Monday, October 10, 2011
The Pros and Cons of Studying From a Working Actor
Deciding which teacher to study with can be daunting. Some actors try to narrow their search by saying things like "I want to study with a female acting teacher" or "I want to study with someone who teaches this specific method." But should whether or not a teacher is a working actor affect your decision to study with him or her?
The Advantages of Studying With Teachers Who Act
The obvious advantage to studying with teachers who are working actors is that they understand today's challenges. They know what you are going through with your agent, manager, auditions, callbacks, and bookings. They can share with you things that have happened to them in the audition room, on set, or onstage.
Teachers who are working actors can give you real-world examples of how what they teach can apply and why what they're teaching is applicable to you as an actor. Actor Stephen Tobolowsky ("Groundhog Day," "Heroes," "Glee"), who teaches at Kalmenson & Kalmenson Voice Casting in Burbank, Calif., says he shares with his improv students how he had to use improvisation in auditions and on set that week. Rather than teaching a traditional improv class, "I teach a class on the way improvisation is encountered when you actually work," he says.
Solely because someone is a good actor doesn't mean he or she is a good teacher. Many actors are instinctive about what they do and don't know how to teach it. According to teacher William Esper of The William Esper Studio in New York, legendary actor Alfred Lunt couldn't communicate to someone else how to act. He would only say, "Do it this way," and then he'd act it out for them. "You have to be able to communicate what you know," says Esper.
If you decide to take classes with working actors, make sure you haven't just chosen them solely because they work. They need to be able to communicate their process to you. "I can explain in different ways to different members of my class, so they'll understand it, what it is that I do and how they can utilize it," says Tobolowsky. "That's what makes a good teacher from someone who works a lot."
Read more at http://www.backstage.com/bso/news-and-features-features/the-pros-and-cons-of-studying-from-a-working-1005382052.story