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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Training, Training and More Training

We all know the story.   Young new actor, fresh off the bus, filled to overflowing with good looks, big dreams and possibly even some talent.  And every day, at almost a one-to-one ratio, another not-so-young, no-longer-so-good-looking actor filled with cynicism and maybe a smattering of wisdom gets onto a bus going the opposite direction.  The bus looks identical to the first, but its denizens aren't buzzing with anticipation to get where they want to go.

There's a lot of reasons why actors give up the dream.  I've talked about a lot of them.  Today, I'm specifically focusing on those that come out to Hollywood or the Big Apple to shape the face of the entertainment industry but foolishly forget their scalpel.

I've talked before about how silly it is to imagine that a sculptor could carve a block of marble without someone to first show them the way.  Acting is just as much an act, and yet somehow we look at it as just walking and talking.  Sure there are examples out there of actors who made it without formal acting classes, but let's look at that.

First, the examples are far and few in between.  It's hard enough to make it in the industry.  Do we want to start off by shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot?  We're raising the already considerable odds against us by jumping in with no clue.

Second, many of those examples trained "on the job".  Like Johnny Depp.  Watch him in Nightmare on Elm Street or 21 Jump Street and tell me he didn't learn something before he did Finding Neverland.  Or Kim Basinger.  Seen her as a James Bond girl?  Oooo.  Enough said.  And yet, she found her way into a brilliant performance in LA Confidential.  Learn while you go.  Only one problem.  Once again, please look at the ODDS, people. I'm not denying that there are honest-to-goodness prodigies out there.  But even those prodigies typically train.  Mozart wouldn't have been Mozart if he hadn't been thrust into music at an early age by dear-old-Dad.  Or Tiger Woods, either.

Finally, most actors who are successful without training have brief careers.  Their innate talent can only take them so far.  Remember the Coreys?  Or Casper Van Diem?  Or, or, or....?

So, let's lessen the odds and look towards establishing a life-long career as actors.  To that end, listen to my radio show this week on Thursday at 8 pm PST.  You can set a reminder for yourself here.

And for those that need no convincing, it's time to sign up for my online classes!  Just go to the top of my blog here, fill out the form and click the PayPal tab to pay.  You won't be sorry!  If you have questions about it, or just want more info, email me at actingwithoutthedrama (at) gmail (dot) com.


  1. I'm not trying to be cynical. I love training. I am in University training for acting.

    I fiddle with piano, dance, and singing, and see clearly how constant training and practice are demanded and applied to all these forms.
    But acting?
    I know I can do voice warm ups, work on my resonators, my vowels, my plosives, etc. but practicing and training for acting never felt so technically demanding nor obvious.
    If I don't do my stretches, my ballet form would be hideous. If I don't do scales on the piano, my fingers will feel weak and inactive. If I don't have a singing lesson in a month, I feel the effects when I try to bust out a tune.
    But if I don't practice anything "acting," I don't think I would suffer as much. To me, acting is a lot more abstract, a lot more mental than those other performing art forms I mentioned.
    And trust me, I want to practice. I want to keep training. I hate lazy actors who feel they can do whatever they want.
    But my question is, what is the acting equivalent to, say, scales or barre exercises, or stretches?

  2. This is a great question! In fact, it's important enough, and long enough, that I'm not going to answer it here. I'll be talking about it tonight during my radio show, so go check it out! :)

  3. I LOVE the picture!