If you are thinking of becoming a professional actor, it is extremely important that you start to get practical experience and start to build an acting resumé. The easiest, most accessible and, for beginners, the best way to get experience and build a resumé is to get involved in lots of local community, school and church plays.
Why local plays? Well, unless you live in HOLLYWOOD, you probably won't get many chances to audition for major motion pictures. (Anyway, what Hollywood director would risk a 25 million dollar budget on an unknown with no experience. Sheeeesh! Get real!) So plays are the most likely place to start getting some experience. And frankly, theatre training is a great way to learn about acting. It's also great fun and you'll meet a lot of (ahem) how shall I say,
Most communities have one or more local or regional community theatre. Many churches also put on plays and most high schools put on a play or several plays each year.
These same local groups can also help you find out about local classes and workshops where you can study acting and improve your natural talent. Some groups even hold their own classes.
Where to find local classes or auditions with local groups? Look in the newspapers (call your papers and find out which day of the week and in which section they publish audition notices.) Also look for performance listings. Call the phone number listed for ticket sales and ask about future auditions and about classes.
Attend community play performances. Talk to cast members after the show. Tell them you are interested in their group and would like to join and audition for plays (be sure to mention how much you enjoyed their play and performance.) Find out whatever info you can about their auditions and also ask if they know of any classes in the area. Most community groups publish a newsletter for members. These will also contain audition or class notices.
Search the web. Start your search at
The American Association of Community Theatres
. Many groups have web pages that list play schedules, audition dates and classes if they host any. Go to the major search engines and search sites using key words such as "theatre" and the name of your state and/or city.
Another place to contact is your local colleges and universities. These places frequently produce shows which are open for the public to audition. Many of them also hold classes which are open to the general public through "Community Outreach" programs. Look in the phone book.
Go to as many auditions as you can.
If you don't get a part in a play, then volunteer to help on the stage, costume, set design or lighting crews. Becoming involved in theatre productions, even behind the scenes, will give you important experience in how the performing business works and can be included on a theatrical resumé as well.
Remember, even the best actors started with behind the scenes work and small parts. Take whatever parts you can get. As you improve your skills and experience, you will get better and better roles. Don't be in such a rush to start at the top. Learn your craft slowly, improve your knowledge and skills step by step. You'll find building that resumé a lot more fun and much less discouraging if you take a smart and methodical approach to your training.
Of course in order to get a part, you usually have to audition first. This lesson will not deal with auditions. That is a seperate lesson. This lesson will deal with some nuts and bolts actor things that are vitally important to know.
Why do you need to know this stuff? Simple. If you don't know these basic things, and you go to auditions, you will look like a total and complete
. And it's a lot harder for a new guy to get a part then it is for someone who looks like they know what they're doing.
Look at it from the director's perspective. If you were auditioning some people for a play, and were going to spend the next 5-8 weeks in intensive rehearsals, and had a choice between someone who knew stage left from stage right, or someone who looked confused and panicky, staring into space when asked to countercross down center left and give 1/4 back---well who would you cast for the part? Ri-i-i-i-i ght! The person who seemed to know what they were doing, of course
So you need to know what you are doing.
Besides local plays, you should also market yourself directly. Contact
your nearest AFTRA/SAG office to see if they have any casting director contact names and addresses. Watch the TV commercials for your local businesses. Call the various businesses and ask who do their TV ads. Then call the ad agencies and ask if they keep actor files (for those times when they cast direct) and/or who handles casting for their productions. Often times the production houses do their own casting instead of going through agencies. Contact your local production houses.
Contact big companies directly. Some really big companies do some of their own productions in-house and keep actor files. Also ask who they use for their outside production work and which agencies they use for casting.
Contact your local film schools or universities with film making depts. Find out who is making student films and make sure each of those aspiring directors know you are an eager actor willing to work (expect to get
pay. But you might get a video of the films you are in - from which you can put together an audition video to send to agents).
Check your local papers, film commissions or trade publications for audition notices for independent films that might be filmed in your area. Call whatever contact # is given.
You might also consider starting your own community group or production company. EGADS!!! Can this be done? Sure. It's actually quite easy - though hard work. You can also set-up your own classes - possibly through a local school or other community organization, or privately with a like-minded group of people.
If this seems like an interesting challenge, check out these resources:
Follow the links to continue this lesson.