Become a Compelling Actor with New Acting Classes

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    Oct 18, 2013
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Acting for Film & Television: Movement
Acting for Film & Television: Movement
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I always start off a new acting class posing the same question to my students.  The question requires a little setup...

Say you have two stages, side by side.  And on each stage, the exact same scene is being played out by 2 different actors.  Call them Actor # 1 and Actor # 2.  The actor enters his office, sits at his desk, types out an e-mail, greets his boss as he walks by, makes a call to his wife, then walks to the window, looks out at the world, and contemplates his life as he sips his coffee.  Now one actor, say Actor # 1, is amazing... riveting, you can’t take your eyes off him.  Actor # 2, not so much.   You spend most of the time looking at your watch wondering when intermission is.  This is where the question comes in:


Why is it Actor # 1 is so compelling to watch, while Actor # 2 is not?  They’re doing the exact same thing, right?  Same blocking, same dialogue.  The scene runs the same amount of time.  In fact, let’s up the ante.  Say Actor # 2 is 10 times better looking.  GQ material.  And yet, after a few minutes, your eyes still wander back to Actor # 1. 


Here’s the thing.  More than ever, we’re living in a time when society, and the entertainment industry as a reflection, has never been more diversified.  Turn on HBO, go to your local DVD rental store, and check out who’s working the most.  It’s Actor # 1.  Big. small, male, female, younger, older, American, African-American, Spanish, Asian...  There’s no rhyme or reason.  Making a living at acting is truly an international dream that anyone can embrace.  You don’t have to be the A-List leading man or woman to make a living at it, there’s enough room for everyone as long as they’re that actor people are compelled to watch.  The question is, how do you know if you are or not?

See, contrary to popular belief, to be a great actor is not as easy as pulling up in LA and saying “here I am!” - You must seriously study acting to be every bit as in tune with your instrument as a guitarist is with his.  Except your instrument is yourself.  And the life around you, the other actors, they’re what play you. 

Your job is to be the most finely tuned instrument you can be, and that is what Actor # 1 has over Actor # 2.  His/her confidence, his feeling for the character, his suspension of disbelief, his ability to “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances,” (a great definition of acting according to the late Sanford Meisner), his ability to really listen and answer, and really “DO” what he is doing, even if it it’s just sipping at some coffee...  These are some of the many things that Actor # 1’s have over Actor # 2’s, who take the craft for granted.

The great news is, if you have the desire, most of this can be learned with practice.  Not that God-given talent doesn’t play a big part in the picture, because it does.  But heart and discipline can go a long way in assuring you that, whether it be on stage, in front of the camera, or in that all-important casting office, you are Actor # 1.

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