Acting is easy. If I gave you a script with a character that was similar in age, speech, disposition, emotional range to yourself; I put you in a relaxed environment with a good scene partner, I truly believe you could act well. Really well. In fact, sometimes the character doesn’t need to fit any of that criteria, but you pick up the script and it’s just easy.
We act everyday. We are different with our mothers, our friends, our lovers. We are constantly playing characters.
The problem is that there are times when it just isn’t easy. That could be for myriad of reasons. Maybe the character is complex, or the language is unfamiliar, whatever it may be, the reality is you get up on stage, or in front of the camera, and it just doesn’t work. We all know this feeling. And it’s an actor’s nightmare.
Our aim at StageMilk is to give acting advice that makes acting feel easy, more often. The reality is there will always be challenges, but the goal is to get to a point where you have a big enough toolbox, and enough experience, to unlock any scene and navigate your way to a path that once again feels easy: you’re not fighting the scene.
The corner stone of that ease, that flow, is relaxation. Being relaxed is the start of any great performance. The reality of finding relaxation is it comes from two things: knowledge and experience.
So the first step in getting to that point of flow and ease is to increase your knowledge. Reading more plays, acting books and becoming a bastion of language. For me this involves a nightly ritual of at least 30 mins of reading before bed. I always try and read a few pages out loud as well to feel the words and practice using the language.
Getting practical advice from peers and teachers is also invaluable. There are principles to acting that can be learned relatively quickly. It’s putting them into practice that takes time.
Try to learn more about voice and movement as well. Your voice and your body are equally important when it comes to your acting Understanding the value of breath support, articulation, flexibility and strength will help make you a better actor.
Seek out teachers to help you with problem areas. If you know your voice is where you’re weakest do some voice classes before paying for an improvisation course.
Having the knowledge is useless unless it is backed by practical work. You may understand the idea of an “action”, but how does it feel to use an action in a scene? Everything you learn must be practiced.
Working on scenes and monologues, taking acting classes and working on projects with friends are all great ways to hone your skills. Auditioning a lot is also a great way to up skill as an actor. If you’re just starting out audition for everything and say yes to everything. The only rule is to not listen to everything – there is a lot of bad advice in the world of unpaid acting work. Trust your gut and stay open minded.
We are all storytellers. And so most of our work when developing as actors is about unlocking what’s already there. Most of us started acting because we already had a natural ability to tell stories, or jokes. Don’t try and start from scratch. Work with what you’ve got and develop the areas you don’t feel confident in.