What is an Acting Workshop?
An acting workshop is a class in which actors can work on improving their skills, usually under the direction of one or more people who provide coaching for the people in the workshop. The art of acting has something in common with the arts of dance and music. All of these forms of art rely just as much on muscle memory and rehearsal as they do on raw talent or technique. For actors, one of the best ways to strengthen their performance muscles is through acting workshops. An acting workshop is to an actor what a rehearsal studio is to a musician or dancer — it's the bridge between theory and performance.
These workshops usually are staffed by professionals in the acting world, and they might be coaches, directors or actors themselves. Different aspects of acting are covered during organized session times. Some students might want to learn more about a topic such as stage combat, and others might seek advice on vocal projection or script interpretation. During an acting workshop, informal groups often work on improvisational skills or even psychological issues that can hinder a performance.
In major markets such as Los Angeles, New York, London and Chicago, attending acting workshops is practically a requirement for serious actors and actresses. Breaking into the acting profession has never been easy, so many struggling performers take advantage of any edge they can get. Enrolling in a respected acting workshop can introduce a fledgling actor to some established professionals in the business. An acting workshop often features classes on the technical and political sides of the acting business as well, giving students a more realistic portrait of the craft that they are trying to pursue.
An acting workshop if often viewed by an actor as an investment in himself or herself as well as a chance to learn stagecraft in a professional setting. Performing in smaller productions, such as those found at community theaters, does not always provide enough experience and training to allow an actor to succeed in professional auditions. An acting workshop can help an actor polish a monologue or improve diction and delivery. The instructor might also be a casting director, so his or her advice can prove very valuable. Without the extra training provided by an acting workshop, many would-be actors find themselves unable to compete with more experienced actors during the all-important audition process.
@JaneAir - That program sounds great but I can see why it would be the first thing to go in the event of a budget cut.
In my opinion workshops are a great tool for networking. They say that half the key to getting a job is in who you know, and if you don't network, you'll never meet anyone. My boyfriend is a DJ and he has made a lot great contacts at workshops that have helped him get gigs.
I read an interesting article awhile ago about a very different type of acting workshop: a workshop for inmates in a federal prison. I believe the program is based in California and it sounds like a really great idea.
Basically the inmates attend an acting workshop every few weeks and eventually put on performances for the other inmates. The acting lessons help them deal with their emotions and actually cuts down on prison violence. It also helps the inmates put aside their gang affiliations and whatever else and interact with each other just as human beings.
I know most people think prison is for punishment but it is also for rehabilitation and these workshops work towards that goal. I was sad to see in the article that the program might be discontinued due to budget cuts.
As a secondary theatre arts teacher, I am always looking for new opportunities in terms of acting workshop gigs for my kids. These kinds of classes can give them a real glimpse of not just better acting but also into the way that they can often expect their college classes to look like.
Acting workshops are often completely rigorous and extremely fun for up and coming actors. They also offer them the opportunity to network and to see all kinds of other people from different walks of life. Being from a rural community, this is invaluable to my students.
I have gone as far as taking my kids across the entire state of NC for a whirlwind weekend jam packed full of acting workshops and shows at different private liberal arts schools and state universities to give them a well-rounded view of what is out there.
Acting workshops are fantastic resources for people who want to enhance their thespian skills. However, some of them can be extraordinarily expensive and, in particular, specialty kinds of workshops can put a real dent in the wallet.
There are many different kinds of acting and performance workshops available to both the advanced and the novice, ranging from things like the actual acting craft, combat, dialect and even mime. All of these can be extremely beneficial or totally unnecessary depending on a specific actor’s niche.
One way to get around the cost is to check out local community colleges and universities to see what they have brewing. There are many times than you can get into a workshop hosted at one of those places for a fraction of the cost that getting into a private class would.
Those serious about acting and serious about their performance quality will find that these kinds of opportunities are only bested by actual performance experience and therefore worth the costs.
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