Once again, Happy New Year, and thank you to all creative advice seekers. While actors all over begin achieving their New Year's goals, aspirations and resolutions, this week's column offers tips on being real in monologues, finding casting websites, and addresses just how important your school's reputation is.
I invite actors of all ages to continue write me with any problems encountered at auditions, in class, or anything you feel could be standing between you and your talent. Make sure to check the previous columns to see if your question, or one like it, has been answered already!
I have a problem. I have been acting for a few years, and I think I'm pretty good. But recently I took a monologue class and though I thought it helped me a lot, when I did a piece for a bunch of my close friends -- they said it came off fake and strained. I also haven't been called back to any auditions recently. I am trying to do what I learned and it feels real to me. But it seems my audience doesn't agree. What do I do? What do I trust -- what I'm feeling inside or what people say?
A lot of people I work with have the same question and it is a difficult one to answer in the column because I can't see your work, and there are many elements involved. For example, if the friends you performed for are all cut-throat competitive actors, the problem may be your friends and not your acting. But more likely than not, they are genuinely seeing something that's not working, and being honest about it.
An artist trying to draw someone realistically can look at what he's drawn and see where he is off, then go about trying to fix it. But actors many times cannot tell how off the mark their portrayals are, because they cannot see themselves. It can take many years for an actor to really sense whether or not he is truly connected.
My least favorite thing is when a monologue appears to be really rehearsed. I hate to "see the work" that people have done. It is what many refer to as "indicating," not acting. It is possible that by trying to follow the instructions of your workshop, you are working too hard, thinking about what you are supposed to be doing from the last time you did it, rather than being "in the moment." I would suggest, after you have followed what you learned in class, that you try a simple monologue technique given to me by Mary McDonnell. It works wonders, as long as you have done the preliminary homework on your character before.
Just before you perform the monologue, isolate the emotion that is going on with you, and where it lives in your body. If you are at an audition you may be feeling fear, if you just were caught in traffic you may feel angry -- whatever it is, even if you think it doesn't apply to the piece at all -- commit to it. Don't make a feeling up. If you feel nothing, let that be, just commit to it and begin the monologue from there. Forget what you think the character should be feeling. Allow your tendency to deliver certain rehearsed speech patterns go, trusting that by connecting with what is going on with you in the moment and speaking from there, you are bringing yourself into the truth of the character.
This exercise allows you to by-pass self-consciousness by placing your focus inside. It encourages you to express from your body, not your head. It puts you in touch with your feelings and impulses -- and if you are committed enough, you will discover the feelings can and do change, and through your creative impulses, the will monologue begin to reveal itself to you. It's like the monologue is doing you instead of the other way around. When you put your attention on your inner life and communicate from there you, can find a reality that you could not have "thought up" before you started.
I recommend you try this at different times, in front of different people. Never try to recreate what you did the time before. Start each time from where you are, and let it be new.
Best of luck.
I was wondering if there were any web sites or areas online that had lists of acting auditions for film (movies/TV) thanks if you have any information.
Dear Aspiring Screen Actor,
The Callboard (www.thecallboard.com) has the most film/audition notices. There is a membership fee to receive this information.
Backstage On-Line also has casting news (www.backstagecasting.com). There are some film auditions listed. It is free.
I am currently attending university majoring in dramatic studies. I have full intentions of one day pursuing a professional career. My question is this: although my school has an excellent drama program, I'm not sure it is especially recognized as such compared to other schools. Will my degree be taken as seriously, or should I consider transferring to a school with a better reputation? I truly believe I am receiving a good education, though perhaps not as good as some of the more renowned schools. How much do casting directors emphasize the reputation of the school you attended? Will a school with a better reputation get me "more in the door"?
To quote from an earlier column of mine, Ron LaRosa, of Johnson-Liff Casting (Miss Saigon, Les Miz, Phantom, etc.) says, "I always look to see where [actors] studied, but in my opinion, talent outshines everything. It's important for people to study and to continue to study, but not necessarily for a college degree. Talent is what hires people in the end." So if you feel you as you said, that you enjoy the education you are getting where you are, then by all means, stay put. If you put your all into it, you will reap the rewards of a great education.
In a few weeks I will be auditioning for Anne of Green Gables at Charlottetown Festival, PEI, Canada. This is an amazing company and I would love to work with them. The show, Anne, has been running there for thirty odd years, but last year was my first time auditioning for them. I had a great audition and was considered for the part of Diana. My problem is that I would like to do the song I did last year. I found one that is perfect in so many ways...my range, the style of the music, and the character it shows. Do you think it is OK to do a song for a company two years in a row? They audition thousands across Canada every year so I wonder if they will remember me or not and if they do will they think I'm lazy for not choosing a new song. What do you think?
Stressed in Canada
Singing the same song is OK.
Just sing it better this time. :>
I understand that this song suits you very well, but if you're really stressed about it, just learn a new one and take care of the problem that way.
Whatever you decide, have fun and good luck!
Dear Ms. Glaser,
I recently discovered your column and enjoy it very much. I am a working non- Equity actor in the Santa Barbara area and I am always trying to fine tune my craft and I try to challenge myself. Though there are very good and knowledgeable acting coaches/directors in the area. . .I feel I may need a new and fresh approach. Do you know of anyone in my area you would recommend for private acting coaching or even a small class situation??
I thank you for your time and the best to you and yours in the new year.
Thanks for the good wishes. I'm glad you're enjoying the column, but I don't know the answer to your question! I am not familiar with teachers in Santa Barbara, but I'm printing the question here just in case any readers might be able to help you.
Anyone who has any info can e-mail me and I will forward it on to Katie. Thanks!