Sunday, July 27, 2008

To Wittenburg! (Or the Local Community College)

I am slowly, but surely, assesing what sort of academic pursuits may help me in my acting endeavors.

For those of you new to Always Off Book, (or those who may have forgotten) I did study acting in college. So my base of study is not that of the total neophyte. There are, however, only a limited number of classes one can take in college. Furthermore, and actor should always be trying to improve.

To wit, I have enrolled in two short courses at the local community college for this fall.

One is a one time seminar; it is about how to make a career out of acting. Yes, I know that I have spend most of my time as an amateur actor, and yes I am already aware of many of the things one must do to get professional jobs. But this class will serve as both a refresher, and as a network building opportunity. I may or may not become a full fledged professional, but do hope to find new venues for my acting talent. Perhaps the class will help me to decide what to do.

Secondly, I will be taking a 4 night course, examine Shakespeare and Politics. Aside from the usual Shakespeare basics, three of his most political plays (Henry V, Julius Caesar, and Coriolanus) will be discussed in the class, as they pertain to political thought. Some of this I am sure will be old new for me. But as I said, the actor should always try to improve one's self, and no actor ever ended up worse by gaining a even better grasp on Shakespeare.

Such are the classes I am taking now.

As money comes in from (hopefully) a better paying job in the future, I feel I must find places to take the following classes, which I deem crucial for the continued success of a stage actor.

--Some sort of stage combat class. Not that I have been in many plays that require fighting. But I have been in some, and in the future hope to bein more Shakespeare. For the Bard's works, combat skills can be invaluable. I hate cheap looking fight scenes.

Plus, the skills learned also help out in non-combat scenes; accidents, prat-falls, and all sorts of other scenarios within a script would be easier to invoke with some combat training I think. Plus, it's just really cool.

--An English dialect class of some sort. By this I mean learning as many accents of spoken English as possible. Starting with the gamut of accents in the U.K., and working through other English speaking nations, including my own.

I do realize there are tapes and such that can be purchased for this purpose, and if I find any I am sure I will take that route. But either way, I feel English accents, done well, would help me in obtained a wide array of roles. I am not bad at English accents now, but why settle for mediocre?

--Singing lessons. I cam very close to taking some vocal lessons along with the previous mention community college classes. But money was tight. However, I am certain I will take some in the future. I have been in musicals, and have always been complimented on the quality of my voice. But I wish to gain more confidence with particular types of singing. Plus, regardless of acting talent, it is the trained singers that constantly get lead roles in musicals around here, even if they really, in the end, do not deserve them. If I can act and sing, (or prove on paper that i know how, which is far too important to too many community level theatres, but a fact of life) than I shall become an official double threat.

Such classes are my goals, (and indeed my inevitable plans come October in the case of the first two mentioned.

If anyone has any other ideas about what classes would be good for me to take, do let me know.

But do not bother with suggestting instructor has ever been, or will be good enough to get me to understand that. Trust me.


Alexus McLeod said...

I second your sentiments about stage combat. I've seen otherwise good performances marred by terrible stage combat. I saw a show at Arena Stage a few years back (now I can't even remember the name of the show!) where two brothers get into a fight on stage. The actors were pretty good, and they were pulling the scene off fairly well when they just had to yell at each other, but then one punched the other and they struggled on the ground for a minute. From where I was sitting (and I don't remember that I was sitting anywhere near the last row in front of stage left, or anything like that), I could see the pulled punch and foot stomp--it looked completely fake, like something right out of the WWF. I really felt like seeing if I could get backstage after the show and have a chat with the director. I would have told them that if I were performing the role of the brother who was punched, I would rather have just taken the punch for real (provided it wouldn't be too hard to mar the following nights' performances) than have the scene look like garbage just because of badly performed stage combat. It just makes the good acting on both sides of it look silly.

Alexus McLeod said...

Ah yes! I remember now--the play was "True West".