters, and conflict.
- Contracted / Not Taught: Theatre Appreciation (FTA 1000); Oral Communications (FTA 2650).
- Departmental Responsibilities: co-managing Theatre UNO marketing, box office, and front-of-house operations; directing one Theatre UNO production per academic year.
INSTRUCTOR OF THEATRE ARTS -- Dubuque Area Arts Collective, Spring 2014-Fall 2014.
- Acting: Foundations: A semester-long introduction to theories and craft skills of acting.
- Acting: Improvisation: A workshop introduction to improvisational acting, principles, and games.
GUEST ARTIST -- Iowa Thespian Festival, Fall 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.
- Masks, Mischief & Mayhem: Through 16th century Italian commedia dell'arte stock character masks, physical comedy, and characterizations, actors explore dynamic physical expression for the stage. (Fall 2013)
- Exploring Viewpoints: Participants will explore shape, gesture, kinetic response, spatial relationship, and other Viewpoints as tools for spontaneity, awareness, and creating characters and performances. This workshop is active, engaging, thoughtful, and very useful for actors creating captivating stage roles or devising new, original performances. (Fall 2011, reprised for 2012 and 2014.)
GUEST DIRECTOR -- Fine & Performing Arts Department, University of Dubuque, Fall 2012.
- The Last Five Years: Directed the fall musical production of The Last Five Years in an academic setting (and taking teachable moments!). Production served as context for coursework in Production Techniques (UDTH 210) and Capstone (UDTH 358).
DRAMA TEACHER ("TRANSFIGURATION PROFESSOR") -- Great Midwestern Educational Theatre Company: Frogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry Summer Camp, Summer 2012.
- Drama 3-5: Drama games and play.
- Drama 6-8: Storytelling and play.
- Drama 9-12: Voice, movement, and tableau storytelling.
INSTRUCTOR OF ACTING & MOVEMENT -- Sturgis Youth Theatre, Spring 2012.
- Acting II: (co-taught) Scene study course building on the Acting I course.
- Movement for the Actor: (cancelled, under-enrolled): Development of physical freedom (expression), exploring movement techniques, and physical characterization.
- Physical Comedy & Stage Combat: Safe practices for selling staged violence and physical comedy.
STUDENT-INSTRUCTOR OF VOICE -- School of Music, UNI, Spring 2012.
- Non-Major Applied Music (Voice): Taught one juried section of voice in completion of studies in Vocal Pedagogy. In addition to the practice and performance of two contrasting pieces, instruction included units in music theory (basic music reading, piano playing), vocal technique (breathing, resonance, diction), artistry (interpretation, communication, performance skills), and vocal health.
GUEST ARTIST -- Acting for the Camera Workshop, Great River Film Initiative, 2011.
- Introduction to Acting & On-Camera Technique (Session)
- Cold Readings, Auditions, and the Business of Acting (Session)
- Filmmaking Master Class (Lecturer)
INSTRUCTOR OF MOVEMENT, GUEST DIRECTOR -- "Acting Out!", EI/WI Scouts, Fall 2009.
- Movement for the Actor: Workshops exploring movement and Laban-based performance.
- Readers' Theatre: Directed two cumulative readers’ theatre performances.
by student assessments
at University of New Orleans
"Ryan did a wonderful job of preparing the class and organizing the course's work for the semester. The class was inspiring."
Ivonne Simmonds, Acting: Foundations student ('14)
Phelps Acting Practice Room,
my classroom (not my students)
at Sturgis Youth Theatre.
My primary acting teachers have been David W. Hoover (graduate-level), Richard Glockner, Gwendolyn Schwinke, Susan Schuld, and Tyler Hayes Stillwill. My training has focused on Practical Aesthetics, as well as Meisner and Stanislavsky-based approaches, the Linklater Progression, Feldenkrais Method, Viewpoints, Laban Efforts, and Checkov Work. I studied Theatre in Education under Gretta Breghammer and Voice/Music Pedagogy under Dr. Jean McDonald.