Answers 4 Actors

Thursday, January 20, 2011

5 Ways for an Actor to Work Out Every Day

An actor needs to be ready to audition at a moment’s notice. You want to be on top of your game all the time. How do you do that?

Actors ask me all the time how to keep their acting muscles in good shape. Of course serious actors take class and go to their acting coaches as much as they can. But an actor cannot be in class or working with their coach 24/7; so here are five ways for an actor to work out every day and, listen; it doesn’t have to be boring or feel like homework. It can be creative and even fun.

These exercises will support everything else you are doing. Okay, you may not do them seven days a week, but even if you do these exercises four or five times a week you will notice a major difference in the consistency and quality of your technique. It’s like using those weights at the gym. You will get stronger and find it easier to perform the exercise. Pretty soon you will have to use heavier weights, but let’s not worry about that right now!

Here are the five ways to work out every day as a Professional Actor.

1. Read out loud every day for five minutes.
Sounds simple and basically it is, just like those weights you lift. If you do it consistently in a very short time you will see a difference in your cold reading technique.
Use a script, a newspaper, a book you are reading. It doesn’t matter what the material is. It matters that you do it regularly.

Glance at the script, grab a line and look up at a spot on the wall and say the line. This is different than just normal reading. You are connecting to the person in front of you. This is the technique you need to be able to use in an audition. It is also what you would do if you were reading to someone else and wanted to keep his attention. For a change of pace, pretend you are reading to a six year old. Keep that child’s attention.
Do this every day and in a very short time you will notice a major improvement.
It is an easy exercise. It will improve your cold reading audition technique very quickly.

2. Watch a scene from a film or television show scene and analyze it.
If possible use a DVD or record the television show so you can play the scene more than once. Analyze the acting performances. Did you believe the characters? If so, why? If not, why not? Write down your analysis of the scene. Now try to decide why it was believable or not and what you could tell the actor to do to make it better. Keep watching the scene over and over until you could tell me exactly why it worked or didn’t worked and what you could do if you were the actor to fix it.

3. Practice memorizing a quote and see if you can say it from memory the next day. Keep a book of quotes or a list of quotes on your computer. Here is a quote to begin this exercise.
“The most powerful tool we have for changing our environment is our ability to change ourselves.” Stephanie Matthews-Simonton.

Don’t tell me that you will memorize a monologue every day. Don’t tell me because you won’t do it. Oh you will plan to do it but you won’t. Make it easy on yourself. Do something that will only take a few minutes. You can practice the quote in your shower or in your car or while you are walking to catch the subway or the bus. When you wake up the next day see if you can say it. You will get better and better at this and you also will find that you memorize faster and your recall will improve quickly.

4. Describe a person you have seen. Someone in line at the grocery store, on the post office line or sitting next to you on the subway or in the car idling next to you at a stop sign (don’t do it when you are driving I want you to concentrate on driving). Do this exercise two ways. One way is to tell another person and the other way is to write it down. You should definitely write it down and you can also tell another person. But writing it down is the best. Try to be as specific as you can. Use colors and sizes. Make it so specific that the person you tell or the person reading it could identify the character you described if he or she appeared in front of them.

5. Sit quietly for five minutes and remember a highly emotional memory in your life.
Make it a strong emotion such as something that is very sad or extremely happy. Take note of what your body feels like as you re-live that moment. Identify where you hold that emotion in your body. For example, when you are crying or feel like crying does your throat feel like it is locking up or your stomach gets tight? Notice all the physical effects that emotional memory has on your body. If you need to recreate this type of emotion, the more you have used your sense memory in your practice the easier and more efficient it will be for you to bring that emotional life to your scene and to your character when you are under pressure like at an audition or on the set.

These are five ways you can work out every day as an actor. You don’t need to be in a class or have another actor there to work with to do these exercises, which means you don’t have an excuse for not doing them.

If you are serious about working as a professional actor, start to create a daily practice of working on your craft. It doesn’t have to be hard and it can actually be fun to do. You are creating characters, details and emotions that you will use as a professional actor. And when that phone call comes for an important audition you will feel like you are at the top of your game and able to give it your best.

If you have a question or concern as an actor and you would like me to write about it please leave a comment here or send it to me at:


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