Yesterday I firmed up an arrangement with a local high school specializing in the arts whereby I will be coaching three acting students preparing to audition for summer stock work. The auditions are scheduled for the spring.
I have worked with this school before. A common problem I find in public and private schools where drama is a featured subject is the lack of understanding about acting in general. The approach is about Affecting a posture, attitude or emotion and learning how to connect the dots throughout a play or, in this case, a monologue.
I trained as a classical actor. I work from the outside in or the inside out, depending on the rol and the time I have to prepare for performance. But what I always do is work from the inner core, ask why this and why that in terms of what my character is doing. This seems to be a foreign concept in the typical drama class I have participated in as an artist-in-residence. It's frustrating because the foundation these aspiring actors are getting doesn't do them any good. Of course, maybe that's why I was hired to come and assist these students select and prepare monologues. I start this assignment the beginning of next year.
One thing I hope to have is a chance to get more involved in the secondary school programs teaching acting as a craft and also as a life skill for those who are not planning to go near a stage outside of class. The technique is the same: reach inside and figure out how and why a character behaves the way she does or thinks the way he does. You do that as a professional actor and in the real world you do that in personal and professional relationships in order to strengthen your communication and understanding of those around you.
Whatever the challenge, it's always refreshing to get around such young, unspoiled energy and talk to them about craft and see how they progress with newly acquired skills. It's so very rewarding when you are able to throw out the gunk and replace it with a solid foundation for working and thinking as an actor.