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Backstage Experts

Learning to Act Without a Class

Learning to Act Without a Class
Photo Source: Jordan Sondler

Q: I live in a place where acting schools don’t exist. Is it possible to learn acting at home? How? —@SOULYANNA1

Today’s actor can learn from anywhere! With online resources and community theater, actors can do everything remotely, from learning the basics and researching roles to studying techniques, analyzing scripts, and more.

The basics: With the internet at your fingertips, you can find useful video tips on YouTube about how to work with sides in an audition, break down a script, and memorize lines.

Research: Determine what kind of acting you want to pursue and do your research. Once you nail down the type of shows or films you’d like to target and roles you want to play, read everything you can about the business of acting (like in Backstage!).

Study: Books on acting are a great way to dive into your craft. Classic teachers like Uta Hagen, Stella Adler, and Sandy Meisner truly help you get in touch with your emotional life and teach you how to build a character. Michael Caine also has an excellent book called “Acting in Film,” and David Mamet has a wonderful series of acting books.

READ: 5 Ways to Become a Better Actor

Analyze: Once you have the basics of how to build a character and break down a script, start working with sides. Get comfortable choosing characters that resonate with you. Learn the story of the sides, how your character fits in, and why you say what you say in the scene. Then memorize the sides. The more you work with sides, the easier it gets.

Self-tape: Record the sides you’re practicing and play back your work. This is an excellent way to see where you can improve. Ask a fellow actor to be your reader, someone who reads the other characters’ lines in your scene.

Perform locally: Get involved in community theater so you have a chance to be around other actors. Community theater allows you to see the behind-the-scenes activities that are performed to help run a production smoothly. You’ll get firsthand knowledge about how to rehearse for a play, work with other actors, take direction from a director, and hit your mark. Through your community theater, you can find actors who may be interested in getting a group together to work on sides, tape scenes, and practice breaking down scripts so when audition opportunities arise, you’ll be ready.

Melonie “Mel” Mack has worked in entertainment in NYC and L.A. for more than 17 years. Mel began teaching 10 years ago, helping actors find comedic timing within scripts. Mel’s national commercial credits include Verizon, Nutella, Toyota, Bud Lite, Pampers, Visa, and Ikea, among hundreds of others. Mel has worked with renowned artists Damian Lewis, Jamie Chung, Eva Longoria, and Madonna, to name a few. Mel owns and operates Mel Mack Acting Studio (MMAS), offering education programming, ranging from classes and workshops to career coaching and advice sessions. She also runs a casting support business, running casting sessions that position her in the room.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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