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How Technology Can Hurt You As An Actor

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How Technology Can Hurt You As An Actor

I recently went to dinner with some of my casting director and agent friends who helped me shape my technique and were a huge support when I began teaching 15 years ago. We talked about how casting has changed over the years and how more auditions are submitted on tape and the affect of online submissions. Then they asked what the biggest change in my teaching has been. The answer didn’t surprise any of us. I am teaching actors how to be still, pay attention, listen, and react. I am teaching them how to be a strong presence in the room, how to hold a space and connect to the auditors. It’s not that I didn’t always teach how important these things were, the difference is now I am teaching people how to do these things.

This is the how technology has affected acting. Five years ago and beyond, there was no texting or emailing. You spoke to people in person or on the phone. In the course of any given day, you would have perhaps 20 phone conversations and 15 meetings, both professional and social. Today, a phone conversation is considered personal, and you can go days communicating with people without actually seeing them.

The problem isn’t the technology – it’s our overuse of it that's made us numb. The tablet and smartphone are just sitting there – we’re the ones who can’t put them down. It’s not necessarily true that just because you are communicating you are connecting, and when you start to lose your ability to connect in life you will lose it in your work.

Here's an example. A while back, I had a student who was about 20 years old. He spoke frequently about his current – and ex – girlfriends. So, one week I gave him a really intense break up scene, Slam dunk, right? Wrong. The scene was flat and generic and contained none of his energy and life. I asked him about his choices and he said he had trouble making interesting ones. Here’s what happened next:

Me: OK. Did you ever have any heated arguments with your ex-girlfriend?

Student: Yeah, but usually not in person. Angry texts, mostly.

Me: Well, how did you break up?

Student: I emailed her

Me: Have you ever told your current girlfriend that you love her?

Student: I’ve texted it to her.

Me: No wonder.

I feel genuinely sorry for this kid and all that he is missing in his life. It is also depressing to know that when he has an audition that requires him to access any of the rawness, harshness, or tenderness of life he will most likely come up short as he did in class, because his “experiences” seem to involve only himself – and a phone.

The fix isn’t that hard. Simply be more discerning about how you communicate. How can you best express what you have to say? Do you just need a quick answer? Text. Do you need to confirm and send information about an appointment? Email. Do you need reassurance before a big audition? Call. Does someone need your support and comfort? Show up in person. Try to not unconsciously text and email and challenge yourself to make more phone calls and increase your in person interactions. Most of all be mindful of the needs of the situation and of the other person and you’ll find the appropriate way to communicate.

So many of the jobs in our industry and others have changed because of technology. Acting shouldn’t be one of them. Since the Greeks, acting has been about telling stories, about feeling, about relating. And it still is. As we go deeper down the rabbit hole of technology, it becomes increasingly important that human stories be told so that audiences are reminded that as great as technology is – there is nothing like the pure beauty of human connection.

Now put away the phone, the tablet, and the laptop and get out into the world. Talk to people, look them in the eye, listen to what they have to say, and be open to how they feel. Feed your storytelling soul. Be a person on the planet. Be an actor.

Craig Wallace is the creator and award-winning teacher of The Wallace Audition Technique, an audition preparation system that he developed based on his years of experience as a studio executive, talent agent and casting consultant. In his 14 years of teaching, he has seen the careers of hundreds of his students take off. He is also the author of the best-selling book, “The Best of You – Winning Auditions Your Way.”

Craig is currently teaching his audition technique classes and his Meditation for Actors classes in Santa Monica, CA. For more information visit www.wallaceauditiontechnique.com.

You can follow Craig on Twitter @craigteach and like him on Facebook.

Craig Wallace is the creator and award-winning teacher of The Wallace Audition Technique, an audition preparation system that he developed based on his years of experience as a studio executive, talent agent and casting consultant. In his 14 years of teaching, he has seen the careers of hundreds of his students take off. He is also the author of the best-selling book, “The Best of You – Winning Auditions Your Way.”

Craig is currently teaching his audition technique classes and his Meditation for Actors classes in Santa Monica, CA. For more information visit www.wallaceauditiontechnique.com.

You can follow Craig on Twitter @craigteach and like him on Facebook.

- See more at: http://www.backstage.com/advice-for-actors/backstage-experts/how-become-more-charismatic/#sthash.7r373fPS.dpuf

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