Anyone I’ve ever known, including myself, who’s taken any kind of acting class: whether it be a performance class, a public speaking class, an audition class, cold reading class, or an improv class, has always said it was the best thing they ever did. You might include in this category, classes in: any type of dance, hip hop, ballet, elocution lessons, even general movement classes such as Feldenkrais, Yoga, or Alexander Technique.
Taking an acting class helps you open up in ways you never thought possible, and it’s my opinion, that everyone, at one time or another in life, should be required to take an acting class. Let’s face it, in business, sales, politics, and teaching, most people act at one time or another. Why not actually learn some short cuts to make it all easier?
Learning the art of theater and drama, with a focus on public performance, also gives you self esteem and poise. It can help you understand things about yourself that nothing else, besides maybe years of therapy, can. Taking acting classes will help you in business situations, in job interviews, even in personal relationships in both public and private.
What so many people fail to realize is that acting classes do more than make you jump around the room and speak in funny voices. They help you to understand the dynamics of communication and conversation, and the motives behind what people say and do in every day life. Learning to analyze a script, or come up with an interesting character or monologue, will help you understand why a person may act a certain way, and what’s behind the actual words they are speaking.
One of the most important focuses, for any performer, is understanding the WHY, or the MOTIVATION behind what someone choses to say or do. When an actor learns to break down a scene, or a monologue in a script (and this is true for contemporary scenes, or even scenes in Shakespeare or Greek Drama) -- he is learning to break down what a character really wishes would happen in his life. And he learns what OBSTACLES this character faces in each scene to get what he wants. Then he or she will figure out what this character is doing, or not doing, saying, or not saying, in each scene to get what he wants.
For example: In a love scene, one character may be afraid of losing the love of the other character -- a man feels afraid his wife doesn’t love him. He may actually WANT her to love him, but his fear overpowers his desire for love, and so he mistreats her, he fights with her, maybe even beats her. But with the help of a good acting teacher, the actor playing this young male character, may learn to understand that behind the superficial first choice of playing “Anger” or “Rage” -- that perhaps, this character is really afraid, and that his motivation is not “to hurt” or “to belittle” his wife, but actually, “to love her”.
In a good acting class, you will learn to break down the dynamics of human communication, and learn to deal with issues of fear, love, trust, and mistrust, and how these four human emotions can and do motivate just about every action and reaction in a dramatic piece of writing. As a result, you, the acting student, begin to hone your own ability to break down the WHYS and HOWS of situations.
Learning these skills can be invaluable in your own life, in a million different ways -- and not just in a touchy, feely kind of, self help way, but also to teach you how to be more powerful. As, say, a young woman in business, if you are better able to understand WHY your boss is treating you or someone else a particular way, this could end up helping you get ahead. Being able to READ people better, empathize with their problems, fears, and longings, and communicate with them more deeply, will help to make you a more successful person. And let’s face it, learning how to let go of your own fears, such as a fear of public speaking, is a good thing for anyone in today’s crazy, hectic world. It might also help you grow.