Thursday, November 15, 2007

ON ACTING: Purchasing an Acting Teacher

Acting teachers sometimes call their acting classes 'workouts'.

The term provides a useful analogy for acting training...and teacher purchasing.

An acting teacher offers for pay workout equipment (their programs and philosophies), and a corollary suggested regimen of use.

A good teacher says in effect: "Workout on my equipment, with my suggested training regimen, and I will assure you that expending the same amount of effort as you would have expended in another gym, and with an equal amount of expended time, you will more quickly grow a bigger, stronger body."

Shopping for a good teacher is like shopping for a good gym.

Before putting down any money visit the gym, check them out the equipment (programs and teaching abilities), ask to use their equipment once or twice (in acting-teacher purchase terms, it's called a class 'audit'). Ask others who have been to the gym how they liked it; seek out references. While auditing in class, decide whther you want to watch those students actors in a theater or film...just as you do when you go to the theater or movie house because you like to see your favorite actor over and over again (You know good acting; you just don't know good acting teaching...yet).

Only when you are confident that that particular teacher (gym, equipment and regimen) can provide you--YOU, the individual with unique needs and learning proclivities (I often say: 'A good acting teacher doesn't teach acting; they teach a person acting)--the requisite information, techniques and encouragement to make efficient your learning of acting, only then should you sign up.

And I would strongly suggest you should have an 'out' clause to the teaching contract. Remember: acting teachers do not provide warranties; therefore they shouldn't demand long-term contracts. I personally have always taught on a month-by-month basis...a perpetually renewable term-contract if you will. Which, in my mind, is the fairest and most enriching contract between actor and student...for both sides! Who wants to be in a class when no one wants to be there--except everybody is tied into a long term contract?!

Acting teaching is a business. You, the students, are the customers. So be as smart in purchasing the services of an acting teacher as you would when hiring a plumber, an electrician or an auto mechanic...or a physical trainer in a gym. With the final warning on the label: You, the student, must put in the time and effort; the blood, sweat and tears to maximally use the equipment; you can't just 'buy the spandex outfit, show up once in a while, stand around and chat and HOPE for a good body!

Acting is easy; excellence results from hard work...aided by a good workout/gym/teacher.


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