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, May 7, 2015

tumblr_inline_mj5c5dAPaJ1qz4rgp.jpg (440×320)

Hello fellow players! ( Not to be confused with play-ahs). I have had this blog for some time now, and want to visit the inspiration for the title.

 As you likely know in his play Hamlet, Shakespeare has the main character give advice to an acting troupe he has hired to perform a play before his Mother and her husband, his Uncle the new King. And he gives advice to the players that is still sound for all performers.

Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to                                   
you, trippingly on the tongue:

Simple advice, which many directors have said to actors over many years, "just say the lines!". Respect the words the writer wrote and get them into the air. One of the first things I do with actors working on Shakespeare i make them just say the words aloud to let them exsist in sound.

 but if you mouth it,
as many of your players do, I had as lief the
town-crier spoke my lines. 

Wait, William just said to just say the lines! True, but don't just say them. Yes, let the words carry thier own weight, but bring yourself to them. Do not just recite them, speak them as though they were your own, or your characters. I think the key here is to bring the right amount of acting to bear. Maybe the role needs you to be giant, and over the top, if that is what the play points to. But chances are the author and director would like you genuine.

Nor do not saw the air
too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently;

Don't flap like a fish. Not everything you say needs a gesture to emphasize it, let the gestures be natural and organic.

for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say,
the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget

a temperance that may give it smoothness

Oh the greatest challenge of all. Making this thing, this acting thing seem seamless. To be submerged into your character and let the glimpse of that characters life be as natural as your own is.

Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion
be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the
word to the action

68ff1555a28b77cd4b3f0f3df7369b68.jpg (600×450)

Be active, even when relaxed or quiet. Will says be not too tame, but we may say be not too lame. Do not be so laid back and casual that you lose your audience. But do as the Bard suggests, suit the action to the word and word to the action. Again, as a writer, Shakespeare reminds us to respect the writing, embrace the words that you are building your show on. Are there times when a director, or you, might try to play against an emotion to highlight it? Of course! Delivering a horrible experience in a cold, controlled voice instead of tears and wails may be just what it needs to convery the horror as the author intended.

Good advice, and over 400 years old! And great for playing Shakespeare, but do not discount how well this works even with contemporary plays as well.

Need some coaching on a classic monologue? Contact me! jtactor@aol.com
Skype session available.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hold the whine!

Hello readers! I was thinking recently, as I make the rounds of auditions, that it might be worth while to revisit a key point for all of you also making auditions rounds.

Hold the whine.

There is always a reason not to audition. I am a strong believer in preaching my great mantra, "Life is about showing up". Showing up at an audition makes the chances of you being cast so much better than the odds of you being cast by not showing up, So showing up is terrific and I commend you on it.

Now, shut up.

No, bot fully, I want you to do your audition piece and be brilliant. I want you to introduce yourself, make good eye contact, be polite and professional. But I want you to shut up,,,,,,,shut up all your excuses. All your aches, pains, challenges, crippling issues and just do the audition.

You will be asked by the people you are auditioning for, "How are you today?" or some similar nicety. This is not an invitation for you to trot out all your fears, ills and excuses.'

"I am so sorry, I have a sore throat today...."
"I am really fighting allergies today..."
"I haven't totally memorized this piece..."
"This is the only key I could find this song in...."
" I am really nervous...."
"I didn't have a chance to practice this very much,,,"
"My dog ate my audition copy...."
"I was up late chain watching episodes of Daredevil..."

Shut. Up.  I know the temptation to give out a qualifier is tremendous, but don't do it. Just present your work as strongly as you can and move on. Listen, we all have imperfect auditions, this blog entry was inspired by a recent audition I had where I caught myself explaining I was using a different key for some music and it was throwing me off. I stopped, and just sang it. It was not perfect, but the audition as a whole was much stronger when I dropped the excuse making.

If you truly feel something was a major wipe out, simply ask if you could start over or do it again. Most times you will be allowed to, but if it is a no, be gracious, thank them and leave.

Just dropping the excuses will improve your mainframe, and help you come across as a professional.

J.T. Turner, The Actors Sensei
Available for monologue coaching in person or via Skype

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Comparison Shopping

Hello there! After a long hiatus, I am back to the world of blogging! This time out, comparison shopping.

Oh you know, when you are in the market for something and compare and contrast several different items. This car has tinted windows, this one has anti-lock brakes, this one is roomier. We often do comparisions of every thing from milk, to coffee, to furniture or phones. Surely you have seen zombies at the grocery store? You know, standing there swaying as they gaze at labels of 2 different items, then slowly put one back and get another. Zombies.

Well what does that have to do with you and your career as an actor, dancer, musician, performer or speaker? Just this; one of the worst things you can do to yourself is the comparision game. Comparing your talents and career to someone else is a deadly, dibilitating, dangerous and ......some other d word, (for alliteration), habit.

It is also a common one, and not just for performers. So amd so always gets more roles than I do. XYZ has the gigs I should be getting. I want to sing like this one, wish I was as tall as that one, I could work more if only I had the traits of  her, or his connections. This type of thinking just tends to depress us, and paralyze us into inactivity.

As I am writing this, I  realize that we all do this and not just in the performing arena. Thanks to the wonders of social media, we often have the perception that people are busier or more successful that we are. Listen, I do not tend to be harsh here, you know I am a fan of the positive, and trust me I am being positive in saying, drop the comparision. You are you, that is your product, that is your goods, that is what you have to share with the world. Yes, get training, hone yourself to be the best you that you can be, learn all the time and grow, but forget the comparison. Watch other performers, be inspired or encouraged by them to try something new, but don't wallow in the lowlands of  'I wish...".

And let me startle you with the true thought that there is someone who envys you, and the skills and life you have. Crazy, huh? But true.

There is a popular idea in the world of exercise that the only person you have to beat is you, from yesterday. By all means, compare yourself with yourself, and how you did yesterday. But also cut yourself some slack, and be gentle with yourself.

Be your biggest fan.