Just like baseball, it’s really hard to practice acting on your own. You can do a bunch of drills and such to stay sharp, but it’s just not the same as playing in a game or being in a play or film. Acting is, by far, the most collaborative of all the artforms. As such, you need a bunch of things to really be doing it. First and foremost, you need material and other people.
Just accept this as a reality of the path you chose. (And remember…”you chose this path, it didn’t choose you”…as my first acting mentor said to me way back when.)
Now, there are two things you can do about it.
Work your ass off at the business side of things so you get as many at bats (auditions) as possible. Which then hopefully leads to you getting to play actual games (booking work).
“Deliberate practice is characterized by several elements, each worth examining. It is activity designed specifically to improve performance, often with a teacher’s help; it can be repeated a lot; feedback on results is continuously available; it’s highly demanding mentally, whether the activity is purely intellectual, such as chess or business-related activities, or heavily physical, such as sports; and it isn’t much fun.” -Geoff Colvin, Talent Is Overrated
Doing the same thing over and over again? Mindlessly. Not trying to get better. Not seeking out honest, critical feedback. Not being open to new ideas. Not pushing yourself. Not growing. Not stretching. Not learning.
I love listening to plays. When they’re good, oh man, the imagination just runs wild. LA Theatre Works does a phenomenal job. Check them out if you’re not already familiar.
This got me thinking…
The next time you write a play or a screenplay, what if when you finished, no matter what, you also committed to turning it into a podcast?
This I think would accomplish several things.
ONE. Instead of just hoping someone reads your material and decides to produce it (the odds are heavily stacked against you), you’ll have made something yourself. The whole process of getting a director and a cast and tightening the script and rehearsing and then eventually recording it, will be its own reward. You’ll have learned so much and will have this cool, finished product to mark your efforts.
TWO. Should you decide to send out your script to potential producers, you can also send them the podcast. Your message to them: “Here I wrote this. And I know you’re really busy, so if you’d rather listen to it instead, check out this podcast version I also made.” Talk about signaling and showing someone you’re serious! You cared so much about the material that you took the time to make it into a podcast. That’s significant.
THREE. You can put the podcast out there for anyone to listen. Solicit feedback should you want it. Or just for their entertainment value. Or both.
FOUR. All the hard work and time and money you put into making the podcast might just inspire you to not wait around for someone else and instead, make the movie or produce the play yourself. Now we’re talking.
How to know if this is the play you want to produce? Assuming you found something you love, so much so that you’re even considering it for production, ask yourself two questions:
(1) “Do I think that with my passion and the resources and talent at my disposal, I can do a production that’s as good as anyone else can do?” Meaning that not more money, a bigger space, etc…would make this any better. That you can do a definitive production. If you can’t, find something else. You owe it to the play and the playwright to move on.
(2) “If this were the last play I ever did, would this be the one I was proud to go out on?”
Even if the answer to these questions is not a resounding yes, but more of a meek “it might be”, that’s enough to proceed. Hey, it’s art. You never really know. You just need to feel like you have a chance at doing something great.