Friday, November 13, 2009

Opting Out 2

In the interest of completeness, I want to mention that the final day of the acting class I signed up for is tonight. (As far as I know, unless it has been changed again.)

I will not be attending.

I mentioned that I skipped last week's class due to not having time to prepare for the short scene, and for various other reasons. In contemplated for a time going back tonight to cap things off, but decided that not only is my schedule for tonight problematic, it would also be a bit fruitless.

Given that I have not been involved in this second scene, and that the exercises and discussions are unlikley to vary much from the first round of scenes, I don't think there would be much reason to attend. Especially considering that the last time I attended, having completed my monologue for the second time, really and truly felt like a concluding point for the class for me in my heart. It was a high note, during which I learned some things, and felt satisfied with a few things I had previously been unsatisfied with. Even before the scheduling conflict, I think I knew deep down that when I left that night I probably wouldn't be coming back.

So what have I learned from this experience? on the acting side I did learn a few tips and tricks that I think I can put to use during some future rehearsal processes. I also learned to ask for a syllabus and schedule confirmation before committed the money and time to another such class in the future.

But that goes to the heart of another thing I learned. Perhaps the biggest thing; acting classes may not be the thing for me.

I say that not because I do not feel I have learned everything I need to learn. On the contrary. I have advised readers of this blog, and of my column on more than one occasion that the actor's education is never over. I stand by that.

Yet being in this class did illuminate something that I have suspected. Classes with instructors tend to teach methods. One method often at the expense of the other. And while sometimes being trained in a specific method can be very helpful to the first time actor, (as several in this class were), I think for the seasoned actor, like myself, it is more often than not going to cause friction and stress. I tend to feel that I have paid my dues already in college by being educated through formal classes, and that now in my career it is time to educate myself through experience. Through experimentation. Taking risks. Reading and writing about the craft. In general opening myself up to all of the arts, and related experiences. By doing this I can come to the truth of what I wish to do, and ignore calls to follow specific laid out plans.

Each show, character and theatre is different, and they call for different approaches. At least they do for me. And while a class may in fact exist that is more about bringing out the individual actor than it is about coaxing conformity to one perspective or another, I am thinking that it is probably not worth the investment and risk to find out in the future. Not without meeting the instructor and talking to those who have taken the class before. That probably would have been a good idea this time, but I didn't do so, and that cannot be undone.

Barring the discovery of such an instructor, I think future acting related classes I take will be focused tightly on specific aspects. Stage combat for instance. Dialect classes. Singing. By improving specific aspects of my craft, I improve my whole approach by default.

So, my approach was confirmed in the breach of the class more so than in the practice of it. But I will not say the class was a waste. Though it was through the back door in some ways, being in the class did help me focus even greater attention on the things that work for me, and the things that do not. We are also improved by such knowledge. Though the class was not what I was expecting, I do not come away empty handed.

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