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Backstage Experts

The 1 Thing Actors Aren’t Doing in Their Auditions

The 1 Thing Actors Aren’t Doing in Their Auditions


That’s the thing. What happened to that?

Since the beginning of time, that’s the real reason to be an actor. When did we lose this sense of play?

Isn’t that why you signed up for that Acting 101 class in college? It wasn’t just to discover that there were lots of kids just like yourself. You enrolled because it simply looked fun.

What happened along the way?

When did acting—and auditioning—and the pursuit of a life in the arts become a big fat dramatic tragedy?

Well we’re a tad obsessed with drama. (Turn on any episode of “The Bachelor,” and you’ll understand. It’s a cultural epidemic!) But somewhere along the line, we confused something that is purely an expression of joy and wild abandon for something that is painful and hard and full of suffering.

Watch kids play. They play. They commit. They say yes. They do it their way. They believe in their world 100 percent without having to do sense memory to get there. That’s because it’s all there—even at such a young age. It’s there for us too. Always. Regardless of our age.

Just because we’ve gotten older or been rejected or become a tad jaded or have shut our heart to possibility doesn’t mean that the authentic child-like spirit of who we are isn’t still alive within us. It is.

And the work (called a “play”) wants to extract it. It wants to wring it out of you and leave it all dripping on the stage floor or the film set. But we get triggered in perceptions (“How do I look?”) and doing things right (“How does this look?”) and having to be good (“How do you think I look?”) and measuring up (“How do I look compared to him?”).

You don’t have anything to prove. You just have to give yourself permission.

Like kids do. Permission to play is what provides possibility for us.

Give up the “too cool for school” card and be vulnerable. Give up the cynicism for laughter. Give up the embarrassment for going all in. Give up the jadedness for being open. Give up the textbooks and doing it “right” and being perfect for the messiness of being alive and imperfect and creating your own how-to manual.

When you do, not only will you have fun, but you’ll also realize that’s really the only reason you ever wanted to do it in the first place.

To play.

Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer, director, producer, and artistic director of Anthony Meindl's Actor Workshop (AMAW) with studios in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Vancouver. It was honored by Backstage three years in a row and named the Best Acting Studio in Los Angeles (Best Scene Study and Best Cold Read).

Meindl's first feature film, “Birds of a Feather,” won the Spirit of the Festival Award at the 2012 Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival, and he won Best Director at the Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles. It releases on iTunes and DVD in March of 2014. He is a regular contributor to The Daily Love, Backstage, and various spirituality podcasts. He has been featured in ABC News, Daily Variety, LA Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, and CW KTLA. He has been a guest speaker at the GATE 2013 Story Conference, founded by Jim Carrey and Eckhart Tolle, and David Lynch's Masters in Film Program (Maharishi University of Management).

He is also the author of the best-selling creativity book, At Left Brain Turn Right, which helps artists of all kinds unleash their creative genius within. Check out Meindl's free smartphone app on iTunes. Follow Meindl on Twitter @AnthonyMeindl

Meindl's 2nd book, Alphabet Soup For Grown-Ups, comes out this November.

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