Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back to School

When I first moved to New York, I had been accepted into the American Musical & Dramatic Academy. It was my dream to study musical theatre in New York City, and so there I was, making my dream come true!

Shortly out of school, I booked some lovely gigs in CA and PA, and worked steadily as an actor for quite a few years. At that time it never occurred to me to continue my education, because I was learning and developing and applying my skills "on the job."

So when I moved back to New York,  and decided to focus on doing work here, in the city, I found myself doing a lot of Off Off Broadway that didn't pay enough for me to make a living. So I had to supplement my income, and let me tell ya, I've done it all: waiting tables, temp jobs, you name it.

I got lucky with an office gig that's artist-friendly, and they've been great about working around my acting schedule, giving me time off for out-of-town gigs, and rehearsals and performances Off Broadway. They've been with me every step of the way - from Off Off Broadway to Off Broadway - and they said they hope I'll keep working with them til I get my Tony. :)

This reminds me of Susan Blackwell's great interview, "Why I Keep My Day Job." She's a marvelous actress, whom I recently saw in my friend, Andy Monroe's Off Broadway show, The Kid.

In between acting gigs and juggling my thrival job, as Bonnie Gillespie calls it, I've discovered the importance of going back to acting classes. I don't know why I resisted it before. Maybe there was a pompous, "Oh I don't need to do that," kind of naivete, but I tell you, going back to school has been the best thing for me! And I've discovered that major movie stars and top quality actors whom I admire never stop studying with a good coach. It's essential.

So I'm very grateful for my teachers who've nurtured me along the way.

There have been life-changers like Karen Kohlhaas and her Monologue Audition class, in which Karen covers the importance of how to walk into an audition room. You'd never think of how important that is, but it's HUGE! Your body language and attitude signal so much about you before you even open your mouth. And how you walk out of the room, and how you mentally talk to yourself as you walk out of the room, are just as important.

Her steps on "Audition After Care" are PRICELESS.  Seriously, get her book or study with her if you can.

Currently, I'm in an awesome scene study class with Alaine Alldaffer at One on One, and it's another class where I feel any and every actor would benefit from it. Simply amazing!

Also, this week I bounce back into Josh Pais' Committed Impulse Master Class, and I can't wait! This class is such an incredible workout. It's in-the-moment acting!

And that's what hit me the other day when someone asked me why I still go to acting class. Yes, I learn from every audition and performance I do, but acting classes are a workout. They keep my acting skills in shape.

Look at an athlete or a concert musician. You think they just do their jobs "on the fly"? No way! They practice for hours and hours every day!

"People who write about spring training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." - Sandy Koufax

You have to do what you love every day. So I go into my lessons with great joy and a sense of expansion. I love putting what I've learned into practice at auditions and in performances. What we learn nurtures us and gives us fuel to move forward in all areas of our life.

Enjoy your lessons!

No comments: