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Backstage Experts

How Well Do You Know Your Craft?

How Well Do You Know Your Craft?
Photo Source: Pexels

Every year, thousands of young people decide they want to pursue acting. Many make that choice because they think it looks easy. And it looks easy because the great actors make it seem like they’re not really doing anything. But the truth is, they have worked very hard on their craft—that’s the key. Good acting may look easy, but it’s not.

For those of you who think you know a thing or two about the craft of acting, here’s a little quiz to test your knowledge.

1. The character is always you.

  • A) Yes
  • B) Sometimes
  • C) No
  • D) Yes and no

The answer? A. The character is always you. Who is uttering the words? Whose tears are flowing? Whose heart is racing? Who is wearing the costume? You must always begin with yourself. If you don’t, you will end up an empty shell.

2. Which of the following is NOT a good way to emotionally prepare to begin a scene?

  • A) Shooting hoops before entering.
  • B) Using an analogous situation from what the character is experiencing to tap into the character’s emotional life.
  • C) Imagining the same situation the character is going through.
  • D) Eating a lot of candy.

The answer? D. Getting pumped up on sugar can actually get in the way of your performance. To properly prepare, any one or a combination of the other answers are true. Tapping into your emotional life by imagining something to be true is what actors do and to do this, you must exercise and strengthen your actor’s imagination. If your character is in a playful state of mind perhaps playing basketball before entering may also help you get into the proper mindset.

READ: It’s Time to Rethink the Way You Train

3. What is acting?

  • A) Faking an emotion.
  • B) Pretending to be the best you can be.
  • C) Living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.
  • D) Hiding behind a character.

The answer? C. According to the great acting teacher and guru Sanford Meisner, acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances. It is a simple way to define what an actor does to create a performance you can believe. 

4. What is an acting teacher’s job?

  • A) To tell you how to say the lines.
  • B) To intimidate you to be your best.
  • C) To be your best friend.
  • D) To help you find your truth.

The answer? D. A good acting teacher will help you direct yourself with skill, guidance, and support. They will do this without ego and with a strong sense of self. You will feel welcomed and heard and an equal partner in the process. When a student asks, “How do I say this line?” a teacher must never give a response. Instead, they may ask you to reframe the question to, “What does the character want?” or “Why are they saying this line.

5. Which of the following is not true? To be a good actor you need to be...

  • A) Humble
  • B) A good human
  • C) Interested
  • D) Confident

The answer? Trick question! Every answer is correct. Good actors are not ego-driven; they’re interested in other people and they are kind. Other people want to work with them.

The truth is, many actors at every age approach acting by imitating what they have seen before or trying to make it look like they are having an experience that they’re not having. This is not acting. This is not related to acting. There is no life and there is no fun. Good acting is real, honest, and truthful.

Denise Simon is a New York-based acting coach. Backstage Expert, and author of “Parenting in the Spotlight: How to raise a child star without screwing them up.” For more information, check out Simon’s full bio! Master your craft, empower yourself, enjoy the journey.

Larry Silverberg is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Sanford Meisner technique of acting and an internationally acclaimed author. His newest book, “Winning Your Acting Auditions,” features 50 original monologues written for high school and college actors. In addition to being one of the most published acting coaches in the world and an award-winning actor/director, Larry is also the Master Teacher of Acting and Full Professor at renowned Shenandoah University Conservatory of Theatre. 

Get all of your acting questions answered by peers and experts on the Backstage Community forums! 

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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