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The perfect person to speak to about a program you’re interested in is someone who is in the program – not a freshman, but a junior or senior – they can give you perspectives on all levels of the program, and you can decide if it’s a good fit for you. And of course, visiting the campus, investigating fees, books, curriculum, professors, and facilities are important. There are many schools out there – don’t rush – find the one that is best for you.
It’s the same if you’re looking for an acting class. Talk to someone who has completed the class, or is almost complete to get a sense of the teaching style. If you can, visit the facility and see where you would be learning if you took the class. View the area for food options if you’ll need to grab dinner between work and classes there. Is transit nearby, if that is your form of transportation from high school, to this after school program? Think about how the class fits with your current life.
Schools for On-Camera Acting
Training in a post-secondary acting program from industry professionals is a fantastic way to understand the industry, learn from those who have experience and training, and make connections. Adding training to your resume not only makes you more hireable, but it might connect some reputable names to yours – and a director knowing your teacher opens the door for a good reference, and it may confirm your credibility.
There are universities that teach acting for the small and big screen which is great if you know which medium you would like to enter. If you are just interested in all on camera or all acting, then there are also more general programs.
Commercial Acting Training
There are acting schools with classes on commercial acting, but not many, so make sure you investigate. Most TV&film acting programs, or Theater programs with an on-camera acting component will have a section on commercial acting, to produce a more well-rounded actor. Just investigate what classes and units of classes are in your programs of interest, to see if commercial acting is included. However, if you want to do commercials exclusively, then taking classes dedicated to them would be best. Commercial acting is a specific skill, so taking a class or two or three on it would be ideal.
And watching commercials is a good idea! Notice in the burger commercials – they only ever take one bite – that’s an actual rule – more than one bite looks gluttonous on screen. Figure these things out, so when you go to an audition, they see someone who is already giving them what they’re looking for.
Schools for Stage Acting
Post-secondary theater programs are the best way to understand the particular skill of recreating life with added projection. Unlike on-camera acting, theater acting can’t be done by simply ‘acting natural’ because vocal, emotional and physical projection is necessary for the actor to communicate to all of the audience. Adding this training to your resume lets directors know that you have the skills needed to take the extra steps needed in stage acting. Also, it might connect some reputable names to yours – and a director knowing your teacher opens the door for a good
Many theater programs have classes on the other elements of theater-like a set, light design, and stage management, to produce informed and educated performers. Make sure to look at the ratio of acting to non-acting classes offered by programs so you are getting exactly what you want.
Preparing for Auditions for Theater School
Genre is important to some theater companies or for drama school. Investigate the don’ts, because some school has a lot. Some schools don’t allow props, most don’t want pop songs (if a song is required for an audition,) some want a non-Shakespeare classic…. Check before you start rehearsing the wrong material.
Auditioning for Theater School
Usually, if a theater school has a performance element to the degree, they will hold auditions before offering admission. If a program does not have an audition process, they probably don’t have any studio or technical elements to the program and it may be all theoretical and history-based. Check to make sure you’re getting what you want.
Typically the audition will consist of one classical monologue, one contemporary monologue, a song, and possibly an improved session and interview. They usually ask the monologues to be contrasting, generally one comedic and one dramatic. They usually require a resume, some a headshot as well (usually non-professional is acceptable), and most enjoy you bringing in any other theatrical or musical talents you have to share (For example puppetry, guitar playing, tap dancing). But if they don’t allow or encourage that, make sure those skills are on your resume, and mention them in your interview.
Some popular questions asked in theater school interviews:
- What do you like about acting?
- What did you choose our program?
- What is the show you liked the most out of the shows you have seen recently?
- What do you hope to do after you leave a post-secondary theater program?
- What do you like to do other than acting?
The Acting School of Life!
The best way to study a variety of characters is to look at your own life and the lives of those around you. Try new things as often as you can, you never know when you’ll have to play a snowboarder or horseback rider and what luck you’ll be in when the casting director is looking for someone who already has experience.
And look at the lives around you – the crazy lady in the mall’s health store or the couple fighting in the food court may be characters you’ll have to play someday. Watch them, their mannerisms, the inflection their voice, what tactics they use to get what they want from the person their talking to. And if you can talk to that crazy lady – she doesn’t know you don’t want seaweed flavored coffee – you just want to capture her character for a special audition.