Acting is such a personal individual work of art and when you market it daily, it can really make a person feel fragile. Therefore, find a teacher that is supportive, kind and creative. It’s very important that you have a teacher that can find the good moments in your acting and inspire you to achieve more of these moments. If you don’t feel inspired and psyched, then you don’t have the right teacher.
I’ve seen countless students leaving my class on the first day, psyched and excited for the entire semester. There is nothing better for a new actor than that first time you actually have genuine organic feeling on stage. I’m not saying that that is all acting is, but for a teen or child actor to actually have a vent for their emotions is an awesome thing. What happens is immediately you feel validated for feeling stuff! I can cry and people applaud. I can scream, go numb, yell, be rude, plead and hoop and holler. One big thing that helped me when learning this work in college was that I was finally approved of by my teachers who were experts in their fields and therefore, my confidence went up and self-validation went up. I’ve seen it at the school on the very first day and it is wonderful.
Nervous? Shy? Anxious? Hardworking? Overly-ambitious? Angry? Lost? Sad? Excited? Happy? Unsure? Uncertain? Pessimistic? Resistant? Scared? All of the above and more are what comes through our studio doors every first day at the Young Actor’s Studio. The very first thing in teaching acting is that you have to make sure the students feel safe. Kids and teens always have to achieve and compete but they are rarely told to just be. Nearly all students relax and open up completely once they realize that this is the case. Acting allows you to just be. In my work and because of my own nerves and “stage freight,” I focus on using the first day jitters. There will always be first day jitters. The first day of class, the first day of rehearsals, filming, television, read-throughs or auditions. It took me a long time to realize that some of our greatest actors have stage fright. Having sensitivity and strong emotions are actually talent.
Speaking out is one of the most valuable tools that I use to assist me in the work I teach. Speaking out is talking what is on your mind with no filter. It can be, “oh my this feels really dumb,” “I don’t know what I’m doing here,” “I’m nervous, I’m scared, I feel fat, the teacher hates my acting” and so on. The negative thought process is something we all possess. The inner critic that judges us repeatedly and in most cases is inaccurate. My teacher at Strasberg in New York City was Irma Sandrey. Irma used this technique all the time. I learned that this was an awesome way of dealing with stage fright and using it to create great work. Speaking out can also include an inner monologue for the character you are acting.
Don’t ever underestimate the quiet, shy, shut off or awkward teen. They are that way as a defense and countless numbers of them come to The Young Actor’s Studio and many develop into great actors. It’s as if they are coming to acting because they want to break out of it but can’t seem to know how. We can help them and you will too. If you are from out-of-town and auditioning, try speaking out without actually speaking when you are at the audition or in your production. Literally take a pause in the script and think your “speaking out” in the form of a monologue.
Being aware, relaxed and honest can make it easy to act difficult scenes or situations. It is a state of concentration and relaxation. Stanislavski called this the creative emotional state. When you are alert and relaxed, very often the scene just comes naturally out of it’s own accord. Plus, simply being that it’s the first day on a set or first day of rehearsal can very often provide enough emotion to act the role even if that’s all you get in touch with. You already possess the inner stuff to act any role.
This information is from my soon to be released acting book called “A Young Actor Prepares.” More to come.