This blog serves to give acting ideas and advice to actors of all ages, especially young ones. This blogs author is J.T. Turner, actor, director, teacher and member of AEA, SAG and AFTRA. I hope you find the posts useful, and please pass along the blog address to anyone you think might benefit from it!

Monday, June 14, 2010


"Lady Macbeth" detail

This summer I am directing The Scottish Play. Although it is bad luck to say the name out of context, it is OK to say it in relation to the actual play, so I will be directing William Shakespeare's Macbeth. With that in mind, expect a few posts this summer about the Bard. But this post has information that is good for not just tackling Shakespeare, but any script at all.

When dealing with a script for the first time, especially Shakespeare, it makes sense to have an approach to your work. In that regard, I use the simple silly acronym, WAR?. Yeah it is goofy but you will hopefully remember it, and most importantly, what each part of WAR? is.

W-Start with the words. When dealing with Shakespeare, never ever speak words you do not understand. There are many books that give you a contemporary explaination of what a word or line means, (Side by Side editions, No Fear Shakespeare), and many annotated versions as well. And of course the internet is a great reference library for the actor. If it is not in your library, C.T. Onions great book A Shakespeare Glossary should be added at once.
So make sure you know what it is you are saying,

A- refers to the arc of the play. What happens in the play, where do we start, where do we end, what is the journey about? What is the structure of the piece?

R- reason! Why does your character say the line? Background, foreshadowing, plot device, comic relief? Why do you say what you say? Especially with Shakespeare, no line is given to you randomly. (In Shakespeare, R may do double duty as rhythm).

?- Finally the question mark. In a simple sentence or two, decide what the play is about. The answer may be different for each production of the same play, as a director and actors have a vision they are working toward, and that vision may change from one production to another.

So when you face a new script, think of going to WAR?

Next up, a show-off Latin phrase!

J.T. Turner
The Actors Sensei

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fix your head!

Sorry to be missing in action, I was down in Guatemala doing some work. Happy to be home!

Is A Headshot Black TShirtAll actors, performers and speakers need a good photo. And, just as important, a current photo. I want to make a few suggestions that will help you have a good headshot.

While many casting directors and theaters still ask you to come in with a  headshot, our photos are also being used in cyber land. Casting directors and companies often ask that the headshot be sent electronically, or will visit your website to check out your picture. As a result, a 8 X 10 photo,  (the industry standard), will often be viewed in a presentation that is about 2 inches square. So I suggest that either you have at least 2 headshots ready, or that you have one great one that can be used in a variety of settings. So here are some keys to s good headshot, given the ideal of it being used in multiple venues.

IT IS A HEADSHOT!- 3/4 shots, full body shots, shoulders and head all may work in a printed 8 X 10, but when reduced, your face may disappear. So try and have your face the featured item in the frame.

BORDERS- Artistically delightful, but in cybeland space counts, skip the white edges and borders.

MY EYES HURT- Keep any background clean, simple, and not too busy.

WASHED OUT- Forget muted tones, keep things crisp and vibrant. Even with a black and white shot, make the black and white have stark contrast.

I WANT YOU!- Your face, your eyes, expression should be the focal point of any picture. No one will cast you for what you are wearing in the picture. Of course clothes choices are important, especially in color photos, but you are the main part of the photo.

And please keep the shot current! Nothing is more frustrating than looking at a headshot of a person, calling them in for a role, and finding out the photo was 20 years old! Also, looking your best in the photo is great, but make sure you look like you!

J.T. Turner
The Actors Sensei