Last month, one of my favorite columnists, Bonnie Gillespie, wrote a post for the Actors Voice, entitled Just Get Better, which made total sense to me, because, as she so aptly put it, "This, my friends, is the Super Bowl of Acting. Even the pros ride the bench much of the time. You actually want the honor of some decent playing time with these folks? Get better. Train."
This summer I've enrolled in two kickass classes. One is with Karen Kohlhaas from The Atlantic Theatre School and the other is with Deloss Brown, former Juilliard professor who's currently teaching at NYU.
I start As You Like It with Deloss tonight, working on the comedy of Shakespeare. And Karen's class is called Fearless Cold Reading, and I started that on Tuesday night.
I had taken Karen' Monologue Workshop in the spring and loved it so much! Her instruction and the Atlantic technique gave me this wonderful sense of expansion, and I felt a great improvement in my auditions. I had to continue my studies, so I jumped at the chance to take her Fearless Cold Reading class.
Last year I was cast in 2 off Broadway shows based on cold-readings: Kaboom and Johnny on a Spot.
This kind of an audition is seeing the script for the first time and performing it "cold," which I intuitively do well, but wanted to increase my success rate. And that was one of the things Karen said in class. So much of this business is doing everything you can to raise your percentage of getting work. There's 95% unemployment amongst actors, so the 5% that are working are literally doing something that works pretty much every time.
Like Bonnie said, even star performers are sometimes "benched" or out of the game for whatever reason, but do you think they're sitting around, twiddling their thumbs? NO WAY. There's training to do for the body, mind, spirit, and the craft of acting! Taking classes, meeting people, going to auditions, practicing every day, these are the things we need to do to stay in the game.
I was telling my sweetheart, Rob, that what I've been learning from Karen and Deloss this year are tips that add to my entire package. Heck! Every teacher has helped me cultivate that which I am today, and I am so grateful for that.
It's like cooking! All of these teachers have given me wonderful spices to add to my main dish, and it's a delight to sense all of this taking shape. Simple things like coming into the audition room "Big and Slow," emanating positivity, finding the action/objective of any piece of material (monologue, scene, song), breathing, leading from and opening up my heart, which actually makes me stand taller, not rushing myself, taking in my scene partner and the people in the room, going for the action/objective of the character, supporting my voice, using my physical and vocal range, talking with the casting people like human beings and not trying to "get" anything from them, just enjoying the moment of being there to share in the experience, to BE in that moment, and then to leave the room with ease and grace.
It's amazing how all that can happen in a 2 minute audition. :) But it's been happening more and more lately, whether its a musical audition like the one I did for Pure Country earlier in the week, or the one I'm heading to today for Smudge with the Women's Project. It's all good, and I feel like I get better and better every time I put myself out there.
It's a blast!