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3 Drama Games for Learning Method Acting

Drama Games For Method ActorsMethod acting requires you to fully embrace your transformation into your character. To create an authentic experience for your audience, you need to lose the speech inflections, facial expressions, and physical mannerisms that wouldn’t make sense. For example, when an actor plays a depressed man, his cynical speech won’t be convincing if he delivers it with perfect, confident posture.

When Hollywood stars stay in character between takes, or improv comedians wear disguises to interact with unwitting strangers, these actors are employing method acting techniques. You can follow in their footsteps by honing your method muscles with these easy, effective drama games.

Exercise Your Animal Instincts

Before you can transform your body to reflect a specific background or personality you must be fully aware of every inch of it. This exercise helps you do just that.

  • Pick an animal (this can be random).
  • Watch one closely: observe a pet up close or a zoo animal from afar, or simply watch wildlife documentaries.
  • Observe its behavior patterns, and if possible, how it reacts to you and other humans. Does it have a lot of energy? Is it shy and careful, or curious and hungry for attention? See if you can guess what it’s thinking.
  • Pay attention to the body parts you both share: hands, feet, eyes, etc. How does the animal use or hold them differently than you do? Do you make similar gestures in private, but not in public?
  • Perform as that animal. Show your audience how it would eat, fall asleep, play, etc. Lose social inhibitions; sit in unflattering positions if it’s more accurate. See if they can guess who you are.
  • After practicing on your own, portray that animal again. This time, there’s a twist: you have to stand upright and perform an actual monologue (or share a dialogue with someone else) as that animal.

By the final step, you’ll find yourself brainstorming specific ways to mimic the animal you chose. Instead of resorting to the obvious — distinct roars or squawks, crawling on all fours — drama games like this one force you to focus on the details. Stepping into a human character’s skin will feel easy after this!

The Coffee Cup Game

This tried-and-true game, an old favorite among acting coaches, will teach you how to ignore the limitations of your surroundings, and adjust your behaviors to accurately represent your character’s reality.

  • Sit down in front of a warm mug of coffee or hot chocolate.
  • Observe as much as you can without touching it; use your sense of sight and smell to figure out how big it is, how it must taste, and how heavy it will be.
  • Pick it up; were you right about the weight? Does it feel as smooth as you expected?
  • Switch it between your hands and hold it in different ways, noticing how your fingers, wrists, and arms adjust.
  • Sip it and hold it in your mouth, savoring its taste.
  • Swallow it, and notice how your body feels and moves as it goes down.
  • Put it down.
  • Repeat steps 4, 5, and 6 without the cup.

After enjoying the full sensory experience of a coffee mug, you should be able to immediately recreate your own behavior without it. The same thing happens with method acting; there’s just more time between you and the emotions you’re recreating.

Alone Time

To accurately recreate a character’s reality, you have to pretend you’re not performing at all. This isn’t easy, especially when you’re under a bright spotlight and have to exaggerate your voice or behaviors for a big audience. Plenty of drama games coax you into character, but this one actually requires you to be yourself; it’s the first step in adjusting your public behavior to create a private moment.

  • Imagine walls between you and your observers (classmates, instructor, friends who volunteer, etc.)
  • Think of something you usually do in private. This can be anything at all, as long as you normally stop doing it when someone walks into a room.
  • Do it! Dance with abandon, sing off-key, pick your wedgie, etc.

By stepping out of your comfort zone, you’ll be one step closer to stepping outside yourself the next time you perform.

Method actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis have decades of experience filling different characters’ shoes, and simulating senses and emotions they may not normally feel. They’re talented because they can successfully pull you into their movies, convincing you that fake knives actually cause them excruciating pain, or that a green-screen background is actually a monster they didn’t see coming. Drama games are still part of their arsenal today, in the form of rituals and off-set requests that keep them in character. Over time, you’ll develop your own arsenal of techniques to get into character; start now with these exercises!

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Top 5 Wildest Method Acting Techniques in Hollywood History

If you’ve ever watched an actor disappear into their role, shedding genuine tears or adopting mannerisms that aren’t their own, then you’ve seen method acting techniques in action. Most people think of this approach as “becoming a character,” and some actors do take that literally, pretending to actually be the person they’re playing. 

Method acting is taught everywhere from Hollywood to Broadway. But a few notable actors are well-known for taking it to award-winning extremes, making enormous physical and mental sacrifices in order to give realistic performances.

1. Daniel Day-Lewis – My Left Foot

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Daniel Day-Lewis is well-known for his extreme and hyper-realistic performances, but the most famous example of his method acting techniques is the role that won him the first of three Academy Awards. For My Left Foot, in which he portrayed a paralyzed artist, Day-Lewis lived in a cerebral palsy ward for eight weeks. He also spent the entirety of the film in a wheelchair; crew members had to carry him to each scene and spoon-feed him. According to The Telegraph, the Oscar wasn’t his only takeaway; he also ended up with two broken ribs as a result of all the time he spent slumped over in a chair.

2. Marlon Brando – The Men

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Today, the name Marlon Brando is synonymous with great acting. However, when Brando was preparing for his very first film role, he was desperate to give a realistic performance. His task: getting into character as a veteran who lost the use of his legs. Brando himself had a bad knee, but he was also rejected from military service in real life. To better understand the life of a paraplegic war hero, he stayed in a military hospital, just as the film’s screenwriter did. There, Brando spent two weeks using a wheelchair as he attended classes and therapy sessions with patients.

3. Adrien Brody – The Pianist

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When Adrien Brody won an Oscar in 2003, it was a pleasant shock. Not only was he the youngest Best Actor in history at age 29, everyone expected fellow method actor Daniel Day-Lewis to win for Gangs of New York. However, if you knew what Brody did to prepare for the part, his win wouldn’t come as a surprise at all. As he later detailed to the BBC, he fully committed to his transformation into Holocaust survivor Władysław Szpilman. Brody sold his apartment and car, did away with telephones, and even stopped eating, which helped him finally understand the “desperation” of hunger. He also became an actual pianist, practicing Chopin for four hours every day.

4. Jim Carrey – Man on the Moon

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Jim Carrey built a career out of uncanny imitations on the sketch show In Living Color. However, when he was cast in the biopic Man on the Moon, he shed his comic exaggerations to focus on a realistic portrayal of a man with larger-than-life quirks. Carrey took on the dramatic role of comedian Andy Kaufman, adopting his tics and erratic movements both on- and off-set. According to Entertainment Weekly, producers collected more than 200 hours’ worth of footage of Carrey living as Kaufman. He even befriended Kaufman’s real-life romantic partner, who filmed his behind-the-scenes antics.

5. Joaquin Phoenix – I’m Still Here

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Like Jim Carrey, Joaquin Phoenix is known for diving into roles. When he was filming Walk the Line, he insisted on being treated like Johnny Cash himself. However, his most iconic foray into method acting wasn’t related to a real-life character. For his friend Casey Affleck’s “mockumentary” I’m Still Here, Joaquin turned himself into an intriguing character. The actor bewildered his fans, critics, and the occasional talk show host by pretending to give up acting while cameras followed his “reinvention” as a less-than-talented rapper.

No matter what type of actor or actress you want to become, working with a private acting instructor is the best way to tweak your techniques and tap into your emotions. In order to truly master method acting techniques, you must demonstrate an ability to dedicate yourself fully to the art of acting, and nothing is more intensive than private lessons. Good luck!

 

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

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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 J. 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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