By Guy Camilleri
Are you searching for an acting class this fall? Where does one look, and more importantly, what does someone look for in a teacher?
In full disclosure, I am an actor and an acting teacher. I teach a class on Monday and Wednesday evenings in Venice Beach at the Electric Lodge. That being said, it’s important to me that you find the teacher and the class that is right for you.
When I moved to New York to act, I recall using Backstage newspaper to help me find an acting class. I audited and interviewed several teachers; some very well known, and others less so.
These days, there is no shortage of information on how, when and what to look for in acting classes. I trust you will peruse the plethora of websites, articles, blogs and referrals out there to assist you in finding the right course, the best teacher for you and, as a bonus, a tribe of fellow actors and artists in support of you on your journey.
When I found Gene Frankel (my first acting teacher/coach) and my first tribe, I knew I had made the right choice. I knew this because of his experience, his approach to the work and the vibe I got from him and his class at large. Gene’s teaching style came from a place of strength and love (sometimes tough love), but never from a place of manipulation or cruelty. The adage that ‘the best actors are the most generous actors’ applies to teachers as well.
When I left New York for Los Angeles, I took with me the insights and techniques learned from Gene that are invaluable to me as an actor and human being. To this day, they remain a part of my methodology as an actor, teacher and coach.
Here are four tips to consider when searching for an acting class:
Audit an acting class that provides you the opportunity to work each week. Imagine hiring a surfing coach for four surf lessons and having to sit on the beach for one or two of them while watching the others having a blast surfing! At my studio, I often repeat this: “Acting is doing, and the doing requires practice.”
The Vibe Matters
Notice the overall vibe in the room. Is there an air of desperation disguised as caring for each other? Is it competitive? Is the teacher directorial? Or, does it feel like a safe, dynamic space filled with love, curiosity, unbridled enthusiasm, support and encouragement. Also, notice the teacher’s vibe and approach. Instead of directing or telling you what to do, does the teacher seem to ask the questions that will inspire you to find the answers?
The Teacher Matters
Is it evident that the teacher has a deep understanding of the craft of acting and knowledge about the psychology of human behavior? Is this teacher able to effectively communicate insights, notes and specific information without hidden agendas and expectations from you? Does the teacher have a sense of humor?
Teaching to Each Student
Does the teacher possess the ability to adapt to the needs of each student instead of putting their own needs (and sometimes neediness) front and center?
I highly recommend that you audit a class before registering so you can look for these important details. After auditing an acting class, if you are unsure what to do, trust the wise voice inside you. This voice will become a big part of your practice as an actor, whether you are in an acting class or on a film or television set. At the end of the day, no one knows better than you.
Guy Camilleri is a Venice-based actor, acting-life coach, and poet. His classes are packed with actors, writers, directors and creative people from all walks of life on Monday and Wednesday evenings at the Electric Lodge, in Venice.
His private coaching specializes in building characters for film, television, stage, audition preparation, self-taped auditions, original reels and self-expression in any field of interest. To audit, enroll in a class or book a coaching session, visit www.guycamilleri.com.
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