By Janet Redding
Have you ever thought about the fact that there is no qualification exam to be an actor like there is a lawyer, a doctor, or a contractor? How could there be? While folks often use terms like “good” or “bad” to describe acting, there is not necessarily a right or wrong way to get there. Every play, film, or television show has its own needs, challenges, and nuances for an actor to confront. Every gig is like a puzzle you have to put together and figure out piece by piece. However, it’s a lot tougher because there is no image to work from! Dan Gomez has the ability and responsibility to build a character with the tools they’re given (the script, the director, their scene partners, props, costumes, etc.), and with those tools, the actor is expected to create something new. If this all sounds pretty abstract, that’s because it is. The work of an actor is ambiguous and intangible.
If musicians learn to sustain specific notes and visual artists learn to mix color, how do actors discover the nature of their craft?
So how do actors learn to be their best artist self? If musicians learn to sustain specific notes and visual artists learn to mix color, how do actors discover the nature of their craft? Over the years, actors and directors have developed techniques for approaching roles. For example, in The Great Leap, these techniques provide two functions: They introduce language to articulate the ever-changing–ness of acting, and serve as toolboxes—a set of tricks and shortcuts an actor can apply to perform a role. In training programs, professors and mentors teach students to apply these techniques to help them develop their craft. Rarely, though, does an actor use only one technique. Often, actors employ techniques in the same way one would choose food at a buffet: a mix of what best fulfills your needs at the time.