A lot of times, especially here in Prague, it’s easy to get lazy about working on your art. You may attend an acting class, you may sit down and watch a movie, but often the question of “What are you doing to support your art?” goes unanswered.
Here are some things that you can do to augment your active attendance of class or rehearsals in a play to support your acting habit:
- Reading. Especially today, reading often gets overlooked. Reading for pleasure is one thing, but actively choosing books (autobiographies, histories, technique books, etc) which point the way other people have solved the problem of acting can do wonders to help you overcome your current position. Remember to read actively: put yourself in the situation, think about what you would do if you were faced with the same problem or opportunity. How did the writers choice different from yours and how did it turn out for them. Try writing a short book report about what you read. Writing (see later) often helps to codify your thoughts and impressions.
- Watching People. Actors are creatures of behavior. We eat it up, live it and breathe it. Actively watch your surroundings: how are the people around you treating each other? Put yourself in their shoes. What would you do in their shoes, what would make you feel the way that they are behaving? What is their story that could bring them to this point? Make it up, have fun with it. But turn yourself on to the world around you and welcome the differences between people. You never know when you will need to call upon a behavior or situation that you witnessed! Again, write it down! Codify it!
- Watching Films. When you do watch a film or other video, watch critically. Watch the editing and the angles. Watch the camera movements. Why did the director choose to be in a closeup there? Why did the scene end with that moment and move to that next scene instead of another one? What are the actors doing? Are they listening to each other and responding or are they just going through the motions. Can you see them acting or does it feel real to you?
- Building Your Network. This is a topic that deserves it’s own post. The business of acting is nothing if not having a strong network, not only of casting directors and people who can give you work, but actors, crew members, back office people, drivers, etc. There is a fantastic podcast called Manager Tools and their advice on building your network is absolutely golden!
- Listen. Listening to interviews with artists and people in the business of acting provides an amazing array of information. My favorite places to get interviews is through podcasting (an audio show that updates on a regular basis that a podcasting app downloads to your phone or computer). Some of the best interview podcasts are: Industry Standard with Barry Katz, WTF with Marc Maron, Nerdist Writers Panel, and Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show. Good podcasts for show business news are The Business and The Spin-off.
Again, with all of these things: do them critically and actively. If you’re just going through the motions, then you won’t get a lot out of them…