So you want to study acting alone? Popular consensus states that you should study acting in a classroom setting with other actors but it isn’t the only way. That is only part of the journey. Studying acting alone is equally important. One should venture into both.
There really is an abundance of ways for you to study and learn about acting. Let’s go through a few ideas together.
Pick A Coffee Shop and Observe People
Go to a popular place and sit somewhere comfortable where you can observe things. A good place is usually inside a coffee shop. Sit by the window so that you may observe the ongoings of human nature both inside and outside the cafe. Spend hours simply watching.
Who interests you? What sort of impression does that person make on you at first glance? Why did that person run their fingers through their hair just then? Did you notice how that man placed his hand in his pocket? That teenager keeps looking behind him, what’s his inner motivation? Why is that woman walking so slowly? Why does that lady keeping staring down? There is a couple in the corner talking…what’s going on between them…is he really in love with her, is she attracted to him? How much time has one of the barristers invested into pouring coffee? How does he/she pour the coffee? Why do they pour it in such a way? Do they pour the coffee in the same manner each time? Why is that?
These questions may seem monotonous while reading. They aren’t. It’s to show you the detail you have to go through to penetrate reality. Let your imagination loose.
This is a fine way of finding bits of behavior that you may use at a later time for a character you portray. You may see a man who wipes his mustache with his finger in such a way that it doesn’t leave you and when you go and do it yourself you are suddenly taken over by something that makes you feel like someone else. There’s an entire storehouse of ideas that get constructed just by observing and watching and studying people. Observation is a really solid resource you can use at any given time or location to study acting alone.
Watch Films Starring Actors You Respect
It’s always great to watch films because you can start them from the beginning and watch them over and over again, catching nuances and bits of content that can teach you things about acting.
Let’s take a look at A Streetcar Named Desire and some of the work from Marlon Brando. Keep in mind that you are welcome to use the following suggestions for any actor you like.
- Play the movie without sound. Watch the entire film. Only study the behavior. Watch his movements closely and take in what is being expressed.
- Play the movie again without sound. This time, in slow motion.
- Pick up a copy of the play and read it. Watch the film again but only now with sound while you follow along with your eyes on the play’s dialogue.
- Read about the stories of all the behind the scenes occurrences that took place while making the film and also when it was on Broadway.
- Watch the entire film as a whole, playing normally.
What you gain from these suggestions is entirely up to you. You may gain nothing at all. If you take some of the suggestions, even if one thing hits you and you make a discovery, it was worth it because you are deepening your craft. Your impressions will always be your own to keep and take with you along your creative journey.
Read Plenty of Playscripts
Read as many plays and screenplays as you can. Everything from the classics to contemporary writing. Pay careful attention to what happens between the scenes. The writer gives you the life on the page but you must be responsible for filling the life off the page. Read and take your time imagining a character’s world.
So much imaginative material gets created out of reading plays. It’s a fantastic way for actors to venture into different time periods and build a deeper understanding of human nature by understanding the relationships of people.
Try This Final Acting Exercise Out
Go out into the world with an accent or a limp or something that is unnatural to you. Spend the entire day that way. Talk to people and believe in what you are doing so much that you forget all about your limp or accent and you will quickly be surprised how other people accept you for who you are as you are. It is sort of like wearing a suit or a fancy dress…you will have a different impression of yourself as opposed to wearing ripped jeans and a sweater.
There you have it. A few concepts and practices to help you think about ways in which you can study acting alone.