Why Everyone Should Take An Acting Class - Part 2

There’s something about going to an acting class that really helps you, as a person, understand that you are not alone. Having to get up in front of a group of people, and really let go, really show all your sides, good, bad, and ugly, learning to scream, and open up, to laugh hysterically at yourself and others, and just having to be a kid once again -- all of this helps to not only loosen you up as an adult, it also helps you to be more creative.

Scientific study has shown, in the last several years, that if you do not use your memory, or your brain to learn something new, then those synapses in that part of your brain,

where those new things would be stored, and then brought back as memories -- die. They calcify and become immobile. This is a terrifying thought!

For many years, when I was an acting student in Los Angeles, myself, I was lucky to take a movement class called: Feldenkrais Technique, from a gifted teacher named Pam Clark. Pam had been the president of the National Feldenkrais Association, I think it’s called, and she knew her stuff! The basis of this study is to make your brain and body open up new neuro pathways that will lead to a more open consciousness and new way of moving, and as a result, open up your brain to more possible ways of thinking (and seeing, and feeling!)

Feldenkrais experts work all over the world to help people like Christopher Reeves, learn to move frozen limbs, or to talk, or walk again. People who’ve had catastrophic brain injuries, accidents, or stokes, actually do retrain their brains, through subtle body movements, guided thoughts, and sounds; and many DO often get better! Well, if something as simple as moving your hand back and forth for an hour, while moving your eyes side to side, and breathing in and out, can help to open up new pathways in your brain, think what something as NOT so subtle as, say, improvisation?, or acting out a dramatic scene? -- could do for your brain! This could change your life!

If you are someone who is afraid to get up in front of a group and speak, who wants to open up more in your personal relationships, or even, to yourself, then give yourself a gift. Take an acting class. Don’t be afraid either. Just take a chance, and let everyone there know how scared you are. Acting classes should be safe havens for those of us who have fears -- after all, we’re not ALL able to run up and perform. We LEARN those skills, after years of practice. And you will also find, that many of the best actors in the world, are the most shy people you’ll ever meet. They act as a way to get around their fears, and their courage should inspire us all.

I have so many examples of people I’ve met in acting classes who weren’t actors, whose courage totally inspired me: the Middle Aged Lawyer who just wanted to learn some relaxation and breathing techniques to help him when he’d get nervous in front of a jury during a big trial; the Surgeon who felt she was too serious all of the time, and wanted to have a hobby that was fun; the Mother of three, who wanted to learn how to communicate better with her kids, how to play again. I even met a Corporate VP of Sales who had just gotten nominated for salesman of the year, and was nervous, because he had to get up in front of 1000 people at his annual sales meeting, to give a five minute speech. All of these people showed such courage and commitment, and growth throughout the class. They inspired each and every professional actor there, too. And the young Mom? She was a natural, and went out a year later and booked a Soap Opera! You never know.

Maybe you have courage you never knew existed? Have you ever wondered if you did? I bet you do! Why don’t you give an acting class a try? It might be the most fun and inspiring thing you’ve done in years!

Kirsten Tretbar's Picture

About Kirsten Tretbar

Kirsten Tretbar is an acting teacher, filmmaker, and former actress. She received her MFA in Acting from USC in Los Angeles, where she acted professionally for many years.

Los Angeles + Kansas City http://theactingroom.com

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