What acting classes do you need to become an actor?
Start with theater classes that cover basic acting techniques, scene study and monologues, just to see if you like it. If you want to continue and become an accomplished actor, you need to train your whole instrument with acting courses that cover everything from movement to voice to Shakespeare and screen acting.
Below is a list of all the classes for actors out there, from the “must take” courses you should look for in a good acting school to the classes that are useful to your career and those you’ll want to take later on to stretch yourself even more.
1) “Must Take” Acting Classes
Knowing how to improvise is very important to explore characters, scenes and monologues, not to mention auditions that require improv (like a lot of commercial auditions, for example).
- Acting Technique Class
Some schools teach one technique only, like Method acting or Meisner, others teach several. Whichever way you start, you’ll eventually want to learn about all the acting methods out there, because the best acting technique is the one you custom make for yourself.It’s important that one of your acting classes teach you how to relax and concentrate. This is sometimes taught within an acting technique, like Method acting that involves a lot of relaxation and concentration exercises. It can also be learned in movement class or by expanding into other fields like yoga, tai chi and meditation techniques. Knowing how to focus and release tension will not only help you combat stage fright, it will also help you be in character.
- Scene Study Class
This is where you work on acting scenes. A good scene study class teaches script analysis. You’ll learn how to find clues in the writing to inform your acting, and how to develop a character. Sometimes, scene work is just part of your regular acting class. Other scene study classes focus on a particular playwright (Chekhov, O’Neil, etc.) or genre (comedy, absurd theater, etc.)
- Movement Acting Classes
Acting involves the whole body. You need to embody your characters if you want to really act and not just be in your head. Actually, the body is a great way to start exploring characters. Movement classes are also important for theater acting, which is very physical and requires “stage presence”.
- Voice Classes
If you are going to act, you need to be able to project your voice across a large stage. Voice acting classes teach you breathing techniques and projection. Specific voice techniques like the Linklater approach will also teach you to free your voice to become a better actor.
- Speech Classes
Speech training focus on word formation and articulation. You may have one combined voice and speech class or study speech separately.
There are a lot of auditions out there for Shakespeare plays and acting Shakespeare is not something that comes naturally to most actors, so it’s important to study how to perform classical plays and master the iambic pentameter.
- Acting for the camera
There are technical aspects of screen acting that need to be learned. For examples, actors need to know how to repeat the timing of actions take after take so a film can be edited together. Film acting also requires the actor to internalize more and gesture less than theater acting, where everything is big.
- Accent Elimination Class
If you have any kind of a regional or foreign accent, you need to take a good accent reduction course that will teach you standard speech.
The more accents you can do well, the more opportunities you will have when called in for that special skill on your acting resume. In the least, you should be able to do a British accent well.
- Auditioning Class
Sometimes, the better actor doesn’t get the acting job because they are bad at auditioning. On the other hand, mastering audition skills, including interviews, puts you ahead of the game. A good auditioning class will include mock interviews, audition monologues, on-camera auditioning and cold reading technique.
- Business of acting
You don’t need to take a traditional class to learn the acting business, but you do need to know what makes a good headshot, how to write your acting resume, how to market yourself, where to find auditions and the dos and don’ts of the business. One place to start is ourbecome an actor page, where you can go through the steps of becoming an actor. Another good way to learn the business is casting director and agent workshops.
2) Useful Classes for Actors
Being able to sing greatly widens the range of theater roles you can audition for. Even if you are not Broadway material, you’ll be called to sing at some point in your career, not to mention that singing is a good way to expand and explore your vocal production as an actor.
If you are interested in being a “triple threat”, you’ll want to take a musical theater dance class, along with a wide range of other dance classes including ballet, modern dance, jazz, tap and African. Dance classes are also very useful to actors not interested in musical theater. Ballet will teach you centering and posture while a good jazz or African dance class will give you a strong sense of rhythm. A ballroom dance class is a nice highlight in the “special skills” section of your resume, especially for roles in period plays or films.
- Alexander Technique
This body alignment technique, sometimes incorporated in actor movement classes, is very useful for stage presence and centering.
- Mime and Mask Acting Classes
Studying mime and mask is great for physicality and ensemble work, which is probably why so many acting colleges include these acting classes in their curriculum.
- Stage Combat Class
Stage combat is a great special skill to have on your resume. You can start with basic stage combat training and move on to sword fighting, film fighting and martial arts. These classes are very important if you are interested in stunt work.
- Musical Theater Classes
If you want to be on Broadway, you will want to study acting for musical theater, as well as musical theater voice, music and sight-singing.
- Commercial Acting
Booking commercials requires its own set of skills, but if you have a “commercial look”, learning what advertisers are looking for and how to deliver copy can really pay off.
- Voice Over Technique
Voice overs can be a good way to make a living as an actor, even if they are not your ultimate goal. You could take a voice-over class that covers different styles, from doing character voices to animation and commercial voiceovers, or you could pick the class that fits your type of voice best.
3) Enrichment Classes for Actors
The following acting classes help you grow as an actor and continue to explore your craft.
Any comedy classes will help you with timing and comedic delivery. That’s why some acting schools teach Commedia Del’Arte and Farce. Learning Stand-Up comedy is also a great way to feed from an audience and deal with stage fright.
- Yoga and Tai-Chi
Yoga and Tai-Chi can really help actors with relaxation and concentration.
- Costume and Make-Up for Actors
These classes help with creating your characters. Moreover, women who know how to apply makeup for the camera have an advantage at filmed auditions.
- Playwriting and Screenwriting
Just like a good acting class is very helpful to a playwright, a good writing class can teach you better than anything how to create a character, find your objective or the conflict of a scene.
- Filmmaking for actors
Learning what happens behind the camera will not only help you become a better film actor, it will also help you pick film acting jobs wisely. As an added bonus, you’ll know the basics of making a movie if you need to give yourself your first film acting job.
- Theater classes
Classes in set design, light design, theater management and production, when paired up with hands on backstage experience, not only give you a strong grounding in the theater as a stage actor, it also allows you to put up your own plays if you choose to.
Yes, it’s a lot of acting classes! But you don’t have to take them all at once, and a lot of acting conservatories and colleges combine them all in their curriculum.
All these acting classes will give you strong training as an actor, but you’ll never learn as much in a classroom as you will working and experimenting on stage and on screen, so make sure you pick an acting school that gives you plenty of opportunities to be in front of a live audience and a rolling camera.