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Acting Study Questions

Will High School matter

by Charles

(Australia)

QUESTION:

Hi everyone i am a 20 year old male from australia and a high school drop out. i have done some small acting jobs but i always shy away from bigger roles because of the fear they may ask if i have completed high school and i’ll have to say i have not finished and loose work over it, so does high school really matter for acting?

ANSWER:

No, at least not here in Los Angeles. Nobody cares if you finished high school if you can act and it’s very unlikely anyone would ask that question. You may be asked if you studied acting, but you don’t need to have finished high school to take acting classes. Good luck!

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Acting Study Questions

Acting tips on how to do sensory exercises

QUESTION:

What are sensory exercises and how do you do them?

ANSWER:

Sensory exercises are acting exercises where you practice using your five senses to re-create the reality of something.

For example, you could work on trying to re-create a coffee cup. First, you would work on a real coffee cup, concentrating on how the cup looks (colors, shapes…) and feels (the temperature of the cup, the texture of it…) and on how the coffee smells and tastes. You would also listen carefully to the sounds you hear when you drink the coffee or stir a spoon or straw in the cup. Once you’ve spent a good amount of time with the real cup, you would put it down and try to recreate the feelings you just noted with an imaginary coffee cup. You would try to recall the feel, taste and smell of the coffee, etc. You can go back and forth between the real coffee cup and the imaginary cup until you start being able to recall the cup through your senses. You can see a video demonstration of this simple sensory exercise on our method acting page.

This is just a basic example of a sense memory exercise. You can use sensory exercises to create more complex realities for your acting scenes. For example, you can re-create the feeling of rain or being drunk, tired, hot or cold (you can see a video example of using sense memory to re-create the cold on our Stanislavsky page). You can also use sensory exercises to create complex characters, for example using your senses to explore an animal you think your character is like. The thing to remember is to relax before you start working on a new exercise. Start working on simple exercises like the coffee cup and then you can do more complex sensory exercises as you get better and better at using your senses to re-create imaginary circumstances in your acting scenes.

Sensory exercises are really helpful to help you believe the imaginary circumstances of the play or film you’re in as an actor. Once you believe the imaginary circumstances, the emotions and acting can come naturally.

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Acting Study Questions

Acting with no high school graduation

by Alina Moser

(Austria)

QUESTION:

Do i need a high school graduation to get into an acting school?

ANSWER:

Some schools (often the better ones) require it, but many don’t. Don’t drop out of high school to become an actor, though. There’s no reason to do so. Many teens are very successful in acting and still go to school. When they get an acting job in a movie on location, they continue their studies with a “studio teacher” provided by the studio. If you haven’t graduated high school and want to go to acting school, that shouldn’t be a problem, though.

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Acting Study Questions

How do I do a good dying scene?

by Miranda

(Louisiana)

QUESTION:

In a movie my brother and I are making a few of the characters have to die and I would love to be able to tell them as well as practice myself on being able to complete a death scene properly.
Please help!

ANSWER:

What kind of dying scene is it? Do the characters die suddenly or a slow death? Is it a natural death, an accidental death, are they killed? If so, is it by gunshot or some other way? The answer to these questions will make a big difference when you direct your actors in these scenes. For example, if you’re dealing with a sudden death, they really have to let themselves be surprised each time by what just happened to them, so instead of concentrating on “how to die”, help them really focus on the task at hand or what their objective is at the moment they get shot or stabbed or whatever the situation may be.

Dying scenes are hard. If not done properly, they can easily look comical, so a good way to approach them is to ask a lot of questions from the actor first, so they can really be in the moment when they do the scene instead of indicating. Here are a few questions you can ask:

– Does your character realize right away what happened to them? A lot of the time, when we get in a major accident, there’s a delay between the time we get hurt and the time we realize the extent of our predicament.

– Is your character in pain? What’s the level of pain (from 0 to 10? Is it excruciating immediately or does the pain slowly intensifies? Is there a point when the pain stops?

– Does your character realize they are dying? If so, when do they make that realization? How do they feel about it? How afraid are they? How angry? Etc.

– A lot of people say that when you die, your whole life goes before your eyes. You can take your actors through a visualization exercise while you ask a lot of questions and ask them to see in their imagination all the images the characters see before their eyes in their last moments of life. To make the situation more realistic, you can also lead them through a sensory exercise to explore the pain.

You may also need to look into stage combat techniques if any of the dying scenes involve fights or falls. There are some great resources on the internet like this video on how to fake a fall.

Finally, another thing to take into consideration is the style of your movie. Is it a horror, thriller, drama? This is all going to come into play when you direct the actors.

Have fun!

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Acting Study Questions

How do i do scenes with an actress I’m really attracted to?

by Tim

(NY)

QUESTION:

I have a short career as a mostly ensemble actor but now got one of the leads in a comedy. I need to do scenes where i fall madly in love with a character played by an actress for whom I have had a (safe and secret) crush on for years. I’m a happily married family guy but this makes me both thrilled and scared to do simple scenes with her! How can I get past this so that i can get into character and do justice to these funny scenes?

ANSWER:

Congratulations on your first lead role!

Just because it’s comedy doesn’t mean things can’t be intense. You can probably channel that energy of being excited and scared at the same time and have it serve the character. Just take the energy from your feelings and attribute it to your character. Then ask questions as your character like… “Why do I feel so excited or so scared?” and rationalize it with the given circumstances, this way you can serve the play while at the same time finding an output for your emotions so they don’t interfere with your happily married life.

I hope this makes sense. Good luck!

One last note… I think it’s normal to be a little in love with our scene partners. It’s part of the heightened reality we live in when we act. I think once we take it for what it is, it’s easier to deal with and not let ourselves be worried by emotions that often will last only the time of the project.

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Acting Study Questions

Best Acting Technique for Learning Lines

by Glen Bravestone

(Six Nations Reserve, Canada)

QUESTION:

I am a line fiend – therefore I love memorizing lines and doing them over differently in my head. However, I sometimes become reliant on the other actor’s line cues when delivering my lines, some actors may not be so pinpoint with the script, and the end result is a messy scene. I’m now studying certain techniques and I was pretty deadset on my memorizing technique. Now I’ve been reading that Line memorization doesn’t seem THAT important – Also – I don’t have a very hard time ‘getting in the moment’ as my line delivery is pretty flexible.

So which would be the best technique to help me break out of this mindset of strict memorization? Adler? Meisner? Strasberg?

Thanks in advance!

Glen

ANSWER:

Hi Glen,

If I understand you correctly, you’re wondering how to learn to improvise your text more so you can react when your scene partner messes up the lines? Meisner is the acting technique of choice for moment to moment acting but you could study any acting method you want and then take an improvisation class on the side if you really feel your memorization technique is getting in the way of your acting.

Most acting techniques teach actors to find their characters’ objectives and having a clear objective is really what will help you stay in the moment with the lines.

Another thing you may want to play around with is Stella Adler’s paraphrasing exercises (you can find a short description of one on our Stella Adler acting technique page). Instead of using your usual approach to learning lines next time, work on paraphrasing them until you really feel you understand them and want to communicate them. This will help with memorization and while at the same time giving you flexibility to adapt your response should you need to.

Sometimes actors get so caught up in feeling the lines that we forget to really understand them first. I knew an acting coach who only taught his students that way. Their only objective was to fully pass on the meaning of what they were saying to the other actor. The idea is that the audience then starts to think alongside the actor and becomes fully invested in what happens. If that’s an approach you think will help, you may want to look into a good script analysis class instead of the improv class.

Hope this answers your question!

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Acting Study Questions

Best Options For Study Acting

by matthew williams

(tacoma, wa, us)

QUESTION:

I am 19 an currently employed by the us army…but i would like to begin an acting career in movies, commercials… just anything that i could do because i enjoy the art…

What would be the best approach to doing this (getting into a school for acting or courses i can do??) Paying for school would be no problem because the army would pay for it. But what are some other options for jobs while i am trying to support this career?

ANSWER:

Since you don’t have to worry about paying for school, try to apply to the top acting colleges first (you can find a list of some of the best theater colleges here). This will give you the best chances of success. You’ll get to learn every aspect of the profession, make connections, get a lot of experience on stage and participate in a showcase at the end that will help you find an agent or manager.

Of course, it’s tough to get into and you have to commit for 4 years. Otherwise, there are plenty of good acting schools to choose from with programs between 1-3 years. You can start your search here.

In terms of jobs you can have while you try to become an actor, it can be limited because you need to be available for auditions and to take roles when they come along. For this reason, a lot of actors work as waiters or temporary office workers. Anything that has flexibility is good. You can find more ideas for “rent-paying jobs” in this issue of our newsletter.

Good luck with your new career!

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Acting Study Questions

Should i be homeschooled

by mary santiago

(california)

QUESTION:

Should i be homeschooled so i can get more practice and work on acting or should i just be homeschooled if i make a movie or if i have a tv show?

ANSWER:

There’s no need for teenage actors to be home schooled until they start really working a lot. There’s plenty of time after school and on weekends to go to teen acting classes and prepare for auditions. You’ll find that a lot of teen acting auditions are scheduled later in the afternoon when school is over and parents can drive their kids to castings. Unless you book a series regular role on a TV show or something of that sort that requires a long term commitment, there’s really no need to give up your friends and normal school life.

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Acting Study Questions

Standard American Accent

by Emma

QUESTION:

I cannot afford taking private classes to learn standard American accent.What is the best book with audio cd`s to learn a standard American accent for those who English is a second language?

ANSWER:

A very good book is Speak With Distinction (Textbook and CD). Several acting schools use it. Keep in mind, though, that even if you have a great book to work with, it’s not the same as having a coach listen to you and correct you. Sometimes we don’t “hear” ourselves having an accent. You can record yourself, though, as you work. That should help a lot. If you decide to get the book, click on the affiliate link above. It’s the same price for you and you’ll be supporting our website at the same time. Thanks and good luck!

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Acting Study Questions

What options do I have?

by Anne

(Southern California)

QUESTION:

I can see that acting schools are highly recommended for success as an actor.
The thing is, I highly doubt my ability in getting into a really good acting school,
Because I nearly dropped out of high school at several points of my life due to problems in my personal life, so my transcript doesn’t look appealing at all.

Is my only option to take acting classes? Because it sounds to me that that wouldn’t even be enough.
My past makes me wish I had stayed stronger, and had direction. That was hard to do when I was suicidal at several points in my life.

If I did good in school which I know I’m completely capable of, I think I really could of had a great chance at these big dreams of mine.
Is there still some hope for me?

I know I have the looks of an actress,
And I know I can very well attain the passion if I knew I even had a chance.
I know I have the will because of how far I’ve come from who I used to be.
And I know I’m an artist at heart.
And that being an actress and film making is an art.

What are my options? Tips and guidance would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:

It’s true that it helps to go to a top acting school, but many actors have made it without going to an acting college. Being a good actor doesn’t require you to be a good student in the traditional sense of the word. Understanding a script or a character has more to do with emotional intelligence than academic training.

Moreover, some good full-time acting programs won’t base their decisions on your transcripts as much as your audition. As long as you’re passionate and show commitment and talent, your past experience in school shouldn’t get in your way. Go for a conservatory-type program where most of your time is spent doing, performing, and trying out the techniques you learn.

If you decide to just take acting classes, make sure you build a support system. Acting is tough, and if you’ve struggled with depression before, it could be difficult for you to deal with the rejection that’s part of any actor’s life. So come up with a plan and don’t base your self-confidence on the outcome of an audition or what people may say. There’s tons of stories out there of successful actors who were told they would never make it, so don’t put your self-confidence in the hands of anyone else but yourself. Just follow the steps in how to become an actor and enjoy the process. There’s no reason your past experiences in school should get in your way.

Good luck!