Friday, April 4, 2014

How many classes should I take?

Hi to all my fellow actors

A few days ago I received an interesting question from Alexander.

Dear Michael,

There are so many places offering weekly acting classes, would I be best going to as many of these as possible or just one a week?

Hi Alexander,

I'll give you the short answer first. You should probably attend no more than two classes a week. It takes a little time to fully process what we learn in a (good) class, and do a bit of work on it on our own. That also means, if possible, the classes shouldn't be back-to-back (leave a couple of days in-between).

Now, I'll go into a little more detail on the whole "class" subject.

Many classes offer a chance to audit them before signing up. You should check those out and get a feel for whether the teacher is going to inspire and move you forward.

A worthwhile class is all about the teacher. A good teacher needs to be caring and supportive, but also able to push you without being abusive. If you see any signs of abusive behavior on the part of a teacher, get the hell out of there! Unfortunately, there are some teachers who, either because they are frustrated actors, or are control freaks, get abusive.

But guess what? You also don't want a teacher who is too nice! A teacher who tells every actor that they are great or that their scene, or improv, was excellent is usually just someone who wants as may students as possible in class in order to make his or her living from the money the actors pay for the class. Or else he doesn't know anything, so compliments are all he's got to give. His students stay because some people just want to hear that they're "great" and don't care about growing as an actor.

I had a teacher like that for a short time - even when I knew my improv scene sucked, he would say "Great! That was great!" You can imagine that I didn't learn anything from him, and certainly didn't grow as a performer. I left after a few weeks.

When a teacher knows what he's doing, he will know when to be supportive with encouraging words, and when we need a push in order to grow.

Finally, as to what classes to look into. I am a huge advocate of having one of the classes be an improv class. I won't go into all the reasons why in this post, because I wrote a post recently on the importance of improv - see my post for February 28th, 2014, "Should I learn improvisation?" But if you are taking a couple of classes a week, one should definitely be an improv class - doesn't matter that much if it's a comedy or dramatic improv class.

If you are a beginning actor, you should stay away from "How to Audition" or "Book a Job in Six Weeks!" type of classes. I would even advise not starting with a scene study class, but to get in a class that covers the fundamentals first.



No comments:

Post a Comment

Please share a question or comment.