The rehearsal process can be a great place to grow. Working with a director and collaborating with a group of individuals gives the actor important experience and insight into the art of the theater. Unfortunately, a need to create a finished product (which can be performed in front of an audience and bought and sold) is often what makes “rehearsing a play” a difficult place for an actor to realize his or her full potential. To grow as an artist, actors needs time to develop their craft without the logistical obstacles (stress, timelines, memorization of lines) that a full production presents.
There are a number of options open to an actor who finds themselves yearning for growth. Looking at the curriculum of an actor’s studio or a theater organization is a great place to start. These are usually easy to find in major cities, especially if you ask a friend for recommendations. Working with a teacher who is invested in the actor’s artistic development can open up potential in one’s craft that is often passed over during a fast-paced rehearsal process. Instead of running lines, they are truly examining how you react and act in the moment. To find the right fit, the actor should research different acting philosophies and look for what inspires them. Many popular actors have started with Constantin Stanislavski’s system and the different schools of thought that emerged from the Group Theater, based on his teachings. The Stella Adler school is also a different method that draws on an actor’s personal experience and can be helpful to one’s process.
An actor’s studio will usually have the added benefit of offering instruction in facets of acting that aren’t given that much attention to in rehearsal. Movement and vocal training are often skills that set M.F.A. graduates apart from many other talented actors. Receiving instruction from an industry professional can level the playing field. Most importantly, taking this training in tandem with scene study can teach the actor to control their form completely, opening up endless possibilities of transformation for your characters.
Using the foundation of the techniques learned in the studio, actors can bring their training into their life outside of the theatre. Mind, body and soul all play equal parts in the art of acting. An actor who learns to utilize these parts in harmony learns to create and shape their ideal instrument. Therefore, developing a personal program of physical, mental and spiritual training is essential. A teacher can be a useful resource for how to incorporate these ideas into their work. Cindy Tanas, the Toronto-based head of the Cindy Tanas Actors Studio (Cindytanas.com/about-us/cindy-tanas) has a background in bioenergetics, which is the study of how to release blocked emotions and energy. Her training with Jack Nicholson’s mentor Eric Morris and work with meditation and body awareness makes her a well-rounded instructor who can help you not only to tap into a character, but your own mental energy. Stanislavski’s book An Actor Prepares also offers some helpful suggestions.
The actor’s art is one that craves growth on the part of the artist. In order to stay present and connected, the actor must be up for anything, especially if it involves personal risk. Much of the theatre’s value comes from the experiences of self-discovery shared in the moment between performer and audience. In order to stay fresh onstage, the actor must first discover who they are.