May 18, 2018 Written by Ayushi Acting Theory
What can you expect at the first acting lesson? You may have had a small role in the ensemble of a high school musical or community theatre production. You may have zero experience whatsoever and feel like you’re taking a bit of a risk with this investment for your future. Either way, you probably will be nervous and feel somewhat vulnerable on the first day. That is a good thing! Regardless of the specific technique, acting is all about accessing different human emotions and relating to others based on shared experience. An actor is constantly putting himself or herself in vulnerable situations for an entire audience to see.
You might take a private acting lesson or feel more comfortable taking a group class. Regardless, you will be exposed to a bunch of different acting exercises and “games” that will seem awkward at first, but will gradually grow on you until you are not only comfortable with them but looking forward to participating in them! An actor’s major tool is the body, and anyone interested in getting into acting will need to have complete control over everything their voice and body does. To do that, most lessons typically begin with physical exercises of some sort.
Since almost all plays, musicals, movies, and TV shows (unless you are playing a character in a coma on a soap opera) require movement, you have to be very aware of how your body works. Leg stretches, shoulder rolls, and maybe even some jumping jacks to get the blood flowing will make an appearance. The goal is to eliminate any tension your body is holding onto as much as possible. Doing so will allow you to easily engage when on stage.
Now, we enter into the more “awkward” aspects of a lesson: preparation exercises and improvisation. Acting exercises and theatre games such as “zip zap” keep actors (in a group setting) on their toes as they have to maintain their focus and attention. While the activity may seem ridiculous at first (shouting nonsense words while making unusual gestures), this leads you to develop basic acting skills such as the famous “living in the moment.” Additionally, improve games (anything from “Whose Line Is It Anyway”) will keep you on your toes as you further fine-tune important skills like paying attention, maintaining eye contact, and working together while you start to develop and craft characters, however profound they may or may not be.
Eventually, the more lessons you attend and the more advanced you become, you will tackle monologues, scenes, and perhaps even put on a full-length performance to help gain experience on your quest to getting into acting. Depending on your level and particular needs, you may venture into audition preparation and go over ways to carry yourself and present a headshot, in addition to nailing cold readings. The best teacher is real-world experience, and acting lessons will provide you with what you need to make the most out of those experiences!