Saturday, July 12, 2008
12:15:00 AM EDT
Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.
Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington,
Don't put your daughter on the stage,
Though they said at the school of acting
She was lovely as Peer Gynt,
I'm afraid on the whole
An ingnue role
Would emphasize her squint,
She's a big girl, and though her teeth are fairly good
She's not the type I ever would
Be eager to engage,
No more buts,
Don't put your daughter on the stage.
I don't think there is any enterprise that has more phonies in it than show business (except perhaps politics). I have seen and, unfortunately, had to work with a lot of "actors" and "directors" who didn't know what they were doing. I think I will address the question of good directors and idiotic directors on another day. Now I'll discuss the poor creatures who think they know how to be actors, but don't.
It seems so easy. Someone goes to see a play or a film and says "What's the big deal. I can do that." They start imagining themselves in front of a cheering audience or up on the silver screen, bigger than life. So they get into an amateur production somewhere and come out with some if the most egregious bad acting; artificial, rubber stamp, cliched nonsense. Their friends all tell them how good they were and they're convinced. Or maybe they have a favorite actor. Then they come out doing a bad impression of Marlon Brando or Katherine Hepburn.
Maybe they are really serious about it and go to an acting school. Some of the biggest and most dangerous charlatans in the business are acting teachers. A lot of them haven't been actors themselves, or if so, not for very long. Usually what they are are directors. I always tell youngsters, if they ask me, to study with an actor not a director for the simple reason that if you want to learn to play the clarinet, do you study with a clarinetist or a conductor? What they learn from a director is only how to deal with that director.
I've seen kids come to New York with some moronic theory about acting from some Drama School somewhere and face the misery of having to have that theory beaten out of them by the brass knuckles reality of professional theatre.
I did a show in Florida years ago, All the members of the cast were seasoned professional, of all ages, except the girl, who was a recent graduate from some big fancy Academy of the Arts somewhere in the South. This girl didn't know anything. She had no idea at all what we do as actors, but she thought she did. One of the other actors in the show said to me, on the sly, that she should go to that school and ask for her money back.
There was an acting teacher in New York who said to his students not to audition for anything or do any acting work at all, but to study with him for three years, do what he said and at the end they would be ready to be actors. I hope he was arrested. There was another teacher who said that if he got an acting job he would be away from the class and that he hoped his students would do the same. He was a very popular, very good teacher. Some of his students are famous.