Private Acting Coach
“Act BEFORE you think”! I coach as one of my students is clearly over analyzing and agonizing about what to do on stage. This way of approaching something goes against what we are taught to do in life from the time we are little kids right? But when it comes to performing as an actor it seems to be the biggest snag, or habit, to overcome.
I’ve found that in working with actors, there are several things that come up consistently, whether it’s while working on a specific project or just as an “acting” class. I’ve broken it down into several areas of concentration for private coaching sessions:
- Script Analysis: Essential for all performance work, anything that will be don as far as acting is dependent on solid preparation and learning how to analyze a script. Basic principles for entire script are same for single scene.
- Working with Intentions: pursuance of a specific goal through actions.
- Being Specific and committing to strong Choices (learning what making a choice means may be necessary).
- Living Truthfully- under an Imaginary circumstance: In other words, DON’T “ACT”. And use what we innately do from the time we are toddlers- Pretend, using our Imaginations. Many of the games I like to “play”, are geared toward preparing the actor to get comfortable with this.
- In The Moment: learning to really listen and be present; to embrace what is happening in a scene and act on it. Many students have learned counter-productive habits. And if actors manipulate their actions in a pre-determined way they will usually be forced to discount the truth of the moment. Therefore many “techniques” should be used for preparation not while playing a scene.
- Working With Externals: sometimes it’s necessary for a role an actor is working on to be coached on external things like: posture, voice/speech alterations, physical handicaps, working with costumes and make-up, altered physical states like drunkenness, hot/cold, illness etc.
- Memorization: practicing lines to learn by rote; learning lines without inflection or punctuation; using such games as giving tasks to do while reciting lines also improves line reading etc.
- Rehearsing: Finally, sometimes what an actor really needs is just someone to rehearse with- constructively.
I believe in having students do “homework” or rather to get into the habit of not always having a coach present. I believe in the value of knowledge- I emphasize reading of all kinds (classics ranging from Respect For Acting to A Practical Handbook For The Actor), any research online or by going to the theater/movies. I give handouts to sum up work on any given task we’re focusing on.
And finally, I aim to have FUN. To help my students feel a sense of enjoyment, purpose and maybe even evolution and catharsis as part of the process. It is a gift. I intend to share.