The Good News Is: I Can’t Help You.
Take my class and call me in the morning…
You feel sick, you call a doctor, you get a pill. You are “cured.”
You want to act, you sign up with an acting class guru, you learn “the trick” of acting. You are an “actor.”
Here’s the naive expectation: You sign up for an acting class with your guru of choice, you plunk down your Benjamins, the guru shows you a few “tricks” to doing this right, and you emerge from your three to four hour intensive (or five nights of three to four hours) transformed and ready to Do It Professionally. Quick and easy. Done.
That’s not really how it plays out.
This false expectation of an aspiring actor signing up for an acting class resembles the misplaced expectations of a sick patient making a doctor’s appointment, expecting that magic pill. Many “afflicted” with the acting bug seek remedy through some “silver bullet” class. “Take this, and you’re cured.”
Most are looking for this quick fix to their longing for employment and success. There’s an industry founded on this concept and too many patients follow along with it compliantly.
Western medicine is good at dealing with bone breaks and infections- acute problems quickly solved. But most of what ails people is chronic in nature but they often receive bandaids and analgesics rather than a cure. You go to a doctor to treat symptoms, mostly. It’s often not the intent to address the complex underlying variables that cause most diseases, which are chronic and establish over time. The western medical system isn’t designed for this or often very good at it.
An introduction class? Sure. A way for more advanced actors to excavate and polish their skills, get on their feet and workout with support and insight? Great.
But this is for the beginning and later part of an actor’s exploration and expansion of their craft. The long middle part of learning to act, learning to improv, listen and collaborate and work in front of an audience? A class may supplement this, but it is not a cure.
You’re not going to learn to really be an actor without being on the hook with an honest paying audience in front of you.
This is frankly why I’m reluctant to teach much- I don’t think I can help most people with the substance of what “ails” them. Can I help a bit? Yes. Can I inspire or give a tidbit of good direction? I hope. But mostly, I don’t think I can help with the real heart of the matter- the part the actor themself must develop over time.
You can’t learn acting or improv with a few hours in a studio. It’s like trying to grow a geranium on cement in a few hours time with some sand and some water and a seed. The time scale is wrong, the environment is wrong and the elements are insufficient.
A good teacher can’t help you all that much–which is the good news. I don’t think the teacher is the lynchpin in becoming a successful artist. The student learning their craft is the key mover. The work of learning to act, of drawing that out of you and refining it, is powered by you. It’s your foot on the accelerator, your hand on the wheel. Your guru is not the one steering your ship.
If you view the project of learning to act (or voice act) as a long term process with you in control and powering it, you will have an advantage over most.
A teacher’s help can be a beneficial, even vital, assist. But the ascent of your creative and professional ascent is ultimately powered by you.