Why do I teach?

Or a better question: why do I continue to teach?

[Editor's spoiler: It's about the student.]

The answer is simple: I have to.  It’s in my genes.  Here is a short “teaching” autobiography.

When I was thirteen and taking dance class my teacher saw me helping a younger child with the opening routine in her beginning class.  Continue reading

It’s Off to Work We Go

By Adam Hill

Recently I had the guilty pleasure of viewing, for the first time in many years, Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  What a delightful experience.

I especially got a kick out of the seven little men and their joy of life.  In particular was their daily march off to work.  They sang as they strutted through the forest “Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it’s off to work we go!”  Arriving at the mine wasn’t the end of their enjoyment only the beginning.  While there they “whistled while they worked.”

Acting is work.  It is a job.  It is true that acting is an art, but who ever said that art wasn’t work?

For those of you interested in a career in acting, it is important to remember this.  Acting Continue reading

Know Thyself: How to Maximize Your Training

By Joy Farmer-Clary

One of the simplest and most profound ideas from the great Greek philosophers is from Socrates, who recommended that we “Know thyself.”  What phenomenal advice for us actors!

Knowing thyself is useful on many levels: we need to study our physical and vocal instruments, analyze our thoughts and feelings, and attempt to understand our motivations in our own lives.  Only in this way can we fully craft the complex lives of the characters whose stories we tell.

Unfortunately, many actors fail to apply knowing themselves to getting the most out of their training.

Let’s face it, training is expensive. When you are spending precious time and money on your training, how do you ensure that you are getting the maximum benefit from it?  Know thyself.

Continue reading

Hitting the Brick Wall

I remember all too well the moment in my career when I seemed to have slammed into a professional brick wall.  It was more than uncomfortable, it was debilitating.

What I also remember was my survival instinct took over.  I loved my craft and refused to sacrifice myself on the altar of failure.  What did I do?

First I gave myself a week to indulge in all my negative feelings.  I wallowed in self pity.  I enjoyed this self indulgence primarily because I knew that at the end of the allotted week I would be denying all this feelings.

The beginning of the second week I asked myself the following questions:

What about my career was working?

What about my career wasn’t working?

What is it I need to do to make it work?

I then asked myself the most difficult question:

Am I content with my level of craft?

And, if not, why aren’t I doing something to increase my expertise?

I got a part time job as a bartender to pay for some new classes and enrolled with a teacher who I believed would support me in the areas I needed to grow.  In other words, I decided to strengthen my weaknesses.  It was during the second month of this incredible experience that I auditioned for and got a Broadway show.

During this same period, I changed representation and became more active in my career.  I got off my butt and became more active, more than any agent or manager could be, in my career.  I became current on everything happening in my business.  I told my new agent what was casting.  I sent out pictures and resumes.  I included a note that said I was sure my agent had submitted my picture, but in case it was lost in the mail, here was another. I wrote that I believed in their project and that a role in their production was worth fighting for.

My short message here is – do something.  I didn’t ignore my feelings.  I gave them their due.  Then I dug deeper, to what my true feelings were, and honored them.

From a strictly selfish point of view – I do not want to be deprived of your talent.  So for my sake, do something.

Opposites Do NOT Attract

Too many actors get together to complain about their careers, the state of the business,  how much they hate their “bread-and-butter jobs”.  If you don’t believe this drains you of a positive self image you are greatly mistaken.

It’s people of like mind that attract each other.  If you find all your friends wallowing in gloom and doom, know that it was you who attracted them into your life.

Make new friends.  This idea that opposites attract is nonsense.  Continue reading

Fear of Falling: Acting Lessons from Rock Climbers

A friend of mine (thanks Ben!) recently told me about a rock climbing coach who teaches that when you are in the gym on a rock-climbing wall, you have to fall.  Especially if you are afraid of it.  Having a fear of falling dictates your technique.

I immediately thought of actors as I am constantly encouraging them to take risks…so I found the post…

The language (by Dave MacLeod, link to the post here) is very technical in relation to rock climbing, but struck me as very relevant to the actor.  He writes: