Andrew Caple-Shaw

Act of Communication

Punching a bully in the face makes me feel good. I’m not proud of how good. Comes from my childhood as a nerdy, socially awkward kid in North Texas. I got beat up a lot. A lot. 1980s beat up was a different kind of beat up. My parents signed me up for theater classes thinking the theater people would take me in. (They take in everybody.) They did. So I spent the rest of my youth escaping into characters in plays. I was lucky to be good at it. And to work professionally. Inspired by the stories I acted out, I made up my mind to write my own life adventure. At 6’1” and 120lbs (pause for a second to visualize that) I tried out for football in some crazed effort to face my tormentors. Each day I’d get hit so hard my head saw dirt a good 2 seconds before my tail did. Again and again. I’d bounce up and scream “You’re a [profanity]! I should be dead or unconscious as big as you are! Try again [profanity]!” Smash. Fade to black. Come to. Mouth off. Rinse and repeat. I got defiant in all aspects of life. My parents made reasonable requests like “Be home at a certain hour.” I prepared emancipation pleadings. Frustrated, the eventually gave up. I moved into a barn outside of town and turned it into a house. By 18 I had filled out. College football offers happened. I chose to play in LA. My dream was to be an academic someday. With no job experience outside of acting I figured maybe I’d do commercials or something to pay bills in school. A dozen years later I had a career in TV, was on the board of the Screen Actors Guild, in the Academy, and had worked with some pretty fancy people on some big name shows. Then came the writers strike. I thought we would be out 9 months. So I found a way to get a law degree in about a year and a half, which I did. It was going to be a shortcut to the professor gig I missed out on while acting. In law school someone told me I should do the mock trial program. “A monologue, some improve, another monologue, AND I get to write my own material?!” It was too good to be true. My teams had an unfair edge. I trained my classmates using the now decades worth of acting techniques I had accumulated through my life. We won. Every time. After graduation I went back to acting for work. But I missed the trial stuff. So I moved to Nashville and hung a shingle. Sadly, I was a one trick pony. Great at telling stories in a courtroom. Not so much in the office. But I was finding a niche teaching other lawyers what I knew. And then witnesses. As time passed I found myself working with the best lawyers in the country. (I had become like the lawyer equivalent of Tom Brady’s position coach.) As my reputation grew I joined the team at ACT of Communication. I was blessed to be mentored by the greatest of all time at what I do, Katherine James and Alan Blumenfeld, the two people who pioneered the application of acting technique to law going back four decades. I carry their legacy forward, now as the firm’s MP, adding new tools and techniques, with a recent emphasis on strategies to get lawyers out of their own heads. I’ve come full circle. Instead of playground bullies I get to punch huge corporations in the face. Punching a bully in the face makes me feel good.

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