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Secret Agent Man

An Open Letter to Workshop Companies

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An Open Letter to Workshop Companies
Dear Owners of Reel Pros, AIA Actors Studio, One on One, TVI, the Casting Network, In the Act, and all the other wonderful workshop companies that serve the acting community and the entertainment industry:

I've been attending your workshops for more than 10 years now, and for the most part I've always had a positive experience. As you know, I enjoy meeting new actors. It's fun! And if memory serves, I've met thousands of actors thanks to you. I think I even signed one.

I'm sure you're busy searching for the stars of tomorrow, but if you have a moment, I'd like to point out a few shortcomings in the way you run your businesses. These are minor points at best, so please don't be concerned that I might stop attending. As long as you keep writing those checks, I'll keep showing up.

Now, let's use the last workshop I did as an example. As always, the evening kicked off with a question-and-answer session. These never seem to go well. I feel like I'm constantly answering the same questions: How many clients do you have? What do you look for in an actor? Will you validate me with your love? I think the session would go better if your moderators could brainstorm with the actors before the workshop begins. That way, they might come up with some creative questions that might actually serve a purpose. Thank you.

After a half-hour of those mindless questions, the moderator came out of his coma and announced it was time to see some great acting. To be honest, I cringed, because I never know what to expect at your workshops. I've watched scenes so bad I wanted to scoop my eyes out with a melon baller.

As the work began, I stared in horror as two actors performed the scene from "Pulp Fiction" where John Travolta has dinner with Uma Thurman. I couldn't focus on the acting because I kept thinking about the movie. That Tarantino is one gifted dude, isn't he? When the actors were done butchering his writing, the next two performers jumped up and did a comedic scene that felt oddly familiar. I couldn't quite place it till they referred to each other as Joey and Chandler.

I'm still surprised by how you allow your actors to choose scenes from famous movies and TV shows. This is always a bad idea. It doesn't matter if they're talented enough to make the material their own. They're always going to suffer by comparison. So can you please check who's doing what before you allow the actors to perform for your industry guests? Thank you.

When the scenes were over, I was ready to head home, but I found my path blocked by a few actors. At first I thought, "This is it. The rebellion has begun." But no, that nightmare still isn't real. Not yet anyway. It turned out that one actor just wanted to check if he'd written the right number on his résumé. As I fumbled with the massive stack of pictures I was carrying, another actor jumped in and asked how soon he could expect to hear from me. Before I could respond, everyone else started handing me their reels.

I have to run an obstacle course like this every time I attend one of your workshops. Most workshops end after 9 p.m. That's a long day for me. When the scenes are over, all I want is to go home and see what's on my DVR. It would be terrific if you could instruct your moderators to help me navigate the sea of needy faces that stand between me and a graceful exit. Thank you.

That just about covers it. I appreciate your being open to my suggestions. Keep up the good work, keep reaching for the stars, and I'll see you at the next workshop!

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