Grease

How to Sing While Breaking a Sweat: Tips for Triple Threats

Grease

John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, and Catherine Zeta-Jones are just a few of the Hollywood celebrities known for being “triple threats”–skilled in singing, dancing, and acting. Here, Corona, CA teacher Milton J. shares his tips for reaching their superstar status…

 

So you’ve decided to take vocal lessons to learn how to sing better, but the buck doesn’t just stop there for your own ambitions. You have your eyes set on the stage and the screen, and you won’t stop until you’re there. You may be doe-eyed and eager to learn, but you’re sure of where you want to end up. Your guide is nigh–just remember The Three P’s: Preparation, Practice, and Performance.

Preparation

That first wonderful step is taking vocal lessons. (And if you haven’t started those yet, what are you waiting for?! Book lessons with me, or find a teacher near you!) Finding a vocal teacher is very important in order for you to understand how to use your entire vocal cavity–not just how to sing. Taking vocal lessons will indeed improve your speaking and recitation voices as well.

Next, taking acting classes and workshops will allow you to put those new speaking and singing tools you’ve acquired into action, all the while improving your cue, marking, beat, and improvisation skills. From there, taking dance classes will start the third leg of your Triple-Threat race. Taking dance lessons will help you continue improving the skills you’ve picked up in your acting classes while adding in rhythm, technique, ensemble and solo routine, and vocal/dance incorporation.

Practice

You’ve heard the old adage time and time again–Practice Makes Perfect. It’s been around so long because it’s true; the best way to improve yourself after you’ve acquired the tools is to cultivate them into skills. After your vocal lessons, it’s important to do your daily vocal warm-ups and exercises to continue building strength in the muscles of your vocal cavity. After your acting classes and workshops, continue to run lines, blocking, and scene rehearsing. Visualization with a virtual stage at home can help to put all phases of your scene together. And after your dance lessons, continue doing your daily stretches and routine practicing in order to polish them up for the next class and, ideally, the eventual performance. P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E!

Performance

After the preparation, and after all of the practicing, the payoff draws near–the Performance. With your vocal lessons, seek out vocal opportunities either solicited from your vocal teacher or elsewhere. Community choral groups are a wonderful place to learn how to sing with others and cultivate your musical score reading skills. As a solo singer, your local coffee shop, bar, or music store may lead open mic nights for you to pop into and sing a few selections you’ve been working on for an audience.

For acting, look into your local community theater companies for audition opportunities. Check the audition dates (usually on their website or the theater box office) and ask your acting instructor for input on audition pieces if you haven’t already.

Lastly, for dancing, dance showcases are the perfect opportunity to strut your stuff. If you’re attending classes at a dance studio, chances are they’ll have a showcase coming up. If not, actively seek out showcases you can audition for–try your city’s Park and Recreation department, or other local dance studios. These organizations are always looking for new undiscovered talent or new dancers to join their ranks.

Preparation is the first step, Practice makes perfect, and the Performance is the goal. Now that you’re set with The Three P’s, you’re on your way to becoming the Triple Threat you know you can be! Break a leg!

MiltonJMilton K. teaches guitar, piano, singing, music recording, music theory, opera voice, songwriting, speaking voice and acting lessons in Corona, CA. He specializes in classical, R&B, soul, pop, rock, jazz, and opera styles. Learn more about Milton here!

 

 

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How to Become an Actor: Why, How, and Where to Network

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Networking is a huge part of becoming an actor–the more people you know, the more opportunities you’re likely to find! Here, Brooklyn, NY teacher Liz T. shares her tips for networking success…

 

Being a professional actor is no easy task, but making sure you are at the right place at the right time in front of the right people will definitely increase your odds of getting noticed in the entertainment industry! Here’s my advice on how to become an actor through successful networking:

1. Move to a city where acting is happening. You’ve got to place yourself where all the action is happening; NYC, LA, Boston, Chicago, Nashville, Las Vegas, and Orlando are just a few cities where there are many acting opportunities in film, TV, and theater. Perform as much as you can in your hometown and use the resources you have there to help you save your pennies and prepare you for moving to a big city!

2. Get involved. Start going on auditions for theater or film. You never know what kind of actors you may meet at these auditions, who may help you in your career, or the types of directors you will be seen by. These casting directors are the key to getting you in front of the camera or on stage, so it is wise to make yourself noticed (in a positive way). Many casting directors also have meet-and-greets at auditions, or you can look into seminars that you can attend at a low cost, such as Actorfest or Talent Meet Rep in NYC. Also, start registering with the casting directors in your city–many will keep you on file, so when a major film or TV show is in your city, they could perhaps call you for work! Being a background actor in film and TV is a great way to start.

3. Attend shows and classes. Take as many dance, theater, and acting classes as you can. Again, you never know who is watching and what connections you may make! Treat every improv class or Broadway show as a new opportunity and chance to network with other people who are passionate about your career. This will keep your acting skills fresh!

4. Use social media to network. I have gotten so many of my acting and music contacts just by simply having a professional presence on social media. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to your advantage to follow actors that inspire you, and learn about new shows and companies. It is a great way to start that personal connection! Also, start a website that showcases your work, resume, headshots, etc. Again, you want to a create a strong presence!

5. Be your own agent. Trying to find an agent can be a very daunting task, so don’t be afraid to be your own agent and constantly submit yourself for roles, showcases, and jobs. You can also create your own opportunities by writing a musical you could star in or a screenplay you could envision yourself acting in.

Now that you know how to become an actor, make sure to continue improving your skills through classes or private acting lessons. Keep your head up, and with hard work and determination you will be on your way to becoming a successful actor!

LizTLiz T. teaches online singing, acting, and music lessons. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

 

 

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4 Drama Techniques to Always Remember

Drama Techniques That Are Important To KnowStars like Meryl Streep and Al Pacino make it look easy, but if you want to become a professional actor, don’t expect to rely on talent alone. Even if you’re a natural performer who can cry on command and memorize lines, you’ll need to learn the following fundamental drama techniques to really master the art of acting.

1. Vocal Dynamics

Your lines are just words until you deliver them, but unless your voice is well-trained, they’ll still fall flat or sound forced. In order to accurately portray different characters and emotions, you need to expand your vocal toolbox and learn about the ways that range, pitch, and pronunciation affect your performance. Sometimes you need to adopt an unfamiliar accent or use slang naturally; other times you must change your pitch to communicate building anger, excitement, or sadness.

If you hope to perform in theatrical productions, vocal projection is an incredibly important skill. Whether you dream of exciting Broadway musicals or quiet, character-driven dramas, it’s equally important to work on your volume, range, and pitch so the audience can hear and understand you!

2. Body Language and Mannerisms

Stage directions are separate from spoken lines, but they work together to explain the events of the plot and clarify each character’s emotions and personalities. Actors bring their characters to life by moving, reacting, and even standing in nuanced ways that are natural for their character. Very subtle differences in posture, walking speed, or even the force with which you pick up a prop can speak volumes about your character’s intentions.

For example, if your character is angry at another character, your body language should be as tense as possible. You might pace back and forth within a small space as the other actor speaks, or tense your shoulders and clench your fists; these all indicate levels of restraint and anger. If your character is relieved or excited, put a “swing” in your step and relax your shoulders to express openness and contentment. Watching real-life examples is a great way to study this important drama technique. The next time you’re out and about, observe how strangers stand and readjust themselves during long conversations, or how a friend moves her arms while walking down a sidewalk.

3. Use and Awareness of Space

It’s important to be aware not just of your “marks” on stage, but also of the actors who must interact with or move past you. Your position on the stage or set affects everything from lighting and sound to camera angles and audience perspective. If you know how to make use of the space around you–and seamlessly hit the right marks at the right time–it will show immediately in your performances and auditions. You’ll look and sound more authentic, it will be easier for other actors to do their jobs, and you can focus on losing yourself within a fictional world.

4. Improvisational Techniques

You might associate improvisation with comedy clubs and sketch shows, but on-the-spot creativity is a skill that comes in handy for actors of every discipline. For example, if a castmate flubs his line during a live performance, you must be able to think on your feet and respond like your character would; if you’re convincing, the audience won’t even realize there was a mistake.

Group improv exercises are great practice for this, as they force you out of your comfort zone and require you to come up with believable, funny, or relevant responses to a wild variety of unrelated prompts. Comedic actors develop a better sense of timing and rhythm by practicing improvisation, and dramatic actors benefit just as much. T

Ultimately, mastering these drama techniques will make it easier to shed your own identity and become your character. When you’re aware of your voice, mannerisms, and movements, you can combine them in infinite ways to communicate the moods, feelings, and backgrounds of the characters you play. Practice this, and soon it will become like second nature!

 

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The Actor’s Life for Me: How to Make a Living (and a Life!) as an Actor

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What do you need to succeed in the arts? Is it possible to make a living with an actor/actress salary? Learn the ins and outs of the on-screen or on-stage life in this guest post by Saint Paul, MN acting teacher Emily B...

 

While you may not have chosen a traditional career path, pursuing the life of an actor does not mean you must be flung out into the abyss without a safety net, prepared only to fly or fall. There are many ways to build a life worth living as an actor. In my experience, these are a few of them.

Know what you want.

This may seem like an obvious first step when choosing a career path, but its importance cannot be underestimated. Be realistic about your desires without losing the passion and enthusiasm you have for your craft. Consider the city you live in. Would you be happy staying there, working locally? If your desire is to act in television, film, or larger theatres, your geographical options may be confined to areas better suited to those goals. Labor unions like the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and Actors Equity Association (AEA) are more active in certain parts of the country. They provide benefits and establish a standard actor and actress salary based on the type of project. No matter where you end up, remember everyone is different and despite the many opinions you may hear, there is no “right way” to start a career as an actor.

Create your own work.

Not only is creating your own work essential to your artistic development, with potential to grow your visibility and connections in the field, it can be incredibly fulfilling! As an actor, if you wait for opportunities to present themselves without putting forth any effort, you will be waiting for a very long time. Find out how to enter local fringe festivals or write a play and cast actors you want to work with for a workshop production.

I can personally attest to the value of creating your own work. I spent the summer after I left drama school adapting Richard Boleslavsky’s 1933 novel Acting: The First Six Lessons with my father. We developed it into a two-person play that we performed for free in workshop-form at a library, a community center, and finally as a full production at Theatre West in Los Angeles. Representatives from Samuel French saw the play and it was published in 2011. An effort that began as a purely creative endeavor became something I now continue to benefit from (personally, creatively, and financially) years later.

Make a financial plan.

If one thing is certain about an actress salary, it is that it’s never certain. While not exactly glamorous, a financial plan is necessary to navigate the feast and famine of an actor’s life and to avoid burning out when work is slow. This will not look the same for everyone. Some people work full-time jobs to save up money and then take six months to a year off to focus on auditions, while others may find temporary work that they are able to leave easily when they are cast.

In my own experience, a balance between these two is ideal. I currently work part-time for a nonprofit arts organization and teach private acting classes. This allows me to remain financially stable and still have time to audition and work as an actor in film, theatre, commercials, and television.

Important: Remember that a “financial plan” is not the same as a “backup plan.” In my opinion, the phrase “backup plan” was created to undermine the professionalism and dedication of those who work in the arts. While a small percentage of actors are able to work without the support of a second income, it is common (and encouraged!) to make your finances work with your chosen career path. Find what works best for you.

Use the resources available to you.

Did you know you can write off travel for auditions, acting classes, headshots, and mailing supplies on your taxes? Many cities have nonprofit organizations that offer financial and legal advice to artists at little to no cost. If you belong to SAG-AFTRA or AEA, there are programs that can help you with everything from housing to retirement planning and access to health clinics.

Be kind to yourself.

If being an actor were easy, more people would do it. You have chosen this path, so own that choice. Remember not to get down on yourself if you go a while without booking something good. Create your own opportunities to fill the spaces between new projects. Find a theatre company or group of actor friends to develop your ideas and practice your skills. Keep training. Cultivate a supportive network of friends, family, and fellow actors to navigate the ups and downs.

While your chosen path is often competitive and unpredictable, it can also be deeply rewarding. Remember that your options are not limited to anyone else’s idea of what an acting career should look like. Give yourself time, space, practice, and patience. The best goal is not to simply make a living, but to make a life!

EmilyBEmily B. teaches acting in Saint Paul, MN. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Performance from Fordham University, and her Masters in Arts and Cultural Leadership from the University of Minnesota. Learn more about Emily here!

 

 

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So, Your Child Wants to Be an Actor? 3 Ways to Help Them Get Ahead

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Does your son or daughter have stars in their eyes and big Hollywood dreams? Find out how to tell if your child is ready for their acting debut–and the right things to work on–in this guest post by Glendale, CA teacher Nicole E...

 

Your child is the most special and precious thing in the world to you, but how do know if they are ready for the real world of a working actor? Lets face it, there are hundreds of kids arriving in LA everyday with the same hopes and dreams, and a lot of them have more experience or better connections. Living in LA is expensive, driving to and managing auditions can be extremely stressful, and facing constant rejection is hard for any adult, much less a young child.

So how do you know if it’s all worth it? In my time teaching classes at a “find you at the mall” kind of place, I learned how to distinguish between the kids who actually had talent, and the kids who were being scammed. There were parents who were struggling to pay their bills yet were dishing out thousands of dollars on acting classes for kids, fueled by the idea that their child would become a gold mine. In reality, that’s almost never the case.

The most important question you can ask yourself is “Why are we really doing this?”. If it’s for money–you will fail. Fame–you will fail. Pretty much any reason other than your child having a burning passion for what they do–you will fail. This may seem harsh, but in this industry you have to be able to separate yourself from the parent role and look at things from an outside perspective. You can be the best actor mom in the world, but booking the job is up to them. In order for a child actor to work they have to master three very important qualities:

1. Articulation - You would be amazed at how many children struggle to say their own name when put under pressure. You have to work with your child on delivering a clean, clear slate (name, age representation). When a casting director is seeing 100 kids for one line in a commercial, any mumbling or a lack of projection can be reason enough not to forward you on to the director.

2. Memorization - If your child starts booking acting jobs, they will be expected to perform at the level of adult working actors. They will have a call time, and they will have lines. Whether your child is at reading age or not, you must always be 100% off-book when you arrive on set. The best thing you can do to prepare them is to practice memorization in all aspects of life. Have them relay the plot of a movie you just watched, sing songs without looking at the lyrics, remember the grocery list, or recite the alphabet; anything you can do to stretch their memory will benefit you when it comes time to work.

3. Stage Presence - There is simply no room for shyness in an audition room. Your child will have to walk into a room full of strangers and look them in the eyes. Your child has to be okay with being seen. Notice how your child responds to attention, ask their teachers how they respond when being called on in class, and ask them to preform for family members to see if they clam up or shine under the pressure. If your child is constantly putting on shows for you in the living room, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will do the same when commanded to. Work with your child to achieve a level of professionalism that will stand out. They will start to understand that when audition time comes, they need to shift into working mode and deliver. Have your child introduce themselves when meeting new people or have them perform for people whom they may not be as comfortable around. It’s all about stretching that comfort zone.

All of these points can be practiced at home, however your child can benefit greatly from professional coaching and acting classes for kids. You can lay the groundwork, but there will always be a clear separation between the children who are trained and the ones who are not. You want to give your child as many tools as possible so that they feel ready and capable of delivering a solid performance.

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars a month, but you do need to find an acting coach that your child is comfortable with. This may take time, but it will be worth it when you see them start to hone their craft and become little professionals. The journey for child actors can be a long and difficult one, and it’s your job to make sure their egos and self-esteem stay intact. Focus on delivering a good performance every time, as opposed to booking the job, and be sure to let your child know that you are proud of them no matter what. The tools mentioned above are important, but the biggest thing you can give your child is support.

NicoleENicole E. teaches acting in Glendale, CA. She attended New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, and taught classes for International Preforming Arts Academy for two years. Learn more about Nicole here! 

 

 

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How to Get Into Acting: 3 Simple Success Strategies

3821894029_578c6ce1be_bWondering how to get into acting, or what exactly it takes? Here are three tips to keep in mind, from Tampa, FL teacher Matthew B

 

You can be successful in the entertainment business if you are prepared and willing to work hard to achieve your goals. I have provided three simple strategies in this blog post to help you succeed in the business. Each strategy has a personal story from my own career that highlights how it has worked for me.

1. Be willing to try a job in your arts career field that you may not have considered. This may be done by seeking out a paid internship or seasonal opportunity.
Example: In 2007, I was looking for a summer stock opportunity to supplement my acting education at UW-Milwaukee. A professor brought a theatre education internship in Florida to my attention and thought that I might be interested based on my personality and personal discipline. I applied for and was offered an education internship with Florida Studio Theatre and my entire career path changed after that exciting summer. I never thought about theatre education as a career until I spent those three months in Sarasota. That job opened the door to many exciting jobs. I would have never been a member of the theatre faculty at the Patel Conservatory, an accredited performing arts school in Tampa, or toured the Midwest as a tour director with Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre if I hadn’t jumped at the opportunity to be an education intern with FST.

2. Never give up! Don’t let rejection discourage you.
Example: In the second grade I was asked to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up for the spring choir concert and I immediately knew my answer. A clown with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I never gave up on that childhood dream and in November 2012, my dream came true! My dream came true after I attended three Ringling Bros. Clown auditions (2008, 2010, and 2012), many clown workshops and self-produced five original clown-theatre productions. I even took one of my productions to the New York Clown Theatre Festival. My dream came true after plenty of hard work and being rejected twice at auditions. I ended up touring as a clown and pre-show host with Ringling Bros. Circus for almost two years, only recently returning to Tampa to teach theatre again. Stay determined!

3. Broadway couldn’t survive without regional theatre.
Example: Think about how you became passionate about theatre or the performing arts. Chances are you went to several theatre summer camps, took a theatre class after school, performed in your high school’s musical, saw a play produced by a professional children’s theatre company or maybe even attended Shakespeare in the park during some point of your childhood. No one on this earth would have the desire to travel to New York to see CATS or WICKED if regional and community theatre didn’t exist because there would be no way to spark the passion to create or desire to see theatre in anyone as a child or young adult. I am proud to say that I love being a professional regional theatre actor. I have worked at great companies such as Orlando Rep, Skylight Music Theatre, American Stage, Broadway Dinner Theatre in the Dells, and Walt Disney World. Not once have I had to wait tables or wash dishes to make ends meet as an actor. Not everyone can be on Broadway, but being on Broadway doesn’t equal success.

Please check out my TakeLessons profile if you have been inspired by my blog and want to learn more about how to get into acting!

MatthewB

Matthew B. teaches acting, speaking voice, stage performance, and more in Tampa, FL, as well as online. He has his BFA in Acting from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Learn more about Matthew here! 

 

 

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6 Mistakes You’re Making on Your Acting Resume

acting auditionProfessional actors often can’t help but feel a little powerless when it comes to the process of auditioning and booking jobs. Sure, from the outside people think that actors have some say in creative aspects, but your input and personal preferences are really quite insignificant in the process (well, not until you’re on a Brangelina level at least). So while you’re on your way to superstardom, it’s smart to leverage the opportunities at hand.

The first area you have control of as an actor is the manner in which you’re represented to casting directors and agents. This starts with a professional and relevant acting resume. So pull it up on your computer now as we reveal a few common acting resume mistakes that could be costing you work.

1. Too Many Stats

You’ll need to give a director or agent just the basics about your physical appearance. Most acting resumes go a bit overboard with inseams, collar, bust sizes, and so on. Even eye and hair color don’t need to be stated as it should be pretty obvious from your headshot. To be frank, the director does not care about that kind of stuff – in many cases he or she only needs to know your height and weight.

2. Home Address

There’s no need to include your home address on your acting resume. It in fact comes across a little naïve, especially if you’re a young actress.

3. Unrealistic Age Range

Be careful about being unrealistic about your age range. In the hopes of getting more work, many actors list a large age range. This doesn’t help the person reviewing your resume at all. It’s actually better to leave out your age range altogether and let them decide if you’re suitable for the part or not.

4. Incomplete Work History

This section will naturally make up the brunt of your resume, so here are a few mistakes to avoid when outlining your experience:

  • Don’t just list the name of the character you’ve played before. The director gets very little insight if he or she simply sees Susan on Homeland. Instead, include your previously played roles as Guest Star or Co-Star. An exception to this rule is theater. If you’ve been part of a well-known play, then it’s OK to list the character’s name. As with all resume writing, make sure you’re speaking in the language of your potential employer.
  • While we’re on the subject of theater, don’t forget to include both the name of the director and the theater. Some would-be actors just include the director’s name, which doesn’t help if he or she is little known.
  • Don’t include work as an “extra” on your acting resume. Of course, we all want to appear super experienced, but extra work does not really mean much to directors or talent agents in terms of your acting ability. Also, don’t try to bend the truth – an extra role is not a feature. Integrity will ensure longevity in the industry when you make it big!
  • Don’t forget about listing student films you’ve participated in. Directors and agents do like to know that you have experience on set. Just remember to include the name of the school you shot for as well.

Also: the word ‘recurring’ is probably one of the most commonly misspelled words on an acting resume. Please get this one right – if you’ve played a recurring role make sure you’re expressing it correctly – ‘reoccurring’ and ‘re-occurring’ are incorrect words.

5. Lying About Languages

So we’re back on this issue of integrity. It’s important that you only list languages you are fluent in – and you must actually be fluent. Being able to pronounce a few words off a script is not enough. Some directors and agents will go as far as to test your fluency at your audition.

6. Misleading Headshots

A good-quality headshot should accompany your acting resume. And remember that your headshot needs to look like you! Tempting as it is, refrain from having your headshot retouched. This image needs to be an accurate representation of what you look like right now. What they see on your headshot and who they meet in person for a screen test should be exactly the same.

So there you go! We hope that these tips have given you some insight on how to edit your resume, which can give your career an extra-polished nudge in the right direction! Looking for additional help with drafting your acting resume? Get some pointers from one of our acting coaches in your city. Best of luck!

 

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4 Acting Styles to Explore | Tips From a Pro

6821238623_f33d01f161_bA big part of becoming an actor is exploring various acting styles, and figuring out where your strengths are. Read on to learn about some of the different types, courtesy of Brooklyn, NY teacher Liz T...

 

If you’re an actor starting out in your training, get ready to plunge into a variety of acting styles! As an actor you should familiarize yourself with all of the different acting styles at first, and then choose one to focus on. It is best to be well-rounded and to know the methods and skills used for each style of acting, and then see which style comes natural to you!

Acting for Film

This includes anything that is being filmed, such as movies, TV, webisodes, commercials, reality shows, hosting, and so on. Acting for film requires different techniques than you would use when performing on stage (which I will talk about in my next topic). Everything seen and heard on TV is different, when it comes down to the actual filming process of it. Most often you will not be in front of a live audience, but will perhaps be doing a scene with a partner. The scene may be shot by the director a thousand times before moving on, so patience and stamina are a must. You have to make the scene look fresh each time you film it, because you never know which take they are going to use! Acting for film requires you to go more into depth, while paying attention to your facial expressions in front of the camera and the volume of your speaking voice.

Acting for the Stage

Where in acting for film you do not have to project your voice as much, in theater you have to work on projecting your voice loud enough so that the entire theater can hear you without having to use a microphone! In theater, you may be doing the same show eight times a week, and again have to keep it fresh for the audience each time, as it is a brand new performance. On stage, you also have to be conscious of your movement, your surroundings, and how you interact with the other cast members, scenery, props, and so on. You have to be able to think on your feet if something doesn’t go exactly right on stage, and always stay in character. Unfortunately during a live show there is no “going back” – you can’t re-shoot like you can in film, so you you must move forward!

Classical Acting

Classical acting consists of mostly dramatic works, including plays, works by Shakespeare, monologues, and some comedy dating back to 1500 B.C. Classical acting is still appreciated today, and requires lots of training to perfect. To go more in depth with classical acting, I recommend diving into Shakespeare and other serious playwrights such as Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, and Neil Simon. Work on those dramatic monologues, and perfect your delivery, accents, and scene work with props. Classical acting is not for the “wannabe” actor – it is taken very seriously and is highly respected. Most dramas took place over in Europe, so you’ll also want to become familiar with different times and points in history.

Improvisation

This is one of the more contemporary acting styles, which requires a lot of imagination and creativity! Based on having fun and letting loose, improv troupes are quite popular today, especially among the 20- to 30-year-old range. Improv training consists of learning silly acting games or acting out skits and scenarios, and is usually performed in front of a live audience on stage. If you’re interested in learning more about this acting style, try watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Saturday Night Live for inspiration! You can also take improv classes or find an acting teacher to help you improve your skills. With improv, you must be confident enough to perform on your own, but you also need to have the skills to perform in a group and work with your teammates!

Each actor is called to a different acting style, whether it be for film, TV, or in a classical or improvisational role. I encourage you to study each, and see which of the acting styles you enjoy the most! Best of luck!

LizTLiz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons in Brooklyn, NY, as well as online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

 

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Becoming an Actor with No Experience: Is it Possible?

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Dreaming of making it big on screen or on stage, but worried you don’t have the right amount of experience? Read on as teacher Matthew H. shares his advice… 

 

While becoming an actor may seem extremely difficult in and of itself, without any experience it may even feel nearly impossible. However, what we often fail to realize is that the process alone of becoming an actor is filled with lessons that add to our overall experience and skill set. In fact, there’s actually no such thing as no experience when becoming an actor. Regardless if you choose to act as a hobby or have dreams to make it big as a working actor, here are some tips to refine your skills and get noticed.

First, let’s go over some basic definitions:

What is acting? This may seem obvious, but you have to have a clear understanding of what the art/craft/profession of acting is before embarking on any sort of career in the field. Many definitions exist, but some of the most prevalent ideas state that acting is “reacting to given stimuli” and “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” These viewpoints have been adopted by many conservatories and theater schools that teach diverse techniques by famous actors and directors such as Meisner and Stanislovski. With this understanding of acting, we can say that acting essentially is an extension of living.

Who are actors? Based on the above definition of acting, we all are actors. Everyone you encounter on the street is an actor. All people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, social status, and so on necessarily are performing on a daily basis. We all react to stimuli in different ways, having to negotiate all sorts of situations in which we find ourselves. In fact, as individuals we are placed in multiple roles that we have to fulfill (son/daughter, coworker, friend, student), sometimes simultaneously. So rather than worrying about becoming an actor, we should focus more on tapping into the actor that is already inside of each of us.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s address the real question: how do you become successful as an actor? Well, the short answer is to just act. If you want to make it on Broadway or in Hollywood, then you’ll have to join the appropriate union (SAG, AE, etc.). Gaining membership is tricky, as these organizations have unique systems that require having performed in certain types of shows. The best way to overcome this is to find as many different opportunities as you can and audition. Do the community theater musicals, help your friends out with a role in their film class’ final project, make your own YouTube series, do whatever comes your way. This will give you the experience you need to hone in your acting skills, as well as create some visibility for yourself within the greater acting community. Someone may see you in a small, unpaid role and think that you’d be perfect in a larger production. In this regard, flexibility is an actor’s greatest asset.

While there is no one right way to become an actor, you cannot wait to “get discovered.” In fact, you have to go out of your way to make people notice you (for the right reasons), and then you will be one step closer to realizing your dream of becoming an actor.

MatthewHMatthew H. teaches a variety of subjects both online and in New Milford, NJ. He recently received his MA from NYU with a background in Sociolinguistics and related research. Learn more about Matthew here! 

 

 

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Acting 101: What Can I Expect at My First Acting Lesson?

6644062535_e2e0422733_b Gearing up for your first acting lesson? Here, teacher Matthew H. explains what to expect at your first lesson, including some of the acting exercises you’ll likely do, and more…

So this is it. You’ve always wanted to act and made the first step in the right direction: taking acting lessons. While some celebrities have had incredible luck with “being discovered,” the vast majority of talented actors and actresses have extensive training, whether attending one of the top acting schools or conservatories, or having taken private lessons.

What can you expect at the first lesson? You may have had a small role in the ensemble of a high school musical or community theater production. You may have zero experience whatsoever and feel like you’re taking a bit of a risk with this investment for your future. Either way, you probably will be nervous and feeling somewhat vulnerable on the first day. That is a good thing! Regardless of the specific technique, acting is all about accessing different human emotions and relating to others based on shared experience. An actor is constantly putting himself or herself in vulnerable situations for an entire audience to see. Tap into that raw sensation and embrace it!

You might take a private lesson or feel more comfortable taking a group class. Regardless, you will be exposed to a bunch of different acting exercises and “games” that will seem awkward at first, but will gradually grow on you until you are not only comfortable with them, but looking forward to participating in them! An actor’s major tool is the body, and anyone interested in getting into acting will need to have complete control over everything their voice and body does. To do that, most lessons typically begin with physical exercises of some sort. You may spend some time working on breathing, such as how to properly take in a large quantity of air and use it to its fullest potential. This will aid in reducing anxiety and improving the quality of your speaking voice, which is vital in both stage and screen acting.

Next, you most likely will continue with a few minutes of stretching to loosen up your muscles. Since almost all plays, musicals, movies, and TV shows (unless you are playing a character in a coma on a soap opera) require movement, you have to be very aware of how your body works. Leg stretches, shoulder rolls, and maybe even some jumping jacks to get the blood flowing will make an appearance. The goal is to eliminate any tension your body is holding onto as much as possible. Doing so will allow you to easily engage when on stage.

Now, we enter into the more “awkward” aspects of a lesson: preparation exercises and improvisation. Acting exercises and theater games such as “zip zap zop” keep actors (in a group setting) on their toes as they have to maintain their focus and attention. While the activity may seem ridiculous at first (shouting nonsense words while making unusual gestures), this leads you develop basic acting skills such as the famous “living in the moment.” Additionally, improv games (anything from “Whose Line Is It Anyway”) will keep you on your toes as you further fine-tune important skills like paying attention, maintaining eye contact, and working together while you start to develop and craft characters, however profound they may or may not be.

Eventually, the more lessons you attend and the more advanced you become, you will tackle monologues, scenes, and perhaps even put on a full-length performance to help gain experience on your quest to getting into acting. Depending on your level and particular needs, you may venture into audition preparation and go over ways to carry yourself and present a headshot, in addition to nailing cold readings. The best teacher is real-world experience, and acting lessons will provide you with what you need to make the most out of those experiences!

MatthewHMatthew H. teaches a variety of subjects both online and in New Milford, NJ. He recently received his MA from NYU with a background in Sociolinguistics and related research. Learn more about Matthew here! 

 

 

 

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