If you’ve been in LA for more than approximately 4 minutes, you have, I’m sure, had an acting class recommended to you. And everyone thinks their acting class is the best. And if you google acting classes you’ll get about 482,957,231 results…all claiming to be the ‘ONLY ACTING CLASS YOU SHOULD BE TAKING IF YOU WANT TO BE A WORKING ACTOR.’ Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great acting teachers out there. But ALSO don’t get me wrong about the fact that there are some washed up child actors trying to fund their decade long coke addiction and hang on to their fading fame by charging you $450 a month so they can hear themselves talk and relive the glory days all under the guise of ‘educating’ you. Don’t spend your hard earned tips on those classes. But let’s focus on the not scammy ones.
When I first moved here, because of my conservatory-like theatre background, I gravitated towards scene study classes. But as I began to be more involved in the business and started to go on more auditions, I realized that very few of those scene study skills were being used on day-to day auditions. When an audition came along, I didn’t have 3 separate rehearsals with an equally invested scene partner before presenting a polished 4 page scene. I rarely had more than 24 hours to prepare and certainly wasn’t going to get to read through it with the person that I’d be reading with in the audition.
What was most likely happening was that I had 12 hours to prepare 1 or 2 lines. Then I’d sit in traffic on my lunch break from my day job, while doing my makeup in the car, only to sit in a waiting room with other actors who are hoping against hope that I get sudden onset food poisoning (and to be fair, I, too, them). Once my name is called, I walk into a room to read my 1 or 2 lines with a casting associate who just wants to be on THEIR lunch break and has just had to read the same lines with 20 other actors like myself, all of whom are searching her face for any inkling of a clue that their read was ‘the one,’ only to read through my lines in a way that doesn’t betray the fact that copious amounts of adrenaline are coursing through my veins. Inevitably, the read is anti-climactic and 9/10 times, I’m dismissed with an exhausted ‘thank you.’ That is hardly the scenario I was training for in my scene study intensive…
So why wasn’t I training for the more likely scenario: a mostly cold read where my job was only to instantaneously set myself apart enough to BOOK THE JOB?
That’s why I signed up with Melissa Skoff. Now this isn’t an ad for Melissa (though she’s great and I highly recommend her classes). But it is to say that I think it’s important to really look at what skills you are cultivating every week. Yes, every actor worth her salt should be able to study a scene and develop a character and chemistry with their scene partner… but you’re not going to be doing that as often as you’re going to have to look at a scene, make a strong f#@king choice right then and GO! I want to trust myself in an audition and know that even though I haven’t had as much time with this material and the circumstances surrounding this read aren’t always going to be ideal performance scenarios, the choices I make are going to set this cold read on fire! I want to make sure that when I go to the gym I’m working the right muscles. Soapbox dismounted.