Is Your Scene Study Class Holding You Back?

Actors who are serious about launching a film, TV, or theatre career are inevitably in search of a top tier scene study class—hopefully one that will get you results. Unfortunately, far too many so-called ‘scene study’ classes offer nothing more than an opportunity to do in depth scene work in the bubble of that acting class—rather than preparing you for the realities of performing that scene in the real world.

Inherently lazy actors expect a scene study class to be one in which you just show up and the teacher drops a stale 10-15 page theater scene on your lap and assigns you a scene partner. This may have been the M.O. in the seventies, but it is so far removed from anything relating to the demands of what it takes to launch a successful acting career today.

Your teacher should point you in the right direction and even show you where to find a treasure trove of thrilling scene choices to suit your unique singularity. However, they should never choose it for you, as it strips you of your power to choose material that’s inspiring to you.

The first day an actor becomes a member of our studio, we show them where to find all currently casting major film and TV auditions, and encourage them to work on something they’ve always imagined themselves playing.

1. Always keep your work in context.

It's vital that you work on a scene within a specific framework and context so you’re never acting within the bubble of an acting class and trying to please a teacher or your classmates.

Don’t expect a great ‘acting class performance’ to translate to a booked role or an award winning performance unless you're empowered by the teacher to practice how you play—hence, always keep your work in context!

Simply putting up scenes with a partner in a class without being challenged to define the context is a colossal waste of effort and energy as you’re doing all this work without maximizing your efforts. It’s like most of the math you learned in high school—you’ll never use it.

When choosing a scene to work on in class ask yourself how I would like to work on it and then tell your teacher, “Here’s the context in which I’m going to do this scene.” Here are some options: an audition piece for film or TV, a booked role, a scene for a piece of theater, a showcase or competition scene, etc.

Back when I first started teaching in Los Angeles, Amy Adams always worked on class material with a clear and specific intention for every working session. It was inspiring to see such focus, dedication, and work ethic.

2. Audition technique work should never be one size fits all.

When working on scene study for auditions it's very common for acting classes to have a one-size-fits-all approach to audition technique training.

This is extremely irresponsible as there are 15+ different styles and methods of auditioning: pre-read on tape for casting, chemistry read, callback, taped audition, Skype audition, callback for producers, etc.!

What you work on in class should be directly related in style and approach to how you're going to work on it in the real world, outside of an acting class. Period.

3. Never be forced to work with a scene partner.

When you’re forced to work with a scene partner and your partner doesn’t care enough about actually putting in the work, or they flake and don’t show up, you are then shit out of luck. And, you’ve just wasted your hard earned money and time.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, your words and thoughts create your reality. So force yourself to think bigger—as big as you want your career to be.

Your desire to join a high-caliber scene study acting class should be an informed decision—one in which you must be crystal clear about the results you expect.

Your acting class should be a reflection of the level and quality of the career you’ve always wanted. Our clients practice how they play—every class. This ensures that their work gets hard results in the real world: booked roles and launched careers.


This article was originally posted on Backstage