When Actors Hate Class...
In the eighteen years I have been teaching, all kinds of people have walked through the door. All of them want to be good actors, for reasons specific to each individual.
Some reasons are noble.
Some are not.
Some are honest.
Some are not.
Some are foolish.
Others are the foundation upon which action is built.
And in Hollywood no one’s ever going to tell you you can’t do it because it would cancel an industry that’s built on hope. That’s the cynical (but true) reason. The other, is that no one’s qualified to determine whose dream has merit and whose is merely self-serving folly or misguided ego-driven spiritual emptiness.
But, I digress…
Actors have many of the same complaints about acting classes. Some of which I’m probably guilty of. So this week we’ll look at some pet peeves that actors have about acting teachers..
Here are some thoughts and comments from the actors I spoke with:
THINGS ACTORS HATE ABOUT ACTING CLASS/TEACHERS
1. You don’t get up that often
“They would overstock the class and you didn’t get any real stage time. I’m paying to act. Not to watch other people act or listen to you talk.”
“You don’t actually get to do the scene again or work on it. Don’t you want to see the notes in action?”
2. Keeping people in class with false praise/criticism
“ I hate it when teachers will pump someone up, make them feel good instead of calling them out on their bullshit. They’re lying and we all know it. Pretending it’s all a part of being supportive is an excuse to not be tough and fair”.
“Hammering away at me is not the way to get me to do better. And like, always finding fault so you never “get good enough to leave” is also transparent and not helpful”
3. Watching bad actors; seeing them get notes that don’t address their inability to be authentic
“teachers who lack the confidence or skill to address what’s really going on and instead focus on some incidental part of the performance and make it more important than it is.”
4. Teachers who talk about all the celebrities they teach
“Like I’m interested AF. No one cares. Your stories just remind me of how far away I am from where I want to be. Stop being a fame whore”
5. Teachers who make actors talk about their personal lives in attempt to address blocks they may have in their process
“This isn’t therapy. I don’t want to hear about anyone’s problems even if they are valid”.
“Not the time or place for you to get into someone’s head.”
“How about working on my characters emotional life and staying out of mine?”
6. When the teacher is working through some latent frustration of never being an actor
“I can’t even…”
7. Sucking up to actors who are on shows
“He’s not that good. You make me feel like I can’t trust your opinion”
“So, you only value success and not the process?”
8. When the teachers ego is the most important thing
“One teacher had us play music and clap when she walked in the room.”
“I felt like the class was just so she felt like she had friends”
“One guy kept insisting it “wasn’t about him” but he was all he would talk about. Every note he used something from his own career as an example”
9. When a teacher acts as if they know the only way to approach a scene vs helping you figure out what works and what doesn’t
“If I have to hear about her “technique” one more time…”
“It’s like he thinks he discovered acting and you only get praise of you agree with him.
10. Beware acting teachers who are life coaches – or want to be!
“I just want to be a better actor. Please don’t tell me “there are areas in my life I need to look at”.
“Every scene some actor had a problem that could only be solved by attending her Healing Workshop, or whatever. Super cult vibe”
“It’s so hard to find a place that’s legit. So many people just want to take your money. And keep taking it.”
There we go. Just a few things to look out for as you travel the road of happy destiny. The love of acting and your creative life are special cargo. Fragile and shy under the best of circumstances and so easily corrupted and co-opted by those who only wish to satisfy themselves.
That being said, there are many, many, many, wonderful classes and teachers out there. I am happy to recommend some to you if you like. Ask around. Audit. Talk to other actors. Study with different teachers. Demand everyone do their best. And if they don’t, keep looking. This is the greatest concentration of talent and creativity on earth. If you look, I promise you can find a home.
Next week: Top Ten Pet Peeves of Acting Teachers