Why books (and classes) are so important
Have you ever sat down and thought, blooming heck, all I seem to do is send agent emails and tweet back to Casting Director and nothing much else?! Insanity right.
Do you make time to read in between your auditions and line learning and television watching? I had a brilliant acting book that I was reading last year….and I totally got busy and forgot about it. Naughty me! But I went back to it recently and re-read it (and finished off that last little bit I had to go) and I really think actors should read it. There was so much juicy goodness in it. But also, it reminded me of the massive importance of reading as part of “our acting art and training”.
So let’s get to the specifics of the book later!
Right now I wanna talk classes and reading. And in a future post if you want, I’m happy to suggest some great people and classes. Just let me know.
Why actors should go to class
We are actors and we get our inspiration, our fears, our failures and our regrets out of our system in class. If you make sure that you work the muscles required to be great actors by frequently attending classes (whatever works for you) then you are giving yourself a bloody good nudge in the right direction to making sure that you don’t mess up your auditions.
Particularly as we near the end of the year, and (for those who celebrate) Christmas approaches, auditions start to dwindle. No you aren’t a bad actor and your agent isn’t punishing you. If you haven’t been seen it is most simply that from now until the end of the year things are going to start to wind down. After all, we only have 20 something sleeps until the 1st January 2016. O M G.
So if you’re always in the habit of doing classes, be that a formal acting class, lessons with a private teacher, with practicing with improv buddies, or even just peer-to-peer on a regular basis, then you are constantly keeping your actor muscles tense (but hey, if you’re busy booking with no time for classes, then even better!). You are getting rid of the rubbish bits of nerves that can hinder your auditions. You are honing your craft. You are creating more exciting character choices that you can pluck out at the right time.
As a side note, if you want some personal recommendations on classes, let me know and I can set up a post for my readers. There are some great courses, classes and teachers in and around London, as well as the UK and further afield.
And this is why books are important too
Some of the best stuff I ever learnt about mindset as an actor was when I read Bob Fraser’s book You Must Act about 8 years ago. I bought it online and patiently waited for my CD to arrive (yes Bob was so cool that even then he was sending out e-books!). I read that book more than once, and probably will again at some point. Sadly Bob is no longer with us, but his inspiration will remain with me forever.
Leonie Dawson also releases an incredible workbook every year that I use to prepare myself for the year that will be. I swear by this book so much I asked her if I could be an affiliate (I’m fully transparent always!). If I’m not doing the work, then I can’t get results. And I wish everyone would follow her lead and plan for each year for success.
I know not everyone needs classes, and not everyone loves reading. And maybe most people hate setting goals. Whatever. You just have to work out what WORKS FOR YOU! All I know is sitting on your ass waiting for the phone to call, does not work.
Reading is so good for the mind and so good for the soul. Even five minutes a day is cathartic. There are actual health benefits for you. It’s proven to be awesome, helps with your vocabulary and improves concentration (ummm now that’s gotta be good when we want to learn lines!!) Read this lifehack article if you need more proof.
And this brings me full circle right back to the book I was mentioning earlier.
You’ll know if you’ve ever stopped by my Inspire page that I’m a pretty dedicated reader. It’s been a part of me since my parents gave me my first books as a child. And to manage the work vs fun of reading I always have two books on the go. Typically one fun novel (J. K. Rowling, Haruki Murakami, Dan Brown, or even Candace Bushnell ilk – yeah I didn’t say I always read Booker Prize winning novels) and one acting book.
Acting books rock my world
Sharon Sorrentino, a London based Casting Director, wrote a book in 2013 that I started reading last year. And then like the muppet that I am, I got distracted (most likely by some silly novel) and forgot to finish. But I came back to it and it is wonderful. Have you read The Audition Room: A down to Earth Guide?
Actors often fall short of finding out the practical stuff that they need to know that will help them with the business side of acting. My B.A.B.E. site has always been about the practical and positive side of acting, and that is why this book resonated with me so much. It is literally a PRACTICAL guide to getting stuff done.
There are even very well-known Casting Directors like John Hubbard, Joyce Nettles and Alison Chard quotes littered throughout the book (to name a few).
What you need to be doing is working on the details that will help you crack the BIG TIME. If you think that working in independent land for the rest of your life, is the way forward, then perhaps this isn’t for you. But if you want to crack into the world where the big CDs live, you need to make sure you aren’t making a mess of things before you even get started.
I cringed during one section where Sharon even talked about being hit up about work by an actor, when she was at a funeral. WTF! I assume none of my readers would ever be that stupid. But hey, sometimes the obvious does need to be stated.