Friday, January 27, 2012

Should you go to an expensive acting school?

I don't think it is necessary to go to expensive acting schools to be a successful actor. It is necessary to take a few classes,but not a full two or three year program. And it certainly is not necessary to have an academic degree.

Here are a few different ideas about acting schools. \

1. Most
of them don't care if you ever become an actor, they just want you to enroll
and pay tuition. See item 5 below.

2. There are very few jobs even if you do graduate and are
taught how to find them. I say in the Introduction to my book, The Tao of Acting, that acting schools exist on the lie that there are jobs waiting for their graduates.

3. It is not the school that makes the actor, rather
it is the actor who makes the school. Doesn't matte where you go it you are

4. Thirty to forty thousand dollars a year is outrageous. Why should
it cost so much? Why aren't successful actors teaching aspiring actors for nothing? I do that and I don't make a lot of money. But whatever happened to serving the art?

5. Most of the older schools are just existing on their past
reputations and have become bureaucracies. AADA, Stella Adler, Tisch, etc . fall
into this description. Probably NYCDA as well. SUNY Purchase, I don't know
about. But I do know that actor training and academics is a poor fit.. The point is you can go to WM Esper Studio for half what it costs at
other drama schools, But again if you are talented, you don't need two years of
acting school.

6. Julliard
remains high on the best schools list. But it has transcended the academic model to be effective with actor training.

7. No school can guarantee you work when
you graduate. That depends on you.

8. When picking an acting school. First decide if you are going to get a degree and do not mix academic schools with
conservatories. They are not the same. An actor does not need an academic
degree. Nor does he need to be a graduate of a conservatory. He needs to be

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Musicals and Method Acting

I was recently contacted by a young actor who was researching Curly in Oklahoma!
He wanted to know if I had any suggestions about where he could find out more background about the role because he wanted it to reflect a strong sense of truth and the utmost depth of characterization. I referred him to the script.

Those of you who know my writing, know that I think deeply researching roles in plays beyond what is in the script is only valid for playing historical and real people such as Streep doing Maggie Thatcher or LaPone doing Evita. But researching fictional characters beyond the confines of the script is nonsensical and a waste of time. This is especially true in Oklahoma! and similar musicals.

Oklahoma! is not about the reality of Oklahoma becoming a state. That is just the background for the melodrama involving Curly, the hero; Jud, the villain; and Laurie, the heroine. The play is no deeper than that. Curly is not an authentic cowboy, he does not dress like one, nor act like one. He dresses and acts like a hero in a melodrama. If he were a real cowboy of the time,he would have bad teeth, leathery skin, body odor, and venereal disease.

Curly has no deep psyche or background for what he does. He is a hero. The actor wanted to know how to personalize the role if he didn't do all that research. The answer is that the uniqueness of his physical appearance and voice would do that. Acting is a blending of the role and the actor. The role as presented in the script and the physical and emotional presentation of the role by the actor. What makes an outstanding Curly is magnificent singing and the effective presentation of the hero of the piece.

Yes, many actors do a great deal of analysis and research when playing a role. I happen to believe that most of it is wasted effort and at times detrimental to the show. Method acting just doesn't work for musicals. In fact, nowadays, it doesn't work very well for any sort of acting. Today's actors do not act, they react. They need talent, not technique because technique is artificial. Stanislavsky, Adler, Strasberg, Hagan, etal, contradicted their search for realistic acting by creating techniques including analysis and affective memory which provided artificial backgrounds and responses rather than the reality they sought.