TIPS FOR MEMORIZING YOUR LINES!

So you  say you want to be an Actor, but you hate memorizing lines? 

The memorization process can be worse than pulling out teeth for some, and for others it’s just plain scary. When I was an actor, I used to fear that the moment I would go on stage, I would blank out and forget all my lines. However, I never did.

So… before you get all worried that acting is not for you because of your troubles with memorization, fear not, as I have provided some tips below that could help you.

As a director and acting coach, I will tell you this: Memorization is not something to take lightly.  It is part of your job and in order to fully experience stepping into the role of a character, your lines must be 110% memorized.  That’s right, 110%.  Meaning, you should not know your lines pretty well, and almost perfectly, but instead they must be ingrained in your mind where you no longer have to think about them.  I always tell my actors that they should know their lines as well as they know the Alphabet Song:  “A, B, C, D, E, F, G…”

When I direct my plays, I give my actors a date where I expect them to be Off Book”- which means all lines must be memorized and scripts are out of their hands.  If they cannot meet that date, then the actor and I will have a problem.  I find the actor who shows up On Book, unprofessional!  To me, memorization is part of their job, and in order to fully be in the scene they are performing in, they cannot be concerned about remembering a line!

Memorization is not only a problem for actors who have no experience or are just beginning their careers.  Seasoned working actors also have trouble memorizing their lines.  But luckily, there are things an actor can do to help with this important process.

Here are some TIPS to HELP YOU WITH MEMORIZATION:

  1. MEMORIZE YOUR LINES FLAT, WITHOUT EMOTION:                                             The moment your memorize your lines the way that you think you should say them, it will be very hard for you to unlearn them any other way.  So memorize them flat.  To do this, I tell my actors to learn their lines the following way:

a.  ROBOTIC say the lines as if you are a robot.

b.  ITALIAN RUN- say your lines so fast, on speed, without any pauses.

c.  WITH MOVEMENT Do jumping jacks while saying your lines without any emotion at all.

Memorizing you lines without emotion will allow you to be fresh and react to your scene partner without looking or sounding rehearsed.  Your lines will be new every time you say them, instead of memorized one way that you cannot undo.

2. BREAK YOUR LINES INTO WORKABLE SECTIONS:                                                           It is impossible to learn all your lines at once, or at least it is much more difficult to do so.  Therefore, break your lines into sections.  Give yourself a deadline where each section must be memorized. Do not move on to the next section until you have completely memorized the one you were working on.  I actually color code my sections and encourage my actors to do so too.  I even have them give each section a title to summarize what it is about.  This helps them remember the lines once they know the main idea and motivation for them.

3.  HAVE A FRIEND TEST YOU:                                                                                                          I cannot tell you how many times I worked with an actor where they worked on their lines by themselves, and then forget them as soon as they start working with me.  So I recommend asking a friend to help you memorize your lines.  Give them your script so you cannot look.  Once you forget a line, simply say: “LINE” and have your friend feed it to you.  And every time you make a mistake, your friend can immediately point it out, and then you can redo the line until you get it right.

4.  WRITE OUT YOUR LINES.                                                                                           Writing out your lines several times is a great way to help you memorize them.  Keep writing them until they are perfect.

5.  MOVE WHILE YOUR MEMORIZE:                                                                                        Do an activity such as cleaning your house, or jumping jacks. Not only will this help you memorize your lines, but when you start rehearsing you will not freeze the moment you add movement.

6.  REPEAT, PRACTICE, REPEAT and PRACTICE:                                                                        You must be willing to repeat your lines and go over them any chance you get.  Practice makes perfect and knowing your lines requires you to constantly repeat them.  When I direct a play, I require my cast to speed thru lines together prior to every performance.

7.  RECORD YOUR LINES                                                                                                               If you are an auditory learner, recording your lines is helpful because then you can listen to them over and over again.

Here are some of the best apps now available to actors with smart phones and tablets that can assist your with MEMORIZATION:

1.  The Rehearsal 2 app-  (Device: iPhone & iPad)  Price: $19.99                                    “This app allows you to organize your script for auditions and rehearsals. The app has been used professionally by television and film actors, and it’s one of the most powerful rehearsal apps of its kind.  The app allows you to break the script down into scenes, track continuity and create reports. You can also use it to plan your blocking, shots and storyboards to discuss them with the director. Finally, the app allows you to record your voice and email the performance, making voice acting interviews a breeze.” 

2.  My Lines– (Device: iPhone & iPad) Price: $9.99                                                            “Whether you’re practicing on your own or soliciting the help of a friend or costar, My Lines can help make memorizing your lines easy.  This tool organizes the script in a way that will highlight your lines separately from those of the rest of the cast, to make it easy to keep track of your part. You can also easily place bookmarks and have your lines read to you through audio recordings.”

3.  Scene Partner (Device: iOS)  Price: $4.99 (or free with ads)                                    “There are numerous line memorization apps out there, but Scene Partner is a fine balance between price and effectiveness (particularly if the aforementioned Rehearsal 2, at $20, is a stretch out of budget). Even supports the ability to upload your own scripts and rent other big titles.

If you are interested in seeking my acting services, free group online acting classes and playwriting class, contact me at theperformingartscoach@gmail.com

You can also visit my website at www.theperformingartscoach.com 

Here is a link to video that explains more ABOUT ME:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CxsX7v944Q 

 

RECOMMENDED CASTING SITES TO FIND YOUR NEXT ACTING JOB!

BEGINNING ACTORS…LISTEN UP!

“What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.”  ARISTOTLE  IMG_9017

I have worked with many different types of actors: ages 3-80, from those just starting to those who have made acting their full time career.

And here is one thing I have learned:

Those who are working actors are actively looking for jobs.

A question I receive all the time from my newbies is this:

Do I have to have an agent in order to book work?

And my answer is NO.  There is no need for a new actor to waste time looking for representation when there are many different sites out there to self submit and look for work.  It is very hard to find an agent without a resume with credits on it.  I always tell my beginners to build their resume and go out on as many auditions as possible.

“Action is eloquence.”  WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE  IMG_9016

Want to start self submitting?  Here are the sites I recommend starting on:

 

 

If you need help finding the right photographer for your headshots, or need assistance building your resume, contact me at theperformingartscoach@gmail.com

And if you want a great book about AUDITIONING, then I recommend purchasing a IMG_9018copy of “AUDITION” by Michael Shurtleff.  This is a must have book for every actor.  https://www.amazon.com/Audition-Michael-Shurtleff/dp/0553272950/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491225427&sr=8-1&keywords=audition+michael+shurtleff

FINISH THAT TASK!

How to become a finisher…  IMG_8898

Are you known for starting a project and than not completing it?

JOIN THE CLUB OF PROCRASTINATORS!

Why does this happen?  Why are so many of us eager to start something new, excited by the opportunity of it all, and than actually never finish it out to the end?

IMG_8902Nearly a quarter of adults around the world are chronic procrastinators, according to research conducted by Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University and author of the book Still Procrastinating: The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done.”( Jane Porter- fastcompany.com)

I am an acting coach.  I give assignments to my clients who say they want to be actors.  I then meet with them once a week.  I find that many of them do some of the work, and a few do none of it at all.  There are a handful of clients who do everything, exactly as I asked, but that is rare! Many of my clients do their version of how they want to complete my assignments.  If I asked them to write out their assignments, perhaps the task did not suit them.  So instead, they tell me what they would have written.  They do IT their way, not MY way!  The task is incomplete!  Yet, if the assignment was done properly, it would be a step towards their goal of being a working actor.  I know what it takes to be one.  I have started many successful careers.  It takes time, discipline, hard work and commitment!  So, my clients and I spend more time talking about their desire to be an actor, than actually rehearsing and working on the lines they should have memorized.  Many who become frustrated by the reality of the work they have to do, get stuck, quit for a while and then come back months later when their dream of being an actor haunts them again.  IMG_8899

So, I got interested in why this happens.

What is going on here?  Why are so many of us not finishing what we said we would?

And this what I discovered…

FALLING IN LOVE and STARTING A NEW PROJECT are very similar in nature.

Freud says:  “We are never so vulnerable as when we love.” 

When we fall in love with someone, we get lost in our own feelings of excitement, lust, hope, and the whole newness of it all.  My new clients are the same when they begin their acting journey.  But then… when reality hits, and we realize that person we are falling in love with has some obstacles and challenges we were not aware of, it is no longer as exciting.  Our romantic high has fallen into a big dose of reality!  The same holds true for my new clients.  Once they see what it takes, what they have to do and the time they need to spend doing it, the glamour and allure of being an actor fades to the reality ahead.

IMG_8901This is how I instruct my clients who are falling in love with acting without a floor to stand on.  (Notice we call it falling- not standing in love)   We need to be grounded when starting a new project, not floating in a lustful state of hope!

HERE IS HOW YOU CAN BECOME A FINISHER (and actually do what you say you want to do)

  1. CREATE A DEADLINE:   To do this, you need to be organized.  Don’t skip this part.  Write down every little thing you need to do to get your project done.  (If you are learning a monologue, write down all the steps involved in doing this.  How will you complete your character development, script analysis, lines, wardrobe, etc….)  Then, on a calendar, mark out specifically when each task needs to be done by.  Deadlines will keep you on track, but you alone are responsible for honoring them!  If you don’t do the tasks and miss your deadlines, then ask yourself this:  What is it that I am up to in life?    Hopefully, your answer to that question will put you right back on track.  Life is short, so lets start DOING!

2.   BE YOUR WORD:  The only way we relate to each other is through our WORD!  If you say you are going to do something, then be your word and do it!  If you don’t, the world will relate to you as someone who is not committed, serious, or reliable.  Same thing when we are falling in love. When Cupid A tells Cupid B she will call and doesn’t, Cupid B no longer trusts Cupid A’s commitment to her word. This is when the falling in love phase turns a corner.  A lack of integrity has entered and the relationship is no longer one big romantic high.  Fear, avoidance and a lack connection enter as a result!  No one is flying high anymore!  ISN’T IT UNROMANTIC!

3.   Don’t worry about being PERFECT:  For all you perfectionists out there who get caught up in all the details of a project and cannot possibly finish them all perfectly, who cares!  No one needs the project to be perfect! We need it done!  There is time to get it right afterwards, but get it done first!  IMG_8900

4.  CELEBRATE:  If you have come far in your project, take time to recognize yourself and celebrate!  The act of celebrating your hard work will make you want to work harder, I promise.

Want help organizing your dream?  Contact me and we can have a free consultation!

5 WAYS TO GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD and STOP OVERTHINKING!

“It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not.”Denis Waitley.

Overthinking is the actor’s enemy! 

This post was inspired by one of my beginner clients.  She is an incredible talent who is beautiful, exciting, inspirational and eager to start her career in acting.  About a week ago when we were working on her monologue, I noticed she just would not get through the part we were focusing on.  She would stop, second guess herself and question whether or not she was doing it right.  When she did try a few lines, she would then break to criticize her performance.    IMG_8743

Most beginning actors fear!  I have seen this a lot of times. Ashamed before they even begin their monologue, improv or scene, the overthinking actor does not realize that they are sabotaging their dream by turning away from it and letting their heads take over!  I think most who quit trying to be an actor early on were overthinking why they even began in the first place!

But don’t kid yourself, overthinking is not just a problem for beginning actors.  I have worked with a lot of seasoned actors who also will  find themselves from time to time punching their heads because of all that thinking, thinking and thinking they are doing.

What Should Actors Do If They Are Stuck In Their Heads & Overthinking…Everything?

Sanford Meisner said, “It’s all right to be wrong, but it’s not all right not to try.”

Here are 5 Tips For All Us Overthinkers!

1.  WRITE:  I read a fabulous book by Julia Cameron called: THE ARTIST’S WAY.  One of the tasks she has you do for the 12 week plan she created is a writing exercise called:  MORNING PAGES.   IMG_8745

“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*–they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow”  ~Julia Cameron live

2.  JUST DO IT!  Whatever it is you are overthinking, acknowledge that your mind is preventing you from doing what you say you want to do.  So, just do it! And yes, you may mess up and not do it perfectly, but who needs perfection anyway.  I don’t want to watch perfect actors.  I want to watch real people doing!

3.  WORK ON YOUR OBSERVATION SKILLS!  People who are insecure, worried about how they will appear to others, or simply in their head and overthinking every choice they make, can benefit from observation.  And I don’t mean observing themselves, but the world around them.  Observe your surroundings, the people you are interacting with, the trees you walk by.  You can ignore all that noise and clutter in your head by becoming aware of what is around you.

4. WORD REPETITION EXERCISES:  Sanford Meisner developed several acting exercises to help actors be in the moment and real on stage. One of them was called REPETITION.  Word Repetition Game:  This is how you play:

Two actors stand face to face. Actor A starts the repetition by saying something that he/she observes about the other actor physically (for example, “you’re tall”). Actor B responds by repeating exactly the words he/she hears (“you’re tall”). Both A & B repeat the line over and over- back and forth.  The trick is to not try to be interesting or say the lines dramatically.  You also cannot pause in-between the repeating.  The goal is to simply listen to the other actor.  And in doing so, you will take the focus off of yourself.  This will allow you to say goodbye to your overthinking, as you won’t have time to think, because you are simply just repeating.

The next level of the exercise is to repeat the lines from each actor’s point of view…

Actor A:  ”You’re tall.”

Actor B: ”I’m tall?”

Actor A: ”You’re tall.”

Actor B: ”I’m tall?”

When an actor picks up a cue from his partner and feels a true impulse to make a new observation, he does so.

Actor A:”You look confused.”

Actor B: ”I look confused?”

Actor A: ”You look confused.”

Actor B:  ”I look confused?”

and so on and so on…..   IMG_8744

5.  RELAXATION EXERCISES:    These exercises are great in order  to help clear your mind so that you can be more focused.  I always find once my clients complete a relaxation exercise, their nerves decrease and they are more available to free their imagination and play within a performance.

Try this simple, yet effective one that focuses on your breath!

Sit forward in a chair and let your stomach muscles relax.

• Breathe in through your nose and imagine that you are a vessel filling up with air as you would pour water into a vase. …

• Hold this breath for a count of ten.

• Now exhale slowly. …

• Repeat.

Let me know if these tips have helped you control your overthinking!

The 89th Annual ACADEMY AWARDS

Last night’s Oscars was more eventful then ever!    img_8415

And the Oscar goes to…

LA LA LAND!  …  well at least we thought it did, for a minute!

Hopefully, when you receive your Oscar, The Academy will have their act together and actually read the right name!  How does this happen?  Still feeling badly for the “La La Land” cast and crew when “Moonlight” was announced as the actual winner after “La La Land” thought they got it!  Handing over that award had to be hard!

Emma Stone was one of my favorites all award season, and I was pleased to see her   img_8416receive an award for her impressive performance in “La La Land.” She also won best dressed according to many, as she stunned us by capturing the look of an award winning actress with her gold sparkly Givenchy gown.

What did you think of last night’s event?  Do tell!

And here is an exercise for all you aspiring Oscar Winners:

Imagine you just won The Academy Award!  What category did you win?  Best screenplay?  Best actress?  Best score?  Be specific.  Then, practice delivering your award winning img_8414speech!  Actually create the moment before while you hear your name along with all the other nominees.  Who are the other nominees?  Then, experience your name being read from the envelope.  Who presents you with your Oscar?  What are you wearing?  What is your speech about and who do you thank?  Have fun with this!  

 

NOT READY? DO IT ANYWAY!

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready.  The challenge will not wait.  Life does not look back.”  Paolo Coelho

Artists! Listen up… We make our own schedules, create our own due dates, and take on our own dreams!  We differ from the rest of the 9-5 world, who ready or not, have to wake up and go to work!  Some of us are even part of that 9-5 world, as it supports our dream.

My client the other day was approaching the final performance of her comedic monologue with me.  I texted her the day before, as I normally do, just to confirm her attendance!  Her response was:

Client:  “I’m nor ready at aaaalllll!  Waaaaaaaa?

Me:  Do it anyway!  fullsizerender

We are so rarely ever ready to do what we say we want to do.  Have you ever noticed that?  I want you to consider that although it may be true, you may actually not be ready due to a time conflict and lack of preparation for the task at hand, the phrase “I’m NOT ready” is actually an excuse.  An excuse to avoid NOT being perfect!

I find that most of the time when my clients say: “I am not ready,” they are actually saying I will NOT be perfect!  This is my response:  If you don’t actually do what you say you are going to do, you will possibly be missing out on opportunities to showcase your talents.  My client’s monologue was excellent!  Perfect-no! She forgot to slate, and a few lines were not memorized perfectly, but who cares!  Watching her from my computer screen was riveting.  If this is what she can do when “NOT READY” imagine what she can do when she is “READY!”

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.”  Lemony Snicket, The Ersatz Elevator.

fullsizerender_1Here are Some reasons you may not feel Ready:

  1. NOT ENOUGH TIME!  I get it!  Even when you freed up your schedule, you still do not have enough time or at least the amount time you would like to have for your work.  My answer is:  Do it anyway.  Use the time you have and aim for quality within that time frame.  You have to use what you’ve got!  Have you ever felt you had enough time to do whatever it is you wanted to do?  For me, I am going to say NO.

2.  FEAR of FAILING!  It’s true!  Many of us fear the idea of failing, so we would rather just not do anything at all!  It’s safer to not take a risk, and therefore we hide behind: “I’m NOT ready.”  I try to look at life like this:  If I’m not afraid by anything that I am up to, then perhaps I need to shake up my projects a bit.   I never learned from my successes, as much as I did from my failures.  Failing always seems to be an education I never regret.

3.  LISTENING TO OTHERS!  You might be told by someone else that you have too much on your plate, and if you don’t feel ready, take time until you do!  Ignore that person!  Although they mean well, they have no idea what it takes to be a successful artist- and being a successful artist is a lot like being a successful entrepreneur!  Both the artist and the entrepreneur have to have a genius idea that can change the world!  No one is ever ready to launch that, but they do it anyway.

I will end with a quote I found on fastcompany.com by VIVIAN GIANA, from her blog entry: You’ll Never Be Ready-Why You Should Start Anyway. “The difference between those who start before they are ready and those who wait is that the former knows you won’t know what you can do until you do it.”  img_8261

My client had no idea that she would have been as good as she was until she did it!  We will never be as prepared as we want, and on the rare occasions we do feel prepared, then we just have to appreciate that. But for those other times when we dream of having just one more day or even one more minute, Do It Anyway!

DO YOU NEED TO HAVE NATURAL TALENT TO BE AN ACTOR?

img_8205………If not, then what is it that you need?

“We are told that talent creates its own opportunities.  But it sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents.”   Eric Hoffer

As an acting coach, I am asked this question often:  DO YOU NEED TO HAVE NATURAL TALENT TO BE AN ACTOR? In fact, I was asked this question by a new client last week.

“A lot of times I find that people who are blessed with the most talent don’t ever develop that attitude, and the ones who aren’t blessed in that way are the most competitive and have the biggest heart.”  Tom Bradyfullsizerender_1

When I owned The Magic Mirror Theatre in North Hollywood, California,  I met hundreds of new parents every month coming to LA from all over the country because they felt their child had the talent to become a star!  I hate to admit this, but more often than not, I did not share these parents’ views on their children.  In fact, there were only a few times in the 6 years I owned the theater that I felt a naturally talented young actor was born with a gift!  However, I never let my opinion stop me from teaching and believing in these young transient children aspiring to be on stage or on the big screen.  Why? Well, my reason is simple:  I do believe wanting to be an actor is enough… IF and only IF you are willing to do what it takes to succeed.  

“I believe that every person is born with talent.”  Maya Angelou  fullsizerender

So, my answer to the above question is this:  Natural talent certainly helps, but you still have to do something with it!  Natural talent alone did not make Leondaro DiCaprio who he is today!  He worked and never stopped pursuing what he wanted!

As acting coach Herbert Berghof was known for saying: “Never mind your talent; do you have the determination?”

So are actors born acting or trained to act? I say a little of both! But they will only be fullsizerender_2successful at it if they are committed to developing their talent and mastering the skills needed.

If you are talented, but you miss rehearsals, don’t do your homework, never read plays, scripts, poetry, and brush off your monologue work, etc…then you are guaranteed not to succeed.   Just because acting comes naturally to you, doesn’t guarantee you success. And if acting does not come naturally to you, but you have the passion, discipline and perseverance to go after it anyway, than you have a shot at being successful.

“Talent without working hard is nothing.”   Cristiano Ronaldo

I am going to give you a non acting example…

I am an awful runner!  Not only that, but I don’t have an athletic bone in my body, or at least that was what I thought or was told.  When I was a child, I was very small and timid.  When it came time for gym class, I dreaded the hour.  I would fake any kind of illness, and did it with success.  Luckily, my acting talents helped me, and because I was a good student, teachers did not question these sudden headaches or stomach pains.  So, I got to sit out of gym class, a lot.  But, there were some days I just couldn’t avoid gym and I had to endure the most awful part of the class:  when the teacher chooses two students to be captains. The captains then get to select their teams.  It was a known fact that little Joanne would be chosen last.  I was never even second-last, but always last!  This was humiliating!

“What you lack in talent can be made up with desire, hustle and giving 110 percent all the time.”  Don Zimmer

When I entered my teenage years, I found fitness and became obsessed with the gym!  At the young age of 16, I was going to the gym 5-6 times per week. I was addicted.  I learned quickly that if I showed up, gave a workout my all, and was consistent-I saw results!  And these results were satisfying.  No, they were more than satisfying.  They were exhilarating!  Finally, I had control of an area in my life that always bothered me.  That little girl never chosen in gym class told me I had to be physically great.  I never wanted to experience not being selected for a team again.  I wanted to be told I was extraordinary!

And then running came a long.  I suck at running!  I passed out during the 10 minute one mile run in high school.  So I actually hate running, or at least I thought I did.  Until I joined a class 10 years ago at Equinox gym called Precision Running.  The whole concept of this class is you are on a treadmill with a bunch of other people.  You are told to find a speed that is hard and challenging, but that you can maintain for 1 minute.  Then, through very basic math, you choose a speed below that to start your run.  And then for the next 60 minutes you make very very small little changes until you are finally at the speed you set!  You are given many breaks in between, and you are encouraged to take them to recharge.

After just 3 years of taking this class, I entered a trail race and won 3rd place!  That’s right, the girl who never got chosen to be on a team in her gym class was now placing in races.  And not only that, running has become so a part of my life that my body and mind have experienced amazing changes.  I am running at speeds I never imagined, and I am considered someone who is in excellent shape.  I look back at some of those kids who were chosen to be first on the team in gym class, and I am in awe of how they probably couldn’t even a run a mile anymore.  Not because they were born that way, but because they stopped being determined to.

img_8204
The man in the middle, David Siik, is the creator of the class and my running inspiration!

And don’t think this came easy for me.  When I first started running in that class, I was doing much more walking.  Now I barely slow down my pace during those breaks, but that took time.

I am not a naturally born runner!  But…I am a runner now and I will admit, a pretty great one at that.  Why?  Because I wanted to be, and I continue to want to be.  My passion, consistency, and discipline got me to finally run free and be a good athlete!

My running example can be applied to any area in life you feel propelled to succeed at- writing, cooking, school, dance…whatever….

If you want to be an actor, then make small changes every day.  Find your threshold!  Work by taking small baby steps to get there and you will experience that acting high.  Talent alone cannot win a race!  But action and a desire to win…well, now you’re talking.

Commitment is Freeing!

fullsizerender“Most people fail, not because of lack of desire, but, because of lack of commitment.”         ~Vince Lombardi

The title of this piece:  “Commitment is Freeing,” was a line from a play I wrote called: You Love That I’m NOT Your Wife.”  The play focused on the lives of 10 characters living in Los Angeles, all faced with uncertainty about the choices they were going to make.  This one character, Johnny, could not call the woman he was dating for 9 months his girlfriend.  Yet he wanted her every time he saw her after one of their many breaks.  This couple never changed as they were both committed to remaining stuck.  Nikki was waiting for Johnny to commit to her fully, and Johnny did not know if that was what he wanted.  No actions were ever taken, other then the same old script these two characters lived.  Get back together, have hot sex, break up and hate one another until they start it all over again.  Yes, their relationship was the definition of insanity!fullsizerender_4

“Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality.”  Abraham Lincoln

What is this have to do with your life as an artist?  Why do I bring this topic of COMMITMENT up to start your week?   I do so because so many “aspiring” actors come to me and others coaches excited to begin studying acting.  Notice I say the word “aspiring” in quotes.  Shonda Rhimes, writer of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, says she hates the word “aspiring” actor or writer.  It’s because when you say you are aspiring to do something you don’t actually have any skin in the game, do you?

  “Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans.”

fullsizerender_5Most clients I work with begin telling me that acting was a “dream” they always have had, and now they are ready to pursue it.  But are they?

These “aspiring” actors are ready for anything in the beginning.  They get all their work done and hang on to their coaches every word.  And then 5 weeks pass, and reality starts hitting.  The “aspiring”actor will have to do a lot more work than just an hour of coaching per week.  The “aspiring” actor will have to actually get pictures and a resume ready.  They will have to create a social media presence and maintain it.  They will have to get their voice, body, and mind prepared.  They will have to read scripts and memorize them with very little time to do so.  They will have to start auditioning and getting an agent.  Networking is something that they now have to add their schedule.  Pursuing the dream of acting now becomes their reality, and it is much harder than they ever dreamt.

fullsizerender_2To deal with these obstacles,  the “aspiring” actor might start preparing less.  After all,  their life is still happening while they study acting, and there is just too much to do with their prior commitments. Acting will have to just be pushed to the side today, and then tomorrow, and then the next day.  They still have bills to pay, family problems, maybe even medical issues, and with all that who has any time to work on acting?  So they cancel they’re weekly session and ask if they can put off till next week when they have more time.  All of a sudden, even 1 hour a week becomes hard to commit to.  And the dream they once had is now a nuisance, like an itch on their back that they know is there, but they cannot ever seem to get rid of.

This why I have brought this up.  Whether you are an actor, writer, pianist, painter, fullsizerender_3sculptor-you must be bringing in the dough with some other job you had to take, hopefully one that you at least you enjoy.  But one that takes up a great deal of your time, energy, and spirit.  It is understandable that you don’t have time for acting class and working on your craft.  Maybe it is not even a job, but a family you are raising that requires all your attention.  Whatever it is, I get it!  It is understandable.  Here is my advice:

  1. Stop Dreaming, Start Doing!  Dreaming about going to NYU did not get me into the school.  Hard work did. And dreaming about writing a play that goes Off Broadway did not make that happen either.  I actually had to write a good script and have the chops to produce it.  And guess what, dreaming about being an actor will not make you one either.  Dreams are nice to have, so don’t think I am telling you to not dream, because dreaming is fun.  We gain motivation and inspiration through the act of dreaming.   But a lot of people in this field spend their whole life dreaming and not Doing!  Be-careful of dreaming too much!
  2. You are your WORD!  People relate to you through your words.  If my clients tell me they want to be an actor, than I relate to them as an actor. Therefore, I constantly remind them that the choices they make daily will affect whether or not they make it as a working actor.  So, if you say you want to ACT, then you have to ACT!  You can’t spend your time talking about it!  Be your word and do things actors do.  Same thing for you writers.  DO you want to write?  Then write, every single day!  Write!

 3.  RESULTS!  Every month you should have a goal!  Every month you should check in    and see if you accomplished the goal.  Notice: your results are consistent with what you are truly committed to. So if you are committed to talking about how little time you have to be an actor, I guarantee your results for the month will be consistent with that commitment.  Results never lie.  So here is the thing my friends: we artists can’t just want things.  We need to be willing to take actions that produce the results we desire. 

4.  Pitfalls are a Part of the Process!  You need to get this!  Something is always going to happen to prevent you from getting what you want in life.  There were always be some problem at work, or some financial issue you were not expecting.  And it is okay if you take some time to deal with it, as long as you don’t allow it to consume you.   Right after you deal with it, you must be able to jump right back on the train and do what you said you would!  Because if you don’t, there is someone else that will and then they will book the job you said you wanted.  But did you really want it in the first place? Ask yourself that.  And if you do, then why are you not going after it?  You have to do what it takes to get what you want, and that means staying in the game, especially when it is hard!

5.  Commitment is Freeing!  The best part about commitment is this-you can say at anytime, I no longer want to commit to being an actor.  I am committed to being a mom.  And just like that you are FREE!  You don’t have to feel bad for not memorizing the script when you are no longer committed to it.  But if you do say you are committed to being a working actor, then be free!  And freedom looks like not having to think about what you say you are going to do, but just doing it.  You have to treat this as if it is your baby!  A committed mom never thinks about changing her baby’s dirty diaper. She just does it because that is what commitment looks like.  And yes, sometimes it’s about changing shitty, dirty diapers, but other times it looks like performing the role of your dreams and doing exactly what you love!  But you have to commit …to something.  Once you do, you will be FREE!

fullsizerender_1I will end with master acting teacher, Carolyne Barry,  who passed away two years ago.  Her words still live on.  She said this to aspiring actors: “So take an honest look at how you are approaching you’re acting training and career. And ask yourself: Are you really motivated? Life is precious. Why not spend it doing something you are truly passionate about? If you have been training and/or pursuing an acting career and are no longer authentically inspired then investigate finding another career you can love where you can be a star. It is YOUR choice. I suggest you carefully think about not saying you want to be an actor but rather say that you are committed to being an actor.”

Commitment is FREEING!  What are you committed to?

IS YOUR LIFE STORY HOLDING YOU BACK?

…..Has it made you a can’t do person?fullsizerender_3

As an online acting coach, I get to work with actors from all over the country.  My coaching focuses on not only freeing actors to express themselves, but getting them to tell the truth!  I know, I know- what does that even mean?  Let me try and explain. My acting classes are designed for the student to discover how they can use themselves as an instrument to fully be the character they are playing. In order to do this, many exercises I use are geared towards getting the actor to dig very deep and sometimes go to places they have blocked.  You know those kinds of places that I am talking about… those dark, fearful- I want to forget about places?  If you don’t have them, consider yourself either very lucky or just extremely blocked.

One thing that most my students share is being STUCK in the world of their Life Story!  Dofullsizerender_2 you know what I mean by that?  If not, think about that story you share with people.  You know which story I am talking about. That go to story from your past that you constantly retell and share with people to explain why something in your life is the way it is.  For example, if you have one failed romantic relationship after another, you might share the story of your parent’s tumultuous divorce- the divorce that made it impossible for you to believe in love and therefore it continues to screw up any relationship you enter.  We all have these stories.  Some of us have stories about why we can’t go to the gym; why we are bad at making money; why we are scared of dogs; why we have to accept a job we don’t really like..etc etc.  Notice though that our story becomes our LIFE!  Uh Oh!

I want you to ask yourself:  Is your “Story” holding you back from the life you want?  If you answered YES…the good news is- YOU ARE THE AUTHOR OF YOUR LIFE STORY…which means- you get to write how it ends!     fullsizerender

Here are my tips on rewriting your Life Story, so you can go from being a Can’t do to a Can do Person:

1.  Accept that your life story is a part of who you are!  It is your history and of course it has affected you.  Once you accept that, you can choose who you want to become.  Don’t allow your story to define you, but do allow it to empower you.

2.  You are not your story.  Say:  “I am not my story.”  Now say it again, and again, and again, and one day you might just believe this. You are not the girl everyone makes fun of; You are not a bad actor just because you blew auditions already; you are not a bad athlete just because no one picked you to be on their team during gym class; you are not unlovable just because your parents left you; you are not ugly just because one person told you that you were.  Your body will want to resist this because it has made your story its reality, so that is why you must repeat over and over again:  “I am not my story.”

3.  Change the banter of your Inner Voice.  What is your inner voice?  Oh, you think you don’t have one?  Well you know that voice in your head that just said I don’t have an inner voice. That’s the one I am talking about.  It’s the voice that never shuts up.  It’s the voice that talks to you while you’re listening to someone, interrupting your focus and seducing you with what to say next, or even distracting you to go over your grocery list as you nod and pretend to be interested.  This inner voice is not always on your side, is it?  In fact, it loves “Your Story” and is not afraid to remind you of it any chance it gets- especially when you are faced with something new, challenging and even exciting to take on.  If you are an actor and your story is “I am bad at auditions,” then it is time to change your thoughts because if you don’t you will wind up getting what you focus on.  You are your thoughts!  Trust me, if you think you can’t do it, then you won’t do it.  Our thoughts are so powerful!  But you are even more powerful my friend, because you can take charge of your thoughts by shifting the focus on what it is you want while shutting your loud, rude, inner voice up.  Make your inner voice tell you that you are a CAN DO person, even if you don’t believe it at first.  Eventually you will.  You must! Otherwise, think of the alternative.

4.  Focus on Being what you Want NOW.  If you want to be an actor- then be it!  Show the fullsizerender_1world that you are an actor by taking all the actions of an actor.  Don’t wait!  If you keep on waiting, it will never happen. Here is an example of what being an actor now looks like:
-hiring an acting coach
-reading plays and scripts
– joining an acting class
-practing improv
-getting your head shots taken
-signing up for casting director workshops
-creating an actor page on social media
-learning monologues
-auditioning for plays, commercials, television, film
-writing your own work, filming it and putting it on you tube
-creating a reel
-hiring an agent and manager
-networking

You are the author of your own life, but you have to want to write a great, extraordinary story!  If you want to keep the story you have and constantly re-tell it, you may be at risk of being a victim to your own life. And that is never any fun! Anyone up to anything great in life has always rewritten their life story!

Which story do you want to write?  You can do this, but you have to choose!
Now say it one more time: “I AM NOT MY STORY.”

For more information on The Performing Arts Coach go to http://www.theperformingartscoach.com

If you read this blog and comment, I will give you a free 15 minute of coaching!  Comment and state FREE 15 minutes and we will set it up!

ACTORS: SHUT UP AND LISTEN!

Clint Eastwood said the most important thing an actor should possess is, “The ability to listen.”   

Actors listen up!  It is time to BE INTERESTED, NOT INTERESTING!  How can YOU be the next magical actor that audiences want to watch?   It’s simple!   Just shut up and listen!  img_7928

 Listening is where the heart of acting lives.    What I mean by this is:  it is not what you say and how you say it that makes you interesting to watch.  But, it is what you listen to and  how you listen to it that makes casting directors want you for the role.  So stop trying to be interesting, and instead- be interested.

WHY IS LISTENING THE BIGGEST POWER AN ACTOR HAS?

  1. It is a Skill most do not have!                                                                                              How you take in the world and how you perceive each moment is what audiences want to watch.  Therefore, how you take in what the other person is saying to you becomes a very important skill for you as an actor to develop.  Most people are more concerned with what to say next, instead of actually listening!img_7930

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” ― Ernest Hemingway

2.   Listening keeps us in the moment.                                                                                          By listening to another person, you will take the attention off of yourself and invite spontaneity into your work.

3.  Listening involves all our senses- not just our ears!                                                           To really hear the ocean is to taste it.  It is to see it!  It is to feel it splash along your face!  A skilled actor knows how to listen with sensory intuition– this means listening beyond the words.  When you really listen, you involve your whole self into the process and this makes you alive!  Talking will keep you dead!

4.  Listening keeps us curious about others- not just interested in ourselves!           Meryl Streep says: I don’t think you can really be an effective actor if you’re not curious about people and events. And if you’re interested in things, you want to go deeper and you want to know more.”

5.  Listening makes us pay attention!                                                                                       By paying attention and focusing, we eliminate distraction.  This helps an actor fully live in the moment, rather than fight to find any authenticity in a scene.

ACTING TIP:                                                                                                                                            For those of who you struggle with LISTENING– try Sanford Meisner’s technique:  REPETITION.  This technique will help yimg_7929ou to focus, and listen to, all information and clues that your partner is giving to you.   It also helps you to not anticipate and to go with the flow.

For more on the benefits of studying Meisner, go to:  https://actinginlondon.co.uk/3-lessons-great-actors-learned-from-sanford-meisner/#