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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Acting Classes, Part Deux--The Los Angeles Chapter

Last week I announced that I would be starting online acting classes, which I am thrilled about offering. I'm going to be talking a little more in depth about those classes later on in this post.

But for the moment, I want to talk about the in-person classes I'm teaching in L.A.

These are not your run-of-the-mill scene study classes. Will there be scene study? Of course! Technique and craft are hugely important. They're also not the only part of creating a successful acting career.

My approach, the Acting without the Drama approach, takes a much more holistic view of acting. A working actor has many things to pay attention to beyond just rehearsing and performing one scene over and over again.

We will be studying the nuts and bolts of acting so that our performances are connected, active, specific and compelling.

We will be working on-camera, to understand the ins and outs of how to translate our performances to television and film.

We will be working with sides, mimicking the audition experience, in order to understand the pressure involved in making decisions "on the fly".

Additionally, we will be discussing the business. What are the strategies we can employ to "get ourselves out there" and create the career we seek? What is our "brand"? How do we promote ourselves without becoming used car salespeople or neglecting our art?

Finally, we will discuss who we are and what's important to us. I will never dictate to anyone what their standards should be. I will encourage everyone to discover what their own personal core values are and to STICK TO THEM!

Obviously, there are challenges to teaching classes online that won't be present for the in-person classes. I incorporate a lot of physicality into my teaching that's difficult online. Alexander technique exercises, experimenting with movement and just the energy of being present in the same room are all elements of my teaching that are harder online.

With that said, I want to talk a bit more about the online classes and workshops. The very challenges that make online acting classes less than ideal are the exact things that will provide us with amazing opportunities as actors!

First (and most obviously), anyone that's in an area where they are unable to find good acting classes (or any acting classes) will now be able to take them from their home. That's huge!

Interestingly enough, the things that appear to be the biggest problems of online acting classes are some of what makes it incredibly exciting!

Let's address those "less than perfect" parts of online acting classes.

1) We're acting through a camera, so it's not as personal.

Stop for a moment. That's pretty much film and television in a nutshell, isn't it? That is EXACTLY what we're facing if we want to act in front of the camera. And the fact that we HAVE to act through a camera is one of the greatest strengths of this class.

We're learning on-camera technique while we're studying the craft. There's no need to bring in a camera. It's already there!

2) The technical aspects of online classes can be distracting, so it's harder to connect.

Okay, yes. But think about being on a film set. Your environment is clearly less than perfect for connection to happen. You're surrounded by crew. Many times your fellow actor is not anywhere around when you're filming your close-ups. You're shooting your scenes out of sequence.

In other words, we need to learn how to "bring it" in circumstances that work against connection.

3) We don't have the same freedom of movement that we would in-person.

Clearly. Guess what? That pretty much mimics what occurs when we're filming medium or close-up shots on film. We need to learn to involve our entire bodies, even when we don't have the freedom to prance around!

4) Rehearsal with a scene partner will be harder.

Sure. Although I'm guessing that finding time for you and your scene partner to get on Skype together in the comfort of your home will be much easier than finding time and space to do so in L.A.

Additionally, rehearsal time for film and television is minimal at best. Learning how to bring our performances fully without lots of rehearsal time is part of the process. We will work with both--working on scenes with mandated rehearsal time and also doing cold-reading exercises.

Finally, I'm excited enough by the amazing potential of these online classes that I will be recommending even to my L.A. actors that they take online workshops at times.

Please leave me your thoughts, questions and opinions here for me. Out of those that comment on this week's and last week's blog, I will select one person for a free 1/2 hr. private online session, so get them up!! I will also be offering a free 1/2 hr. intro group class. If you are interested, please DM me your name and email address if you're on Twitter (@actingnodrama) or email me at actingwithoutthedrama (at) gmail (dot) com.

Don't delay! There's acting to be done!!


  1. Ooh, pick me! Living in Austin, looking at LA, an online class sounds like a great thing.

  2. That's an excellent point you bring up with acting online for a can being like the film experience.

  3. Enterprising and unique. I'm sure some folks will think "not effective" or "can't be done"...but consider most good ideas start out sounding a little odd because it's not what we're used to. There are probably as many draw backs to in-person scene study live-classes as there are this idea. If it's professional, well thought out, detailed and open (meaning open lines of communication, not just one-way), then it could work wonders! My compliments on a great idea and a smooth way of promoting it! @actLA

  4. This is definitely an intriguing concept, and I'm curious as to how it will pan out. I think it sounds like a great idea, and especially for actors/actresses who live in places where good classes are not available, but also for those of us in LA who want classes but don't want to go to a studio - another way to learn the craft. Love it! Would the class members be able to interact with you? A live session, remotely? Or would it be more of a system where you post new classes each week, provide them with homework and then they would submit their video scenes and you would provide feedback?

    Anyway, good blog! I'll visit again. And maybe I'll even win that 1/2 session with you ;)
    Talk to you on Twitter @victoriadrake

  5. I'm still working on finding my core values as an actor; for me, it's the hardest part because it's that necessary link between one's being and one's character, however much the two may be separated. And I wonder whether over the course of a career those core values can and/or should change. Is it a learning process that plays out over one's life? Adding on how that will play out in the marketplace makes my head spin and is, I think, one of my biggest challenges because of the doubt it creates in my mind.

    So far, I've managed to come around to one value that, I hope, will be a solid foundation: to use the best talents of my being to encourage an audience to reflect and grow, just as I hope my work will do for me.

  6. Greetings from Sweden! :)

    I just wanted to warmly thank you for your podcast, it´s brilliant! I have recently been bitten by the acting-bug and now I want to gain more insight to the craft. I have landed a leading part in a play (amateur theatre ) and your podcast has been of enormous help already. Your pointers have really opened up a new dimension for me, and I´m so looking forward to learning more!

    You´re a great teacher even online; easy to follow and plenty of examples. Structured, well spoken. I could continue!

    Keep up the good work!!!

  7. All of your points are valid and, more importantly, very good points. I really think this is a great thing to do. I don't see why an actor/tress couldn't benefit from this class unless they are closed to doing so.
    In my recent film experience, I've had to rehearse via skype and for me, it was as if I were on set shooting. It was actually a great experience for me. I see success here.
    Monique Dupree

  8. Okay, guys, the winner of the second 1/2 hour free online coaching session is...FABIO!! Email me at actingwithoutthedrama (at) gmail (dot) com to set up your class! There's one more opportunity to win a free class. Go and comment on the next blog (that has the class schedules listed). I will be picking tonight!