And why acting is one of the best things to do for yourself
For most actors — professional or aspiring, taking drama classes is necessary. It is the equivalent of working out: an athlete needs it to stay in shape, everybody else needs it as a healthy habit. In both acting and working out, it is the practice that allows for improvement and excellence.
Being a drama student is also a way of enjoying art, as a hobby or a self-improvement activity. Art feeds the soul and, drama lessons involve self-exploratory work such as imagining you are someone else and telling a story as a fictional character. Moreover, acting classes are a way for actors and aficionados to hone a skill, or simply spend time on themselves, away from an unfulfilling job or a busy routine.
The most popular drama classes you can find follow under one of two categories: method acting and improv. While the former consists of studying the script and bringing its characters to life with your body and voice, the latter has similarities with actual child play, where you “just go with it” when the other actor says a line created on the spot. You reply in kind, with no rehearsal, and no tips about what the theme is going to be: improv just happens, as long as the actors keep going.
Traditionally, acting classes were always held in person, with few exceptions. Along with jobs, schools, and events, the pandemic slowly changed that rule. Nearly six months after the first shutdown, online drama and improv are getting increasingly popular, with classes selling out quickly after advertised. Eventbrite, a website where motivational speakers and teachers sell tickets to parties and classes, currently has over one thousand online acting classes listed, many of them already sold out. That said, here are three reasons why you should give online acting classes a try.
If you were already a drama student, adapting to working with a scene partner online may be a little awkward but not completely strange. As of recent years, many casting directors audition professional actors virtually, bringing them personally only after narrowing down the talented ones to a few favorites for the part.
If not a professional but an aspiring actor who were considering taking acting classes but never found the time, there was never a better moment to do it: there is enough downtime, no safe places to gather outside, and no excuses — you do not have to drive anywhere or worry about wearing comfortable clothes for the class. Just sign up and turn on the laptop.
Acting is not just performance: it is self-exploration. To play a character, you leave most of your background away and step into the shoes of someone else, real or imaginary, who will have your voice, your body, but not your “self.” For you to do that, you build a fictional character from their unique background and circumstances, which is a great learning experience. You research everything about that character in the context of the story, from the psychology behind them to the piece of the puzzle they represent in the story.
With improv, you simply become a character in response to a suggestion of a theme or from another actor’s line. There is not much time to elaborate. To be successful at improvising, you must be open-minded, humble, and able to laugh at yourself. At a method class, rather, you must be able to read a play or script with attention to every detail: from the relationship between characters to their motives that make them say the lines written on the paper to the way they would deliver the dialogue.
Both performance forms are great for self-improvement. While improv allows you to be creative and think quickly on your feet, method acting invites you to dive deep into emotion, relationships and evolution.
3. Being a star
It is undeniable: after an acting class, everyone feels like a celebrity. And that is a great feeling. It does not matter whether you act as a hobby, to de-stress from your day job and make friends, or if you have real performance goals. Maybe you wanted to come out of your shell and be more confident. Or, people always told you to get on a stage because of how funny you are.
Opening your mind enough to play from your own home is no less fun. After all, even big-time performers from Broadway and Shakespeare companies have been holding online shows, each actor from a different location, via Zoom or another live streaming service. The stage or rehearsal room is now replaced by the laptop camera from a home office or kitchen counter.
Do not wait for the pandemic to be over to start doing something fun. Follow your passion, work on yourself, have fun in between. From private coaches to the most renowned drama studios, everybody is taking their acting business online, and there are no signs of slowing down. So, turn on the laptop and start playing!