In classes, discussion and response to the work of your fellow students is a frequent and useful component of training. Learning to give and receive feedback is an important element of your training. Develop your observational skills as well as your ability to articulate your thoughts and feelings so you can tune your instrument to internalize and respond to feedback from others. This can be a three-ring binder, a composition book or a special book that you purchase for the purpose.
But we suggest that you use the book for at least these tasks:. Take notes from rehearsals and class. Collect important research for your development of a character and understanding of the world of the musical. Few things in life are more personally exposing than acting. Training as an actor, especially in the musical theatre, requires you to wake up your impulses and enter the role without barriers or emotional protection. Behavior is everything. Even small practical courtesies can make a big difference. What you do will set the tone for everyone.
Working safe and working smart Twenty practical ways to turn your work space into a safe space 1. Show up on time, warmed up and ready to work. Know your music, lines and choreography before being asked. Do your homework and research on the role and bring in ideas. Remove outside distractions. Turn off cell phones. Leave personal problems at home. If you have an argument or even if you fall in love with someone, keep it outside the studio. Respect the physical space. Be sober. Be hygienic. Check your breath. Stay clean. Theatre requires intimacies and musical theatre requires lots of physical exertion.
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Avoid perfumes or scented products since some people have allergies to them. Be respectful about touch. Communicate well with your partners and honor their limits. Theatres are often physically dangerous spaces. In a blackout or stage fog, you can fall off a platform, trip into the pit, get scenery lowered onto your. There are gunshots, strobe lights, turntables, high heels and bayonets.
Stay focused. Respect all the many collaborators. A production requires of number of exceptional artists. Performers depend on a small backstage army never seen by the audience. Spend some time working backstage. Learn that side of theatre so you can interact effectively and gratefully with these professionals. Listen and be open to new ideas. Remain fully present and receptive to direction and to the multiple layers of information coming from the other characters onstage.
Write it down to make it stick. Be worthy of trust. Make the rehearsal and classroom environment into an ideal society of collaborative artists. Be childlike but never childish. Act with creative impulse but never with thoughtlessness. Set high standards for yourself and compete only with yourself. Inspire others by your example. Many people are attracted to the theatre because it is an embracing, supportive and emotionally open society. It all adds up to a word theatre folk hold sacred: ensemble. It is that troupe of special people who seem to function in an effortless harmony.
It needs to be cultivated. It takes a special set of attitudes and aptitudes to do it well. We want to outline a few of those as you begin this work. The test of your choices as an actor will often reside in that question. So, when we observe the work of our peers in production or in class, the term real is less useful to us than the terms believable under the circumstances or truthful.
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In the theatre, believability has to do with our innate feeling that the actions and behaviors of the person inhabiting a role are in line with the reality the writers have created. And when they fall out of sync with that theatrical reality we instinctively recognize the disconnect. The thoughts, needs and feelings of the character are expressed in a way that is particular to that actor under the circumstances of the character.
As actors, we seek to inhabit the role completely, reacting to all of the many stimuli we receive from the actors onstage with us, the imaginary world of the writers, the historical context of the piece and our own imagination. Believability and truth are central to achieving this goal. A working vocabulary that allows us to say what we mean is one of the essential tools of your trade.
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That means you will experience every part of the carefully planned performance as if it never happened before. Discoveries must feel fresh, defeats be suffered and victories relished in the immediacy of the moment. And the words you speak, steps you dance and songs you sing must spring from you as if newly minted.
This is all part of living truthfully in an imaginary world before an audience. Actors experience their most private and revealing moments in public. Think of this as public solitude. All actors need to learn that this is a fundamental part of their art. It takes some getting used to, this exposing our innermost feelings before a teacher or director, a classroom or cast, or a paying audience.
That public sharing of private moments is why audiences are drawn to live performance. They want to be allowed to watch someone else live through experiences they might not get to, or would be afraid to have. Actors are brave emotional warriors. Your willingness to relish this kind of personal exposure is central to becoming a great actor in any medium. The energy we get from that kind of attention, and the chance to share our deepest feelings of joy or sadness in such a public way can be intoxicating. You will still get the thrill of performance as you live truthfully in the imaginary circumstances of your role.
But, that is no longer the goal. It has become a side effect. This transition from one who needs the attention of the audience to one who seeks to serve the dramatic moment is a hallmark of great actors. And this is the difference between being a performer and being an actor. Many of the best cabaret and concert artists make this same transfer by treating each song as a one-act play.
The immersion into the given circumstances of the characters they create song-by-song is no less dramatic than when working on an evening-length role. For sheer personal satisfaction and a love-fest between you and the audience, you always get a curtain call at the end of the evening, where it is your right and privilege to bask in their adoration. Playful work, disciplined play It can be fun to be in a musical, whether in a high school production, a community theatre or on Broadway. But it is also a lot of hard work.
And there are times when it is more work than fun to get the job done. This is where your commitment to building and sustaining excellence must take over. Artists are willing to toil over a single moment until it serves the production. But a professional actor not only hits his physical marks every time, he also hits the emotional marks. By expanding his vocal and physical expression, he conveys the truth of the character in a way that reaches us in the back of the balcony.
This is called theatricality. It is life plus magnitude. All theatrical performance involves some degree of theatricality. The appropriate degree of magnitude has a great deal to do with where your audience is, how large it is and the imaginary world of the musical. Most of these stem from this overt theatricality. If asked, most people would say that good acting should look just like life itself; it should be natural, truthful, believable, artless and unaffected.
This is part of the joy of doing musicals, and is also a job requirement.