Monday, December 8, 2014

Are Actors Born or Made?

Acting is often seen as an innate talent, as something inherent or intangible, which has more to do with an actor’s genes rather than training. If that is the case, what then, is the need for trained actors, acting teachers, methodologies and acting classes?

Acting is a craft just like any other performance-based skill such as singing, dancing and to some extent sports and athletic activities. A singer or dancer has to learn the craft and keep working on the skills to improve. Why should acting be any different?

Let’s take a look at some of the skills that an actor has to build to move forward in the world of acting.

“Inner workings” such as thoughts, emotions, feelings and imagination that an actor is required to draw upon to perform whether on stage, the street or on screen is a critical skill. Can a person be taught how to think, imagine, feel or emote? Perhaps not. However, thinking can be nurtured, feelings can be brought out and imagination can be enhanced.

A good acting teacher or mentor will not tell students to see through his eyes or tell them what to see. But a teacher can and should enable students to open their eyes and see, to live in the moment, to enhance their imagination, to observe life and characters from their surroundings.

The field of acting requires many such “skillsets” that a student must build and hone:
1.     Optimal use of voice, its projection and modulation
2.     Body posture
3.     Action and reaction among actors
4.     Precise movements to be made for stage and screen (in front of camera)
5.      Memorization of dialogues and scripts
6.     Improvement of listening skills
7.     Taking direction from directors and technicians

Skills, training and talent will only take you so far. Actors must also have enough confidence to go through the challenges of an actor’s life. The rollercoaster of hectic work schedules, too much work and sometimes no work at all. Being judged and evaluated constantly. Frequently facing rejection, yet not letting it dampen their spirits. Actors also have to manage the stress of living in the limelight, where every minute action is scrutinized and judged.

To succeed, it is essential for an actor to be motivated internally as well as externally and make his/her presence felt while enacting different roles and characters. In all of this, there is definitely a need for a mentor, coach, guide, facilitator and a friend.

An acting teacher has the onus of fulfilling this role fully or partially and must motivate and keep the flame of passion and dream for acting alive!