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The Craft

Finding Your Voice as an Actor

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Finding Your Voice as an Actor
Photo Source: Pak Han Poto
I remember William Hickey quoting Rosalind Russell back in 1980: "Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly." He also said, "Actors must be like children playing in the field that have forgotten all the rules."

I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as "acting"; there is only "life." I was taught a long time ago, as a young actor in the late 1970s, that when you bring your love of the craft to class, you change the way other actors and teachers look at you. By applying that same love to the stage or set, you change the way the actors, industry, and audience look at you, and it allows you to fulfill your desire to be great.

Being an actor is much more than expensive headshots, more than just smiling for the camera or the way you walk into a room. It's about being a part of something greater than just yourself; it is your heart as an actor, the colors of your soul, the way you wake every morning and question the universe, your very being as an actor and a person, and this thing we all do and want to be successful at.

My aim as a teacher of the craft is to help all of my students find their own voice as an actor. Acting is a living, breathing process that happens every day and does not happen overnight. Becoming an actor is learning a new way of thinking and of looking at life. Just as you make choices in life that determine your success or your failure, the same goes for the choices you make as an actor.

Good acting requires that you study to master the craft. My method teaches actors how to achieve and respond to honest emotions both on- and off-camera by using certain principles: innocence, imagination, vulnerability, and instincts. Using these principles encourages actors to experience rather than indicate an emotion. We work on this on a conscious level in the classroom, so my students can use it on a subconscious level on a set or stage. I don't waste time dictating about whose method is best; I encourage my students to mix and match different methods and find what works for them. I also teach them to turn it into performance.

John Pallotta at John Pallotta Studio is making a name for himself as an acting coach in New York City, boasting Academy and Emmy award winners as his students. An award-winning playwright, actor, and coach, Pallotta also has studios in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Visit www.johnpallotta.com.

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