Lately, I’ve come across some “lazy acting” amongst a handful of actors in my classes, which I’d like to address as a whole.
Acting is the only profession I’ve heard of where actors, wanting to break into the business, think that success is just going to fall out of the sky and somehow land in their lap without having to do too much work.
As an acting teacher, I require my actors to rehearse as much as possible outside of class. I find the right assignments (scenes) from current TV and Film in a way so that they are learning how to take what we’ve worked on in class and improve upon that during rehearsals. There is only so much a teacher can teach someone but without the effort on BOTH parts, wonderful actors have a tendency to just “give up,” and vice versa.
To me, acting is like basketball. In sports, you must PRACTICE to make the team, to stay on the team and to help your team be victorious. Rarely have I heard of a college basketball player who is being scouted by the NBA yet chooses not practice until “game day.” This is like the actor who tells me, “I’ll really bring it at my audition” or “I know what to do because I just booked a role so I don’t need to keep rehearsing” or “I don’t have time.”
This way of thinking can convince you that your bad habits actually work! That rehearsing under the pressure of an audition is the way to really tell if your skills are going to book you the job, or if you’re acting class is “working.”
Creating habits like this can also create messy work. This is when you start memorizing the lines instead of creating the story. Or improv-ing your way through a scene because you’re rusty and can’t remember what the story is or your lines for that matter. Or you’re acting in a bubble; meaning only what you’re saying and feeling is important and you’re not really taking in what the other person in your scene is saying or feeling.
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching and coaching actors who work hard, show up to every class and use what they’ve learned in rehearsals to enhance their work. These actors are now series regulars, recurring guest-stars, and creators of their own studio films and network TV shows.
In the words of my all time favorite basketball player, Michael Jordan, "I play to win, whether during practice or a real game."