Child and teen actors, we’re here to teach you the essential skills of acting so that you can live your dream. This is our singular intention in everything we say and do. But everyone has to begin somewhere, and today we’ll start with the key to all of your acting, the heart of what every great actor is doing: attention.
Every actor must develop their ability to give their attention fully to the other actor. This must happen without effort in every moment yet there is something working against you. It’s a powerful force and it’s strengthening in you as the very thing that goes against your desire to become a great actor.
Today is the time for you to take action or the skills you need to master will never be fulfilled. We say today because it has been our experience that many people just like you have a dream and a strong desire to do something wonderful in this life. They think about it and they talk about it, but they never actually do anything about it. Then, years later, they express a deep regret that they never lived their dream. Rather than get to that point, we like to promote the idea of urgency and action. The best, most important time to act is right now.
Like 95 percent of all people, you love your phone. We know the little screens have become an intrinsic part of the fabric of modern life. They offer many wonderful ways to communicate but in the end, face-to-face contact becomes almost obsolete. It’s true the technology helps you connect, but it does not help you cultivate deep, meaningful relationships in your life…and your acting.
Kids and teens spend so much time in the virtual world that they often lose the ability to be aware of human behavior. But if you’re serious about acting, you also know that human connection is the very basis of the art. How we behave, communicate, feel about each other, what we do to mask our feelings, cover up, avoid, sing for joy, cry in despair, leap in triumph…all of it!
So let’s begin simply and start with a return to listening. Yes, listen to each other. Give another person your complete attention. Put the phone aside and really make contact. Does the mere thought of this bring up anxiety and discomfort? Terrific! This is where the magic in acting begins: in the silence and waiting for something to happen. We want you to really feel what you’re feeling, whether it’s boredom, elation, or just time passing. All of it is ok, everything that’s really happening is ok if you can permit yourself to experience it and not judge it.
Here’s an exercise we invite you to do. Put away your phone for a day, or start with just an afternoon. Talk to your friends, family, and teachers. Ask them how they’re doing. Share how you’re doing. Really look and listen to each other.
Denise Simon is a New York-based acting coach. Backstage Expert, and author of “Parenting in the Spotlight: How to raise a child star without screwing them up.” For more information, check out Simon’s full bio! Master your craft, empower yourself, enjoy the journey.
Larry Silverberg is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Sanford Meisner technique of acting and an internationally acclaimed author. His newest book, “Winning Your Acting Auditions,” features 50 original monologues written for high school and college actors. In addition to being one of the most published acting coaches in the world and an award-winning actor/director, Larry is also the Master Teacher of Acting and Full Professor at renowned Shenandoah University Conservatory of Theatre.
This article is reposted here with permission from Backstage.com.