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!

Thursday, September 30, 2010


No, no not a post about your last finger. Even I am not that crazy.......well not today anyway. No, rather this is a personal post about an odd actory thing I often do when learning lines, and that is using my secret weapon.......the Pinky.
Pinky Ball

Yes, that pink colored rubber ball that many of us had as children. Ok maybe for some of you it is a toy your folks used, but still just refer to the photo. So I actual use this simple device when trying to learn lines, especially Shakespeare. But it helps with all lines from any genre. it can also be used for lyrics.

Now work with me here. When learning lines, I simply bounce the ball along with saying the lines aloud. This works great for Shakespearean verse since it is written in specific beats. a typical line of verse has 5 soft and 5 hard beats, alternating...da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM. That is a typical line, so I may bounce the ball down on the hard beats.

But this works for any lines. It has to do with distracting your mind, and slipping your lines into your brain in a structured way. It really helps if you have a word that is hard or that you have trouble remembering. Then I FIERCELY bounce the ball while calling out the word several times. By over emphasizing, exaggerating, and making a strong memory path, the word gets into your brain more dynamically, and that helps you with recall.

If I am working on a scene with a partner, we bounce the ball to each other after each one is done with a line. If I am getting help from someone reading, I may just bounce it on the floor after my line, listening to the next cue.

I find it also helps if I am walking or pacing as I bounce the pinky, again, saying the lines aloud. You may recall an earlier blog about memorization, using an MP3 or the like, and that method is still great. But I alternate it with Pinky work, as it is a bit more physical, and fun. :)

(Oh and in a total nerd rush, I use a different ball for each show, and write the show on character on it. Then after, give it away. )

J.T. Turner
The Actors Sensei

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tips for College auditions, and some shameless promotions

Oh it is that magic time of year again.....auditions! Local theaters are having auditions, schools have had theirs, but for many of my Actors Sensei followers, it is time for some of the toughest auditions of all.....college auditions! So here are a few fast tips when auditioning for a Drama/Theater program at a college.

Before the Audition
  • Make sure you know what the criteria is, how long an audition piece, how many pieces etc..
  • Who will be in the room, who is the audition for?
  • Select audition pieces not just for time and type, but for passion. What will make you happy in the audition room, even if you never get into the school.
  • Practice, practice, practice, no cramming please.
  • Use a teacher or coach, not your friends, they give lousy advice.
  • Videotape and critique yourself.
  • Be sure you are rested, relaxed and ready
The Day of the Audition
  • If possible, plan to arrive a day ahead so that you are well rested.
  • Arrange your day so that you don’t have to rush.
  • Drink lots of water, and locate rest rooms near the audition space.
  • Eat lightly for energy (if you can); bland is probably best. Remember that certain foods bother your voice, avoid them!
  • Warm-up thoroughly, but don’t wear out.
  • Locate the audition room well ahead of your appointed time.
  • Dress appropriately. Dress like a person auditioning for a part, not like someone who HAS the part.
The Big Moment
  • Be personable and respectful when it’s your turn —first impressions count.
  • You may not get through your whole piece.Expect this and don’t let it bother you when they cut you off.
  • Anticipate less-than-ideal circumstances just in case. The room may be acoustically dry; the judges may be unfriendly. The room may be too hot, too cold; too small, too big.
  • Remember, they are looking for teach-able students, not perfection.Be passionate.
  • Be prepared for questions. 
  • Send a brief thank you note to someone—your prospective teacher, head of the department or someone in the admissions office.
Pitfalls--what NOT to do at an audition
  • Don’t ignore their requirements for repertoire or other expectations.
  • Don’t be under prepared.
  • Don’t listen to other people’s auditions.
  • Don’t be late.
  • Don’t make excuses.
As you know, I offer coaching and lessons on a regular basis. Look at me as I brag- I AM TOTALLY WORTH IT! If nothing else, you will get great practice and structure from a coaching session or two. I work out of Ipswich, MA, email me at jtactor@aol.com to set up an appointment.

I have often commented here about the need for a great head shot. Taking my own advice, I recently had new ones done by an amazing photographer, David Costa. The results were excellent, and I proudly join many "A" list Boston actors who David has as clients. The price is low compared with most photographers, and the work is superior, so it it is a win-win. David Costa can be contacted at mtlc819@aol.com or (508) 954-2460. Invest in yourself!

J.T. Turner
The Actors Sensei
Acting and Speaking Lessons for all ages.