My name is Melissa, but those who train with me call me “PK” — short for Professor Kollwitz. The name stuck, but the career path changed, when I left academia in 2020 after a decade serving as a Theatre professor. I am a proud multi-hyphenate and believe that artists should not have to limit themselves to one area of expertise. In addition to coaching for acting and voice, which are my favorite areas of teaching, the breadth of my artistry includes experience as a playwright, director, choreographer, actor, and producer (resumés available upon request).
The PK Method
I created the PK Method to address the gaps in learning that traditional academic settings failed to address, both for me as a student and a professor. My mission is to inspire actors and artists, through hyper-practical techniques, to find the most efficient and economical way to use their voices and bodies expressively. The PK Method is all about empowering performers by demystifying acting and voicework through concrete, repeatable techniques to help them feel more confident in building and maintaining an artistic practice. We are, after all, what we do consistently.
I am passionate about teaching artists self-regulation strategies to cope with performance anxiety, and promoting autonomy and resilience in their practice so they can show up more fully and authentically as themselves in the room. I provide career coaching to actors so they can practice growth mindset and begin to unpack the ways their socialization has limited them from showing up fully as themselves in their work.
I attended the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London where I received my MFA in Voice Studies: Teaching and Coaching. I am a certified Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework, and have trained in Knight-Thompson Speechwork. Recent professional development includes a certificate in Mental Health First Aid and training with Theatrical Intimacy Educators in Consent-Based and Trauma-Informed Practices. My work has been published in American Theatre and VASTA's Voice & Speech Review (see below).
I have held faculty positions in at Marymount Manhattan College, New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts, and New York Film Academy (NYC), as well as New World School of the Arts (Miami). I have experience as a Visiting Professional for the the MFA Voice Studies cohort at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and for the MFA Performance Pedagogy cohort at Loyola Marymount University. My early years in higher ed were spent assistant teaching at the Yale School of Drama, and teaching for various Fitzmaurice Voicework workshops in NYC. I have coached internationally from London’s Young Vic (Off West End), to NYC (Off Broadway).
During my time at MMC, I received a grant for Conversations on Diversity and Social Justice and a Mellon Immersive and Integrative Pedagogy grant. I served as Co-Chair for the President's Advisory Committee for Inclusivity and received the award for Outstanding Faculty member in the Fine and Performing Arts Division. My first publication with the Voice & Speech Review received the first ever Rocco dal Vera Graduate Research Award.*