Monday, August 31, 2009

A New WeeK

Well, it is a new week, but I get the same old questions for the most part. That just shows the universality of the desire of humans to act. And, I am afraid, it shows that a great many people really have no conception of what it means to be an actor. I am trying to clear that up for people on this blog. To cut through the daydreams to the reality of things. It is not always easy, and I know it upsets many people. I encourage anyone who stumbles into this blog to find out about acting to continue to visit and to learn. God bless, and good night, Doc

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Some Thoughts on Monologues

First, there is another thing that I don't understand. Why do people constantly want to have someone tell them what monologue to do for an audition? Having to come up with monologues for auditions is basic to the business of being an actor. Besides it is not so simple to pick exactly the right monologue for an actor. It has to fit them perfectly or it is not going to do them much good. I cover this in my book.\

Second. What is this with every little amateur theatre wanting monologues for their play and musical auditions? Did some Great Authority somewhere say "Thou must use monologues to do your casting." Well, maybe for membership into a company or for a season of shows, but for the Jr. Class Play or the All School Musical? What a waste of time! Don't you still have to have call backs to read from the script? Why not just start with the reading from the script and skip the callbacks? Unless you are weeding out the weak from hundreds of wannabe cast members, this has got to be the dumb idea of the decade.

Third. All you ill-prepared acting teachers out there stop assigning people in your acting class to write their own monologues! They are there to learn about acting, not to lean how to be playwrights. Playwriting is such a special art that it needs to be left to those who thoroughly understand it and have the theatre background to give it a try. But most acting is done from scripts that playwrights wrote, so supply your students with those. And don't just tell them to go find a monologue. Prepare for your teaching by getting a bunch of them together so you can hand them out. The exception to this would be a class that has only experienced actors in it who will know where to find monologues. All monologues for classes and for auditions should always be from published plays. Never original monologues or those from a book of monologues that are not from plays. Because of item four below>

Fourth. A monologue is just a long speech from a play and therefore can be approached like any other speech:
It is the character's reaction to the stimuli of the situation he or she is in. It contains both the physical and the emotional response to those stimuli. (An original monologue or a monologue that is not from a play is liable not to have those qualites with which a playwright infuses his speeches.) So actors, when you do your monologue, remember this simple advice. The words represent the character's emotional and physical responses at that particular moment of the play. Express those responses using the playwright's words and you will be fine. Just act the speech, okay?

Well, enough already. God bless, Doc

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Acting is my passion....."

Well, whoop de do! I wish I had a nickle for everyone who ever told me that acting was their passion or their life or their undying dream. I'd be very very wealthy. I have taught acting and been in and around the acting business for over 50 years, and I can honestly say that not one of those people who told me any of those things ever became a professional actor or actress. The reason for that is that loving acting, being passionate about it or any of those kinds of comments have absolutely nothing to do with becoming an successful actor.
What it takes is knowing how the business of acting works and having the drive and ability to do what works, while at the same time being an outstanding talent. Well, even the talent thing plays second fiddle to the operating the business thing. I see people advising young aspiring actors to go to college or to attend a good drama school (most of the examples they give are the old standard schools that teach worn out and out of date approaches to acting such as The Method). I happen to believe that experience trumps training because you cannot taught to be talented. You have to be born an actor. And even if you do all the right things and have all the right qualities and quanties of abilities and talent, you still might not become an actor. So luck trumps everything! The best an aspiring actor can do is to have prepared properly so if luck comes calling you can answer. I am holding back on a story about a young lady in NYC whom I have advised and how she got her agent through a chance encounter on the elevator at work! Stay tuned.

Friday, August 28, 2009

First, it is a buisness.

Well, again this morning, I got a few of those emails from people with no experience who have decided that they want to be actors. They are of all ages from preteen to thirty something and beyond. None of them seem to have any idea that professional acting is first and foremost a business. You know, show business?
You don't start a business without something to sell and a plan to market it. Acting is no different than any other business, except the market is 'way over staturated. It takes financial investment, tools and equipment and preparation to succeed. Most of those who write me seem to think it is a magic land where all one has to do is show up at an audition (if they can find one) and say, "Here I am, you lucky people." But, of course, it doesn't work that way. Begining actors, the ones who have all the financial backing, tools, equipment and preparation, mostly will be auditioning, along with a great many other actors, for very small roles in professional films. Being a business, the producers have cast all the major roles with actors who will help them make money with the film. They aren't about to risk the millions it takes to make a movie on inexperienced beginners. It's a business. Broadway works quite the same way. A few small roles or chorus spots may be open to beginners. Of course there are exceptions, but the thing to remember is that you are not the person who is the exception, nor are you likely to be. If you are to succeed as a professional actor, you are going to have to work at the business for many many years first. The business. Those who are unaware of that, dream of being artists working in a nobel craft to better the world. Yeah, right! Sorry, Charlie, but you can become an artist later, once you are an actor. It is becoming an actor that is so difficult. Most people fail at it because they do not know it is a business and do not approach it as one. That is the real secret of success in acting. Not talent,nor training, but being a smart business person. So find out how the business works and how one can get into it as described in my free ebook, The Tao of Acting, available by writing me at

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Where to, What Next?

These questions plague the aspiring actor. Whether he or she has just decided that acting is what they want to do or whether her or she has just graduated from college or conservatory, what to do next is the main quesition. Of course if schools did a decent job of educating aspiring actors, they would know what to do when they graduated. But too often, the schools don't do that. Let's start with the beginner. For this person, the answer to Where to is nowhere if you have access to school or community theatre. And the Answer to What Next is to get some acting roles in plays on your resume. This could take a while, even years, so don't get in a rush to become the next star. First you have to have some evidence that you can act. That would be your resume. And the roles on it had better be good ones that demonstrate that you have extra ordinary talent. If they don't, then you might as well consider acting as a hobby or recreation in community theatres.
If you are just out of high school with a good resume, then off you go to seek your fortune as an actor. Unless, of course, you are too immature to support yourself and have to rely on your parents and do their bidding and go to college to learn a sensible trade. How to obey them and stll pursue acting is covered in my book, The Tao of Acting, free e-version is available at That also will help you build your resume a bit. Finally if you are one of the people whom education has failed, you need to read The Tao of Acting to fill in the blanks. Now let's see. Where to? What Next? Simple. Where the action is, and not LA nor NYC necessarily. And what next, start getting your tools together to run the business of being an actor.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Facing a Decision

I recently got all excited about becoming a voice actor. The start up costs are low enough, under $600 to begin. It doesn't look too hard to start. A friend in the UK will get me a bargin on the equipment and free casting service for three months. So why don't I leap at the chance?
1. I don't need any more money. 2. I am basically lazy and feel I have enough to do, although I could fit in. 3. I have decided I can better serve those aspiring to an acting career by not getting involved in anything new. Now am I correct? There are still going to be times when I have nothing to do and could use the time more wisely. Should I go back and get involved? Hmm. I will continue to think about it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Now What?

I often get questions from people who have just graduated from college with a theatre or acting degree or who have just finished a program at a professional training academy. They ask me "Now what do I do?" It is the exact same question I asked when I graduated from college with a theatre degree. I also get these questions from people who have gone to NYC or LA and have tried to get an agent via mass mailings and who are trying to find auditions but coming up short. Upon analysis of the vast majority of these enquiries, I find that these people are generally unprepared to attempt to become actors. First, the college and academy graduates have unceremoniously been booted out the door without ever understanding that they have spent from two to four years supporting the institutions but the nstitutions have not really been interested in supporting their desire to become actors. If they had done so, these people would know what to do next. What has happened? The schools have not taught them how the acting business works, how to get an agent, and how to find work. Then this may be compounded by the aspiring actors not having enough acting experience. Thus they have not built a strong enough resume to suggest they are talented enough to attract an agent or casting director's attention. Experience, including acting in non professional theatre, is far more important than training. Since actors are born and not made, they do not need a lot of training. Talent cannot be taught. If someone is not gifted with extraordinary talent at birth, no amount of classes will give them talent. A well informed aspiring actor knows that classes are used for networking more than for getting ready to be an actor. They know that acting is a business and they approach it in a businesslike fashion. It is helpful to have a class or workshop from a well respected acting teacher on one's resume, but it is not necessary to complete a two or three year program with them. So now what do these aspiring actors do? They find out how they should proceed in their quest to become actors and they make a plan and follow it. Such a plan is described in my book "The Tao of Acting, Mentoring for Aspiring Actors" which is free for the asking at my email,

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Why Is It So Hard to Become and Actor?

The question of difficulty in achieving success in the profession of acting is only sometimes addressed by those who write me seeking information about becoming an actor. Too often very young, very inexperienced people seem to believe that all they have to do is either find an audition or get an agent. They don't realize that doing either of those things is extremely difficult and that is part of the problem. The real reason why it is difficult for those under 18 is that they often do not have the active support of their parents. By active support I do not mean lip service, "Oh, that's nice, dear." Rather, I mean that one or both of their parents are actively doing the work of making their offspring an actor or actress. This the kid cannot do on his or her own. Labor laws require that one be 18 or older to sign a contract, and that a parent must attend auditions and work with the child until the child becomes 18. That makes it pretty tough on all those teeny boppers who want to be Disney stars and who haven't even told their parents about it. But it is equally difficult for an adult to become an actor. First of all anyone of any age that wants to be an actor needs a resume of acting experience in plays which demonstrates that they have talent. It takes years to develop such a resume and those who have begun in high school are ahead of the game. Second, the aspiring actor needs to approach his goal in a business like fashion. Acting is first and foremost a business. Like all businesses it takes monetary investment to get it started and cash flow to keep it going. There are some pretty good books on the subject including "Acting as a Business" by Brian O'Neil and "The Tao of Acting" by yours truly. To succeed one needs to learn how the business works.. And that leads us to the Third point. Misinformation about what it takes to succeed as an actor is widespread. An aspiring actor often latches on to this erroneous thinking and never makes it. Fourth, there just are not very many jobs in relationship to the number of people seeking to become actors. Every year, more than ten thousand graduates of colleges and conservatories pour into the throng of those seeking employment as actors. Thus there are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of aspiring actors who will never, ever get even extra work or a one-line role. Most of the newly created jobs go to experienced and well known actors,leaving very little for the horde of remaining would-be actors. And that leads me to the Fifth and final point, the few jobs that remain are going to go to the most talented, best prepared, most attractive (for whatever reason,not always good looks) and luckiest applicants,

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What on earth are they thinking about?

I got another email today from a young man twenty years old who, without ever having been in so much as a school play, has decided he wants to become an actor. I cannot help becoming a little frustrated with such people. They certainly don't think they could become a surgeon without studying medicine and getting some expereince as an intern. You cannot even become a 7-11 clerk without instruction on how to do it. I think they expect me to be able to give them instruction on how to become an actor in one simple email and magically they will be on TV, the hero of all their friends. Such people are much the same as the teeny bopper of 13 or 14 who writes me and declares that they just have to become an actress, that they have wanted to do so for years and years, and that they know they are very talented. Of course they have no acting expereince either and are living in some Cloudcuckooland of reverie in which they are great stars with throngs of adoring fans. In a way you cannot blame the youngsters as they have been seduced by the TV and cinema in to thinking that the wonderful things they see on the screen are really happening to the actors and that it would be so romantic and thrilling to have those things happen to them. Unfortuantely, what they see on the TV and cinema screens are not what is really happening to the actors. It is an illusion created by editing, sound and special effects. Film acting is really not at all glamorous and is quite tedious. The actors must get up before sunrise, be at costumes and make up by seven am and report to the set as soon as they can only to wait for hours while the crew gets everything ready. When that finally happens, the actors rehearse their scene, then they wait again while the camera and lighting adjustments are made, and then they do their scene for the camera, over and over again until the director is satisfied with the coverage and quality of the scene. Then the process is repeated until the end of the shooting day. I once had to wait for over two entire days before they got to my scene, and while I enjoyed talking with the stars and I got paid extra for each day, it emphasized the loneliness and tedium of being on location for a film. I am sure this is a great contributor to the wide spread substance abuse and infidelity among film actors. It takes a strong moral character to withstand such difficult situations, especially with so many temptations surrounding a person. Discretion and valour are certainly needed to withstand them. But the aspiring actor almost never thinks of the reality of the work, they only think of the fantasy of the glamour and adoration of their fans. Wake up people. Go outside and play or do some chores or go on a picnic and embrace the wonder of life as it really is.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Things that may take a while

1. Finding my blog with ease.

2. Becoming an actor or actress.

3. Reaching financial indelendence.

4. Saving our country from the Socialist Revolution.

5. Learning to react fully and without inhibition as an actor.

Here I am to save the day, Theatre Doc is on the way!

Hello world. I have started this blog to record my latest observations about acting and having a career on acting. If you have never contacted me before at Yahoo Answers or All Experts, I usually ask that people contact me at my regular email, and give me their acting background before asking their questions. I am sure that from time to time I will answer the most common questions I get here on this blog. But we will see what the daily posts bring. Any way, welcome to my thoughts and God bless. Doc