I’ve been attending acting classes at Dorset School of Acting for the last few months, mainly to learn more about the process (when I direct professional actors again) but also to push myself out of my comfort zone and to give it a whirl (inspired by James Moran who did it a few years ago).
I’ve been shaking up my writing routine since last year (moving into a co-working space, attending more networking events, getting myself out there again), but acting class posed a bigger challenge as all my natural instincts said: don’t do it. Thankfully, I have done it (and still am doing it). It’s nerve wracking at times but a whole lot of fun, and I’m picking up lots of cool insights into the craft, darling.
My acting class are a lovely supportive group all around the same ‘beginner’ level but some stand out either because of their previous (or ongoing) acting experience, or their natural instinctive talents. For me, I find it fascinating/daunting to perform as I have no idea if I’m acting well or not when I’m in the thick of it. It’s fun, sometimes it’ll feel good, but you can’t help think: ‘oh crikey, that was AWFUL. Don’t give up the day job!’
And I suddenly realise: this is what actors must feel like all the time! Even when they get into the swing of it, or develop a confidence or a particular talent, they must still get nervous or fear that their next performance will be a dud.
As a writer, what’s been helpful is to appreciate that pretty much the same creative process goes into preparing for a performance as it does for the writing (which explains why a lot of good actors are natural storytellers). For example, an actor will (or possibly should) break down their dialogue or their scene into structural beats so that can work out their starting point, their desire, and how they’re going respond to the conflict in their way. Sound familiar? How often are we told when writing a scene to ask ourselves: whose scene is it? what do they want? what’s in their way? what do they do to overcome the conflict?
Interestingly, my favourite classes are when I don’t perform at all but when I listen, watch and then feedback to the others about their performances. I can’t help it. It’s the director in me. But at least now I know I’m SO not an actor (might be good for a cameo or two, that’s about it), and writing/directing is my real jam. If you’ve ever been tempted to give acting a go, for shizngiggles or to pursue a passion, then I thoroughly recommend joining a local class, and see where the muse strikes.
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