There is a simple truth. Anyone can act.
You who are reading this have it within yourself to be an actor. Of course, whether or not you decide to pursue a drama career is a matter of personal choice. Some people may not find the idea of being on stage in front of an audience appealing.
Others may find the prospect of studying at drama school daunting. Still others may not wish to work in a profession with so much uncertainty surrounding the infrequency of work. But let us take some time to consider why everyone has the potential to be an actor.
What is acting?
If you ask anyone on the street how they would define acting, the most common response will probably go something like this: “Someone who pretends to be someone else on television.” While strictly true, this is something of a basic answer which does not attempt to address the deeper nature of acting.
Acting is the process of literally becoming another person and being able to convey the new personality realistically and sincerely.
How is this to be accomplished?
The straightforward answer is to ask as many questions of the role as you can: “Why does the character say/do this?” “What is his/her motivation?” “What position in society does the character hold?” “What are the character’s innermost fears and desires?” etc.
These questions are especially important if the role you are playing differs significantly from your own real-life persona. But this is part of the beauty of acting. It takes you to places you may not otherwise go. It allows you to step into the minds of a whole array of different people; rich, poor, successful, failures, kind, evil, damaged, truthful, manipulative and so on. Acting is a magnifying glass on the world.
What can acting give me?
Acting is a tremendous way of boosting your confidence. If you are shy, there is nothing more satisfying than standing confidently on stage and overcoming your fear. If you immerse yourself in the role and focus solely upon it, you will learn to block out all the elements which contribute to shyness.
Acting encourages you to broaden your imagination as you study your script and ponder over different ways of playing your role. Acting is a case of trial and error.
You will consider multiple ways in which to portray your character. Some will work better than others. It is not possible to construct a character overnight.
If you struggle with communication, as I did, acting can be a wonderful vehicle to teach you social skills. A typical script will mostly consist of dialogue. Although there may be solo monologues, these will be few in number and the majority of the spoken dialogue will be conversational. You can discuss this
with your fellow actors and try to identify how each line contributes to the conversation, what impact (if any) it has and why certain words lead to certain reactions. You can then transfer these skills to the real world, with the added advantage that in drama, comments that lead to conflict are staged and there is no risk of personal offence or embarrassment to the participants.
Rehearsing and perfecting a scene requires teamwork and if this is a concept you don’t have much experience in, acting is a marvellous way of teaching you how to work well with others. Good communication and a willingness to listen to the ideas and opinions of others are vital if every actor in a scene is to give their best.
Additionally, working with your cast-mates is a great way to meet like-minded people and potentially make new friends, especially if you share a mutual love of performing.
Concentration is a vital aspect of acting and if you lack concentration skills, rehearsing for shows is an ideal situation in which to boost them.
Good concentration and focus help to prevent distraction and allow an actor to devote themselves fully to their role. They are also useful attributes when learning lines, especially if the role is large and demands that many lines be memorised.
In many walks of life, we can expect to receive constructive feedback at some stage. Not everyone takes well to being told they’re doing something wrong, but it is necessary to inform us as to how we can improve our work.
In acting, you can expect plenty of constructive feedback as the director attempts to steer the rehearsals in the direction that he or she desires. A good director will encourage you to achieve your best and not discourage you and conquering your aversity to feedback will set you in good stead in many work situations.
Why not try it yourself?
This is but a taste of the potential benefits that acting can provide. It is true that not all of us can become Hollywood superstars nor pursue acting as a full-time career.
The field is notoriously difficult to find a constant stream of work in and for many a life of uncertainty is not for them. But acting in a more amateur or local fashion has the potential of changing the lives of everyone who participates in it.
There are new friendships to be made, new life lessons to be learned, truths about ourselves to be discovered and new adventures to undertake. Anyone can act, and act well, provided they are willing to attempt to see the world through another’s eyes and to bring that persona to life given time, practice and determination.
As Shakespeare said, the entire world’s a stage and all the men & women are merely players. What role will YOU play?
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