|What’s it really like inside an actor’s workshop? –credit|
The first step to a successful acting career is simply to get SEEN. It takes a long time to build a rapport with New York casting directors or to get signed with an agent, but these career-boosting professionals make themselves available to auditioning actors via paid workshops.
Workshops can vary from two to six week sessions. Generally, you sing your 16 or 32-bar cuts (which is a verse and a chorus for those non-theater folk), and wait to be critiqued in a safe and supportive environment. Those running the classes aren’t necessarily looking to sign new talent or cast a show, but to simply offer much-needed feedback.
Workshops are a great way to get your foot in the door to big Broadway casting companies such as Telsey and Co. (Some of Telsey’s current shows include Newsies, Wicked, Spiderman and Rock of Ages.) I have found that Telsey casting personnel is solely interested in how you sound, how you look, and if you fit the mold of what they need for a character. Even if you are the most talented person in the world, there are factors beyond your control that could keep you from booking the job such as appearance, personality, or a specific “type” that a director has pre-cast in his or her mind.
|Members of A Chorus Line wonder, “What does he want from me? Who should I try to be?” –credit|
I participated in a workshop led by Bob Cline, an actor turned casting director who truly loves what he does. In his class, you present your material while he raises the stakes and gives direction that makes your choices abundantly clear. “What happened the moment before the song started? Who are you singing to? What do you want from this person? What tactics do you use to get what you want? Were you successful in your task?” In order to create a complete emotional journey in a 30-second song, consider these questions. I booked work every time I finished Bob’s class because he was clear, positive, and encouraging. I took my newfound confidence into the next audition rooms.
|Learning the notes and sounding fierce is only a small part of a singer’s job when preparing a piece –credit|
Most recently, I took one workshop in which each week consisted of singing the same songs to a different agent or casting director. One casting director said to me, “Don’t try to act this rock song, just stand there and rock out.” The next said, “Don’t just rock out, ACT this rock song!” The same performance of the same song resulted in completely contradictory sets of direction. Even my attire sparked debate. One agent wrote on a questionnaire “Looks great!,” while another wrote, “Wardrobe too dark and drab.” How do you please everyone? What is the right choice?
|Are your acting workshop notes really helpful? –credit|
If you tailor your performance to what you think the people behind the table want, you are dead in the water. The key is simply to bring your heart, your soul, and your vulnerability to the table. Agent Joel Carlton admits, “I just want to learn something about you.” This way, he can find out how versatile you are, how sellable you are, and what it is that you do best.
What I have truly taken away from workshops is this: There is no right choice. When you walk into that room, all you have to do is be YOU. The legendary Bernadette Peters got it right when she said, “You’ve got to be original, because if you’re like someone else, what do they need you for?”
|There is only one Bernadette Peters. There is only one you. –credit|