5 essential secrets for an actor

Acting is a form of art that is incredibly confusing to tackle at and super hard to talk about. Many people have given it a try and many also had given up. Whether it has to do with finance, schedule or interest, it takes a brave, risky decision to even give it a try. For those who are still pursuing, or have just started pursuing this form of art, I’m sharing with you my five essential secrets when I tackle acting. Know that this list is not fixed, it is different for everybody in this field. Some may help you, some may not, nothing is “right” in this blog, you have to give it a try yourself. Perhaps that is a secret by itself. patient

This is probably one of the advice that you hear the most and it is for a reason. It can not be over exaggerated when it comes to acting.

Having patience is one of the most important traits that an actor need to have, not just for the career in terms of looking for jobs, but also for the self-improvement of the craft, and of the person.

Acting takes a long time to get a good hold of, it is not a question and answer type of job. You will become frustrated, confused and overall unsatisfied with your work more often than not, but don’t give up. Keep on tackling your work, challenging your craft and if you keep that up you will get something out of it. No matter if it’s something beneficial or not, it’s something that’ll you’ll be able to keep in the back of your head.

Being an actor also means being much more understanding of yourself in many ways, and those realizations about who you are as a person and an artist probably will take a good chunk of your time out. So keep your head down and learn as many things as possible, open up your heart and take in what you are going to encounter.

2. memorization is different than reading the script

For those of us who love acting knows how important memorization is. Without good memorization, you will not be able to really dive into the story or the character.

First thing every actor should do when they first get their character is to learn the script. Get it down and get it out of the way. When you are rehearsing and you struggle because you are in search of the words, you get blocked. So remember those words to the point where you don’t have you even think about what they are, they just come out.

However, there is a difference between memorizing the script and simply remembering the words then repeating them. Don’t fall into the trap of repeating word for word and letting that be your priority. A teacher of mine said that the words in the play are like an envelope and the emotions behind it are the letter in the envelope. So don’t send your partner on stage with an empty envelope, write something in it.

When you’re on stage or in front of the camera you will experience urges to slip out some words or actions, let them out, try it out. As long as you have the script in the back of your head, the playwright has got your back, trust them and have fun.

3. let yourself be thrown off

When you go into a play or a scene, never expect any of the lines from your partner. From my summer camp at Tisch, I’ve learned that expectation for an actor is DEATH.

In a play, you’ll probably know the plot of the story and the lines of your partner in some ways. Perhaps you know exactly what your partner will say after every single line of yours, but you can never expect them to happen.

It’s easier said than done and I’m still figuring out a way of better reacting to my partner in a play. When I was rehearsing a scene in the summer camp I was the character who had to come into the room and talk with the other character. The first time I walked in and said my first line, my teacher told me to go back out and do it again. The same thing with the second time, she said to me that I was angry and asked me why was I angry.

I didn’t know I was angry, I couldn’t tell, but she could. In the scene that we were rehearsing my character does encounter a conflict with the other person. So I was already expecting what the play was going to be about with absolutely no reason. That gives my character no dynamic, just some person on stage getting ready to say the next line.

But on the third time I came into the room, my partner surprised me with a big and open hug that I was at all not expecting, that put me in a good mood. Not just that she also told me to help zip up the dress or something her character was wearing for the scene, at the same time I was delivering my lines. The multitasking threw me completely off guard and right there and then I felt like I was completely engaged with my partner.

That is the best feeling ever. If you’re afraid of being thrown off, let me tell you that more often than not, it absolutely works for the character and the play. Who really knows what’s going to come in our life?  

4. trust and listen to your partner

Ah, this is a big one. Acting requires a ton of teamwork. If one person in a whole cast is somewhere else but the present with their peers, everybody who engages with that actor will be thrown off.

You can’t be trying to achieve a certain type of emotion while your partner is there on stage talking to you. You get what you get and you go off of that.

Listen to your partner, if you’re somewhere else in your head (unless it’s specific for your character) and not in the present, you are screwing both of you guys up. It is very obvious for someone to see if you are truly taking in what others are saying and if you are off somewhere in your la la land trying to force some emotions out.

You can’t give the ending out right at the beginning, you work your way there with your friends on stage or on camera. You have to trust your partner and your partner will have to trust you. It’s hours of the trust fall exercise between the cast. Be a vulnerable person in front of your comrades, they’re not going to hurt you (in real life).

5. let go of everything

This is something I think you can only achieve only if you have done all the other jobs. Let go of everything, let loose.

There are many techniques you can learn to improve your acting skills such as Meisner, practical aesthetics, Stella Adler, etc, but all of them help you to a certain point. That is to get into this realm of acting.

When you get fully soaked into the story and the script how will you have time to think about all those techniques? Your plate would be full of your emotions, your partner’s emotions, what each other is saying, what your bodies look like. You won’t have time to think about anything. You’re right there.

The only time you will be thinking of those techniques again is when you’re drifting out of the moment. You can feel it very clearly when you are drifting out of the moment and in order to get back in, you will need to use those techniques.

Once you do though, let go. Let your body and your mind float in this weird and exciting space of acting. Anything here is cool and don’t worry too much about if you’re doing the technique right because if you do, you’re out of that space.

You don’t need to intellectually understand why you’re feeling certain ways, you just need to trust it. Let all the amazing script writings, costumes, partners and feelings do the job for you, you just make sure you get tangled in the magic of all of them.

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