Should an actor study with more than one teacher at a time? (from a question posed to me by ‘Backstage’)
Not necessarily more than one acting teacher at a time however…
First of all, I am heartened by this question. The thought of someone caring about their craft enough to want to work with numerous teachers already lets me know that the actor is not only disciplined, but aware of the motto “knowledge is power”. To have true power as an actor necessitates that you know your craft.
I heard one popular audition ‘teacher’ in Los Angeles poo-poo technique, made the class laugh at Stanislavski’s photo, and mocked ‘knowing your objective (i.e. your paycheck! Ha ha.). If you took ‘cold reading’ from this poseur, you would be getting mixed messages when you study with a real educator. I think there are teachers for one-line-day-players, and teachers for actors that play complex roles. There are no shortcuts to great acting. Mediocre acting can be done by many – great acting by very few.
Take an acting technique class. If you have the time and money – take a voice class (yes, Scarlett, even in movies and TV where you are mic’d). If I had a STARmeter point for every time I’ve heard that an actor’s inner work was good, but it wasn’t reaching the camera due to a lack of vocal vitality – I’d be Ryan Gosling. Take a movement class (Feldenkrais, Alexander, Yoga, Martial Arts, Dance, Movement for Actors, etc.) to release the tensions in your body. It is important to be supple vocally and physically for the deep emotions you’re feeling inside to be expressed. Take improv to free up your impulses and trust the moment.
Choose classes that enhance the acting work, much like a Conservatory. Only… you get to pick your teachers, your hours, your course of study and you don’t have to live on campus or build sets!
The various classes that you choose must enhance one another. Meisner and Strasberg technique are fantastic for your tool belt, but they don’t always compliment one another. Cold reading is another tool in the belt. I love Chinese and Italian food – I don’t want them on the same plate. Also, don’t confuse “workshops” with classes. “Workshops” are to get you in front of casting directors, not to teach you to act (with a few exceptions who happen to be friends of mine!).