To gain success in any creative field, you have to show up, every single day and do the work. This advice has been preached by our most revered acting idols and rightly so. But if you’re like many actors, your daily practice may look something like this: wake up, respond to a few emails, submit for roles on Actors Access, Mandy or Backstage, maybe touch up your website or reel, order some new headshots or rehearse some monologues and that might be about it for most days. Sound familiar?
It’s extremely important to be your own manager and personal assistant, especially in the early stages of your career. But what about a daily practice of actually ACTING? Unless you’re currently in rehearsals for a project, this can feel pretty difficult to obtain.
A painter can wake up in the morning and put their brush to canvas, a writer can sit with his pen and paper, a musician, his instrument, etc. But acting is altogether different.
Acting is often thought of as an art that requires the consent of many people. It requires the consent of yourself, to commit fully to truthfully portraying your role, it may require the consent of others who are acting alongside you to portray the story. It lastly requires the consent of an audience, willing to go on this journey with you. This can feel extremely difficult to replicate when one is by oneself in a studio apartment in Brooklyn.
How then, can we take a lesson from our painter and writer friends to develop a daily practice as an actor?
Firstly, release yourself from the vision of the final product. If a painter sits down expecting to immediately flesh out a masterpiece or a writer sits down to feverishly scribble an entire novel in one go, the poor creative soul will be so bogged down by this expectation that they might be compelled to throw their canvas or typewriter out the window. So perhaps rather than focusing on what it feels like to perform, it might behoove us to practice the art of rehearsing, building up all the layers to form the final, performance-ready product.
What we often forget is that all art is a matter of applying multiple layers. It’s adding more clay to the sculpture, molding it, then chipping away again, only to repeat. If you auditioned for and were cast in a play tomorrow, the play wouldn’t premier the day after. There’s an entire process of shaping the performance, which is to say that the entire experience of acting is not only held in the final result of a performance onstage or on film. It’s an entire journey from first read through, to rehearsals, exercises, often grueling tech and finally performance.
There may be no way for you to give yourself a daily practice of the gratification that comes with the end result. But there sure as hell are ways to replicate the work and the journey we take when we take on a new role.
Take a moment with a pen and paper and think about the most inspiring acting experience you’ve had yet. Whether it was in a film, a play or some other kind of performance, write down every step of the process that you went through between initial casting and final product.
What exercises did you do for character development? How did you analyze your script? How did you discover your character's talk, walk and mannerisms? How did you memorize your lines?
Use these steps to create your own template that will help you dive deeper into whatever monologue, scene or play you want to tackle next. Use this as a guide to help you come back to your art, every single day. Only through consistently showing up, does inspiration and opportunity keep knocking at your door.
At The Scene Labs, we are creating a program that you can follow to replicate what an intensive, professional rehearsal process is like. If you’d like to be one of the first to get your hands on it, subscribe for fun news and updates on the Monologue Page of this site. But you don’t need to wait for our program to begin your own daily practice.
Share your breakthroughs and personal daily practices with us and sign up if you’d like to try out ours! Go break some legs today!