(This is part two in Risa Bramon García’s series on training)
The only excuse for not coming to a class or a performance is death. – Stella Adler
Class is hardly a luxury or an indulgence. It’s not for weak actors, or untalented ones. It’s certainly not only for actors who are untrained. Dancers, athletes, musicians, and yogis practice and work out on a daily basis. They couldn’t perform without it. How can you compete if your instrument’s out of tune?
Here are eight reasons why training as an actor is imperative.
- You’re an athlete. Work out. Stay in shape. Exercise your actor muscles. Tune your instrument. Do the work every day in some way.
- Challenge yourself. If you’re not challenged as an artist, you’re not engaged. Stir it up. Take risks. Experiment. Get in there. Get dirty. Get activated. Lose yourself in the work.
- Find a community. A place where the work you care about is honored and you’re among like-minded artists. Create relationships with teachers and fellow actors. Find a theater company and do plays. Create your tribe. (And it’s not so bad for your social life either.)
- Keep your mind, body, and soul activated. As an actor, you need to have your entire being stirred, have full access to your humanity, on all levels. You’ll be fully alive. As Elia Kazan said, “A great deal of patience is required, and a rigorous maintenance of your mind and your body.”
- Have something to do. Put something specific, something good, on your schedule. Have a place to go. A purpose. Get out of the house, off the computer, the video game, the TV. Break the routine.
- Combat the demons. Push yourself. Meet your fears and anxieties. All the energy you put into the negative talk can be used for good instead of evil. It will clear your head, fill your heart, and free up the energy you need.
- Create access. If you’re in concert with other actors, teachers, you’ll open doors to connect with the industry. It may not seem obvious right away, but it will unquestionably be productive. Connect craft with your career. The constructive energy you put into fine-tuning yourself will attract the most amazing people to you.
- Be a student. Observe life. Study human behavior, what motivates us, stirs us, and moves us. Exercise that. Work on your craft. Every day. Honor your artistry.
When it comes to staying tuned: If you rest, you rust. – Helen Hayes