Training

22 03 2015

I do believe very much in getting training as an actor. From the right place. What is the right place? The right place is one that challenges you – possibly to the breaking point – but does not degrade you as a human being. Are there wildly successful actors who haven’t had a stitch of training? Absolutely. However, I think IF you have the interest in it, or IF you are not getting the results you want, training is something you should invest in.

I caution against any teacher or school that gives you the “you need to EAT SLEEP BREATHE acting” line. OR, as has happened to me, any school or teacher who gives you the idea that IF you get married, or have kids, or seek other parts of normal life, you CANNOT be an artist. THIS IS A LIE. And in fact, I believe those real life events I have experienced have informed my art in a way NO CLASS, TEACHER, OR SCHOOL could ever do. They work hand in hand: training, and experiencing real life in all its facets. After all, how do you expect to “live truthfully within the circumstances” of the character if you are too busy acting every second of your real life?

I am the product of a BA in Theatre Arts and an MFA in Acting and, full disclosure here, I very much believe that studying the art form you want to pursue is something you SHOULD do if you have the opportunity. Why not? Why not have that degree? I know very few actors who will knock themselves out of their casting bracket, age-wise, by spending a mere four years in college. And by the end of your studies, you have gained a world of knowledge that WILL be useful to you as a human being, not just as an artist. You also have a degree, that will allow you to pursue a higher degree, should you choose to, and to possibly teach with some degree of credibility.

One of the downsides of a college education in the arts is that, unless you go to a very few select group of colleges, it is rare to encounter a teacher in academia who is ALSO a professional actor. A CURRENTLY WORKING professional actor. This is the one aspect of my training which I feel was severely lacking, and one of the reasons I decided to write a book. Although my training made me adaptive, resilient, instinctual, and although I learned much about text, and playwrights, and styles of acting, I was at a serious loss for how to actually proceed in the BUSINESS of acting once I finished school.

Would I change anything about the way I have had to hack my way through the business end of things? No. But I do think that our colleges and universities are making a mistake by only hiring academics to teach students who want to be actors. I have a deep respect for professors who spend their lives seeking out educational experiences to pass onto their students, and I believe that purely academic teachers have an important role to play in the collegiate system. I DO think, however, that this purely academic part of actor training needs to be balanced by teachers who are professional actors, in order for the training to truly be effective, and to give students the edge they need in this business.

More later….

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