Are you afraid? So am I....
I am a nervous actor - that is something I will wholeheartedly admit to. I doubt myself often, I find improvisation extremely scary and I am constantly told to ‘open up’.
As soon as I came to the Actors Temple there was one comment that really resonated with me and it was the first issue that Sanford Meisner said the actor faces - we are sometimes too self-conscious. When I started the Foundation course the other week and I heard that, I felt a pang of hope - it has been one of the biggest issues that I've tried to overcome in my acting and maybe if we can start talking about it, I can begin to overcome it. However, the Meisner technique is not just limited to the ‘nervous actor’ - our group is a real mix and it’s a training that I think every actor needs to undergo. It explores instinct and emotion and behaviour in such a truthful way that any actor who wants to expand and work on their ability should attend some classes.
I came to acting very late - I did one-off youth groups and acting classes but nothing for more than a couple of months. It wasn't until University and I joined the Theatre Group there did I become more involved in drama. After doing several plays at university, I have since been auditioning for drama school and joined Putney Theatre Company where I'm currently rehearsing my second show. However, it wasn't until I started on the drama school circuit did I realise just how self-conscious I was not just in terms of my acting but myself as a person. For example, there were exercises involving improvisation, interviews and redirection and I wouldn't trust my own instincts or impulses. I was too stuck in my own head and I found it hard to trust myself, my imagination and all my preparation.
I think this was emphasised more when I began to compare myself to other people in these situations. Particularly in the auditions, I came across people who were lovely but they had this confidence and spontaneity; they weren't afraid of jumping right in and making mistakes and looking a certain way in front of a group of strangers. I remember standing there wishing that I could get out of my own head - that I could stop caring and just start playing like the rest of these people. There would always be exercises where we have to release emotion or move the body in a certain way or improvise in a scene and I would always just be so nervous. I've been told by different teachers and audition panels and directors that I'm tense; that I always come across as overly smiley rather than actually being myself.
I know that being nervous in acting is something that a lot of people do feel. While there are all the confident actors out there and you will meet them all the time, there's a lot of us who doubt and question and find it hard to step away from thinking so much.
I was told by one panel that taking some acting classes and movement classes would really help me to regain my sense of self and start stripping away that self-consciousness which is currently blocking me so...here I am, I’m at the Actors Temple and I'm hoping that this fear will start to be pulled away and I can really begin to explore and enjoy and play and create (all things that I feel like I haven't had the chance to do so much of yet). And it's true and sort of overwhelming when I think about how much already that fear has been addressed and slowly uncovered. Meisner seems to be the perfect answer to my fear and I can't believe I didn't try it before. I know that there's lots of different training I need to go through as well - while it is starting to unlock my body and release tension, I do need to take other movement classes which focus solely on the body.
I think it's important to realise as well that you're never going to completely rid yourself of the fear and that's okay - in fact, that's necessary. If you're not always slightly scared or nervous then you become complacent and nothing grows out of complacency. I should probably also say that you might be reading this and thinking, I'm not scared at all and never get that fear, and that's okay also and I will admit that I slightly envy you. It's important to note that within acting everyone has their own strengths and their own weaknesses and their own anxieties and that's necessary. I do hope that after completing this course and taking some movement classes and really exploring training and playing that... hopefully I will start to see some changes.
If you want to find out more about this Foundation course that has started to address all my fears then read more here.
After studying English Literature and Theatre at the University of Leeds and becoming an active member of the university’s Theatre Group, Sophia realised acting was the right path for her. After living in France for a year to feed her love for travelling and tutoring, she’s now back in London to follow the actor/blogger dream. She loves exploring all things ‘drama’ and hopes to one day be in productions that can give a powerful voice to important issues and delve into challenging roles. She is currently studying at The Actors Temple on The Foundation Course and is a keen blogger busy travelling around interviewing alumni, trying out new classes, reviewing the latest shows and ultimately exploring this world of ‘acting’!