All actors have to start somewhere, and all new actors (and maybe some more seasoned actors) all need to learn how to act. Now something I’d like to say is that teaching yourself really should function as a sort of stepping stone. Eventually you should be working with, and performing for others. But what if it isn’t feasible for you to learn in a more structured environment right now? Maybe you live far away from your nearest acting class. Maybe money is a little too tight. Or maybe you just don’t have the time. Don’t fret! There are a few ways for you to work on your acting by yourself, and in essence, teach yourself acting.
#1 Work on Monologues
Whether we like it or not, the best way for us to practice and better our acting is to do just that; to act! Start by choosing a monologue. It doesn’t matter if it’s a particularly famous one or not so long as you feel it resonates with you. Then just follow your instincts and see how it turns out! Film your performance on your phone and watch it back. Maybe it will be Oscar worthy, maybe it won’t. The point is that you try. Try to watch it back objectively but with a critical eye. If you were watching this at the cinema what would you take away from it? Then ask yourself which parts worked, which parts didn’t and what can you improve one next time?
#2 Read Quality Acting Books
Now when it comes to acting books there’s a lot of fluff out there. But amongst the noise are some truly brilliant books. Make your way through as many of these books as you see fit. They’ll all offer different perspectives, and from time to time will downright contradict one another. What matters is that you give them a try and take the parts you find useful to become the best actor you can be and deliver a quality performance when you next work on a monologue! Here are some of StageMilk’s favourite acting books to get you started:
- A Challenge for the Actor – Uta Hagen
- The Intent to Live – Larry Moss
- The Power of the Actor – Ivana Chubbuck
- The Complete Stanislavsky Toolkit – Bella Merlin
- No Acting Please – Eric Morris
This is just a small number of the wealth of good acting knowledge to be found on bookshelves around the world. For more of our favourites click here!
#3 Watch Quality Films (And Maybe Some Bad Ones)
Ah, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Watching different kinds of films and paying attention to what makes them work or not can be a really helpful way for you to work on your acting. Not only because you’ll see what makes a good or a bad performance. But, also because you’ll gain a better understanding of storytelling as a whole. So throw on some classics, or maybe even some lesser known indie gems and get watching! You’ll be surprised just how much you can learn just by watching with intention.
#4 Go to the Theatre
So this one is a bit of a funny one as you may or may not be anywhere near a theatre, nor have the money to attend one. But with that in mind, most small towns will have some sort of local theatre or at least one that’s within a reasonable distance from you. And when it comes to financing it, just give them a call! A lot of smaller theatres are usually pretty affordable and some might even do deals for certain demographics, or on certain nights. With all that being said, it’s a great idea to go and see actors in action to gain an understanding of what good, or bad acting looks like live and in person. Maybe even if you’re feeling brave enough you could ask to audition, as we stated above the best way to learn is to keep doing it! So give it a go! You might be surprised how it goes.
#5 Watch and Listen to Interviews
There is a wealth of knowledge to be found on YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts. Countless hours of actors discussing their journey and their craft can be at your fingertips. If you don’t have access to smart devices or a personal computer, don’t worry! Your local library should have a computer you can use to watch and listen to some incredible actors break down their process.
Bonus Tip – Join StageMilk
Shameless self plug time! As I said above, ultimately you probably won’t be able to teach yourself acting mastery, and teaching yourself should really act as a stepping stone on your journey to becoming an actor. When that time comes, and you feel you’re ready you can come and join us over at StageMilk Drama Club. One of the benefits of StageMilk is that you can join in from anywhere in the world so long as you have three things. A computer, an internet connection, and a camera/camera phone. In the Drama Club we work on a scene each month, provide feedback on your acting, and offer classes in acting, industry, voice and more throughout each month. One of the best parts is we have a thriving community of actors who are some of the most generous, kind and brave people you can meet! If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, follow the link above.
So as I said above, teaching yourself acting can be a great first step on the long journey to becoming an actor. Eventually you’ll have to put yourself out there, but in the meantime, you can use these five tips to teach yourself acting! So have a play, see what works for you, and enjoy!