Learning what it takes for you to always be at your best and ready to deliver is one of the most important lessons for an actor to learn.
You never know when and where you’re going to get your shot, so your time needs to be spent preparing, not waiting. If you ask 100 working actors how they got where they are, you’ll get a wide variety of answers. For most, it started with an audition, but no matter how their opportunities presented themselves, they were READY.
Here are 3 things you can do to make sure you’re ready to audition and ready to work:
TAKE A CLASS
I’m a teacher, so, yes I think this is an important way to stay sharp! But, I’m also a student and take many classes myself. I see how powerfully they guide me and how I count on them to keep me focused and at my best.
A good class should remind you of why you wanted to act in the first place. It should encourage and uplift you and leave you better than when you started it.
Acting is a heart and body centered art form and an open heart and acute body awareness is essential to your success in connecting to your work and to the audience. A good acting class should care about your heart and enliven the body.
Class is also a great way connect with your peers. It’s easy to feel alone on this path and being with others who are striving to be the best they can be is a wonderfully supportive thing to do.
Also ask around and be sure the teacher of the class isn’t someone who thinks they have the answer and loves nothing better than hearing their own voice tell you the truth. There is no one answer on how to act or audition, a good teacher knows this and will have the skill, through whatever technique they teach, to guide you to your answers and help you find your truth.
EXERCISE YOUR IMAGINATION
It’s easy to get stuck in the habit of putting your head down and bull dozing through the tasks of your days, with little recognition of what is going on around you. This is death to the artist. Here’s a fun exercise to try to keep the tools of awareness and imagination sharp, so that you’re always alive and energized.
Get out of your house. Go to a park, café, or anywhere you can sit and observe. Now, choose a person and really watch them – notice the details of what they’re wearing, their hair, the pitch of their voice, their laugh. Imagine where they would live. House or apartment? How is it furnished? Do they have a lot of dishes or just one or two? Are there pictures of people in the living room? If so, who are they? Pets? What job does this person have? Do they like it? What kind of money do they make? Are they comfortable or do they need more? Are they lonely or do they want more time alone? What do they long for? Ask as many questions as you can think of to make that person come alive for you in a specific, real and heart-felt way.
Repeat this exercise until your eyes and ears are razor sharp from observing, and your body and heart are fully awake and engaged.
Use this exercise to re-connect with your internal and external world. You will vibrate with an awareness and energy that will brighten your work and lift it to a higher level.
No matter what is happening in your life or how hectic your survival job, every actor should set aside at least one hour a day to feed their creative souls. The activity is up to you and should be based on what you need that particular day: rehearse a scene, prepare a set of sides as if you had an audition that afternoon, watch an interview with an actor you love, read. Life is busy and sometimes it’s hard to find time, I know because I do this as well. I am a teacher and even on days that I teach and coach, I take my hour or so and hone the exercises I teach, create new ones, meditate, talk to casting directors or whatever wakes me up to the joy of my profession on that day. I never miss a day and you shouldn’t either – this is your creative life we’re talking about here!
Ultimately, you want to gain control of your life to the extent that you are living as an artist 24/7, so there’s a lot more to it than just these three steps, but they’re a good start. I actually teach an entire course on living as an artist because I’ve seen again and again how intertwined the life and the work of the actor are.
So take good care of the now, after all, the present moment is the only moment you can control. But, if you spend it waking up to your life and your work in a truly committed way, you’ll be more than ready when your time comes.
Craig Wallace’s background in script development combined with his 16 years of coaching actors enables him to find the job getting moments that others miss. His expertise in breaking down text and years of coaching experience has made him “L.A.’s go to private coach.” Sign up for his group or private classes at wallaceauditiontechnique.com