If you are an aspiring actor or acting student, you might find some of these links to various resources helpful. My experience comes from working at a film studio for a few years, including attending and helping out at various acting courses and working as an occasional film extra.
Although I recommend some books, it is probably worth pointing out that practice is what you are also going to need if you are starting out on a potential acting career, along with professional training.
I haven’t tried their courses, but they seem to be very sensibly priced, especially by London standards, and what they say on their website makes sense to me.
Barriers to Acting
This excellent book’s key point, as I see it anyway, is about our inner barriers to being the best actors we can be: how our “hidden acting agenda,” our inner resistance to being different from our normal selves in other words, can be brought into our awareness or simply let go so we can behave as needed for this or that role. Of course, these barriers stop us in our daily lives in general, so this book, for me, fits into the ‘enlightenment’ category too! The link on the left is to the Kindle edition, that on the right to the paperback edition.
This movie, while in my view being a little dull and hard to follow, is a great example of naturalistic acting for the aspiring film actor. Acting in serious films generally requires none of the melodrama or overacting that is necessary, for example, in the theatre. Instead, the actors are best advised to just not act at all, or so it appears. Of course, this is easier said than done for most people! The link on the left is to the DVD edition, that on the right to Blu-Ray.
The ability to read without tripping up over difficult words, and with good expression in your voice to help convey the meaning of a passage, is a vital skill for getting past many auditions, and for any voice to camera work, such as reading a news story as you speak to camera. You should be able to say all sorts of tongue-twisters, freely, rapidly and without error. Ideally, you should be able to read almost any passage from Shakespeare with expression (as it is incomprehensible to most listeners without proper expression). At a minimum, you should be able to read an article from a newspaper on your first attempt, as if you were a TV presenter – that is, with expression and without mistakes or hesitations. How to do this? Practice reading out loud daily, of course!
If you can read this poem correctly, with correct pronunciation of all the difficult words (you’ll probably have to look many of them up), you will be doing better than most!
Autition Monologues for Actors and Actresses
Sometimes you will be given a specific monologue to learn, but generally it is good advice to have a few different types of monologues up your sleeve at all times. If a casting director doesn’t like what you’re doing you may be asked if you can do another piece: you must be able to answer ‘yes’ to such a question! Where can we find one? Well, there seem to be plenty on the Internet and a quick search will throw some up for you, although there is a clear shortage of good monologues for women out there. For both men and women, however, I would recommend these books by Jean Marlow for a good selection of passages to choose from. In the long run, of course, you will need a number of monologues, maybe 20 or so, so that you have a good selection for any conceivable audition. It is therefore probably a good idea to find some completely unique ones that are not being used by other people. You can get these from favourite books, plays and movies. Happy hunting!
David Mamet: True and False
David Mamet’s idea of acting is to let go of trying to do too much. He says:
The actor does not need to ‘become’ the character. The phrase, in fact, has no meaning. There is no character. There are only lines upon a page. There are lines of dialogue meant to be said by the actor. When he or she says them simply, in an attempt to achieve an object suggested by the author, the audience sees an illusion of a character upon the stage. To create this illusion the actor has to undergo nothing whatsoever. He or she is free of the necessity of ‘feeling’ as the magician is free of the necessity of actually summoning supernatural powers.
Looking For Richard
This DVD by Al Pacino is about his efforts to get a Shakespeare production off the ground. It is good viewing just to see how easily he seems to be able to slip in and out of character, whether in a theatre or on the streets of New York: no embarrassment hinders him!