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Ways To Learn About Acting

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 18 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Ways To Learn About Acting

Becoming a more proficient and confident actor, director, costumer or other theatre-based hobbyist (or professional) requires a high degree of self-motivation. Though you'll certainly have hands-on opportunities to learn some common aspects of your chosen craft, you will need to begin seeking out resources to assist you in becoming the best actor/director/et cetera that you can be.

Because every person is unique, so too is his or her journey to better understand the theatre as well as where he or she fits within it. Following are some ideas to start you on your personal path to betterment, but we urge you to seek out other possibilities as well.

Books About Acting

Reading is an excellent way to find out about the theatre, especially if you're new to acting.

Any of Constantin Stanislavski's works are terrific starting points, as he was long considered a 'master' of American performing arts. Of course, not everyone finds his acting technique to be helpful, which is a good reason for you to explore as many books as possible so you can make up your own mind about what will and will not work for you.

As you begin delving into books such as 'An Actor Prepares' (Stanislavski), 'A Dream of Passion: The Development of the Method' (Lee Strasberg) and 'Respect for Acting' (Uta Hagen and Haskel Frankel), you'll no doubt see that theatre folks can have incredibly different ways of teaching acting and growing, and the acting lessons they contain can be important. Truly, dramatics is a varied 'sport', and one that includes many ways to get to the finished product.

Learning About Acting From Movies/TV Shows

What types of movies or television shows do you currently gravitate toward? Depending upon your answer, you may need to explore acting outside of your comfort zone.

Try watching some 'classic' cinema, for example. Works like 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' and 'Citizen Kane' may not seem as immediately 'entertaining' by today's standards, but they'll give you a strong understanding of different styles of directing and ways of interpreting a script - all valuable acting lessons. Soon, you'll find yourself turning to classics every time you rent a film.

As far as television is concerned, why not try to watch a few documentaries in which re-enactors pretend to be historical figures? Typically, those actors conduct a great deal of research to 'act the part'; similarly, behind-the-scenes workers (including the script writers) commit tremendous amounts of energy into ensuring the validity of the programme.

Learning About Acting From Plays

Of course, you should also commit to reading theatre plays on a regular basis if you're serious about learning more about acting.

Even if you're not interested in acting in a production of Brecht's 'Galileo' or Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar', just familiarising yourself with those renowned works of art will help you as a budding actor.

Similarly, it's critical for you to seek out opportunities to read unknown pieces as well as more popular ones. There might even be someone in your amateur dramatics society circle who is working on a new play and would like feedback—what an amazing chance for you to discover a new hit for your troupe to produce!

Acting Lessons From Live Performances

Nothing will improve your ability to contribute to your acting troupe as much as going to live theatre productions. Even if these only consist of simple plays conducted by your children at secondary school or in church, they can give you important acting lessons a wealth of information on what to do as an actor… as well as what not to do!

In time, you'll find yourself sitting in the audience and automatically absorbing everything you're seeing, so you can use your new found knowledge in your next performance!

Websites About Acting

Obviously, THIS website will give you a whole host of tips and titbits, but you don't have to stop at this page. You can also conduct internet searches on your favourite actors, screenwriters and directors. By becoming part of an online community of amateur dramatics society members, you'll gain insights into how to stage even the most 'impossible' play or costume a period piece on a shoestring budget.

Remember, though, that you get what you give. If you decide to become a member on a theatre-based message board or forum, make sure you contribute your thoughts, questions and opinions on a regular basis! Though it can be fun to 'invisibly' watch and listen, to really become more skilled in acting, you'll need to make your voice heard.

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