The Dangers of Acting Crash Courses

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In this age of immediacy with social media giving us access to information and entertainment at our fingertips, we all find ourselves living in the fast lane. We can go on Google and search anything in seconds, rather than trekking to the library, and we can immediately access YouTube and Hulu for entertainment, instead of going to a theater or a movie theater. Everything is fast and quick, so as actors, we look to see if there are shortcuts to everything, including training and building an acting career.

There are acting schools and classes that promise two-year programs in six weeks, and everything you need to know seminars in a day. But is quicker better? Can a four-day class or a weekend boot camp really extend the same information and develop the necessary skills for an actor as well as longterm study?

Powerful training that is career-making is like a birth. Meisner said the first year of the technique brings the actor to life. An actor in this technique will train and bring their talent to life.

Jumping off from this analogy, imagine cutting short or fast-tracking an actual birth? It is clearly not healthy or wise to try to quick fix or speed up this process of producing a healthy baby, and although it may seem like an odd comparison, it’s actually not so different. An actor who trains must take the time practically required to learn, perfect, and grow to emerge artistically whole and healthy.

Training that promises to condense the necessary process is likely to omit information and the time required to master it, risking creating less competent, and consequently, less confident actors.

It is true that fully trained actors can make great use of even one coaching session with an audition coach, or by going to a seminar or taking a workshop that targets a specific topic with an expert. These short-term opportunities can add an element to their skill sets, refresh their work, and be very valuable, but this cannot substitute, for beginning students learning to act by taking longer term training.

Overnight classes cannot substitute for comprehensive acting training any more than there is an effective short-term ballet school or opera class that covers all the required information to learn to sing or dance. Imagine a four-day seminar or weekend boot camp intended to train a doctor, or condensing medical school. Faster is not better, better is better. Great things are born of time…great things like you. Acting is a craft, and serious contenders take the time to master skills that serve a lifetime. So be patient and take the long road to your destination! Create an enduring career through craft.

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Joanne Baron is an actor, producer, and the artistic director of the Joanne Baron/D.W. Brown Studio in Santa Monica, Calif.

Baron studied the Meisner Technique under Sanford Meisner and William Esper in New York, who trained her to teach at The William Esper Studio in New York. Baron is a highly regarded actor in theater, television, and film, whose credits include “Spider-Man 2,” “This is 40,” “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “Mad Men.” Baron has produced and starred in films such as “Perfume” with Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Williams and “Allie and Me” for which received a best actress award from The RiverRun Film Festival for her performance in the title role.

Over 30 years ago, Joanne created the Joanne Baron/D.W. Brown Studio with her husband, actor, writer, and director, D.W. Brown. The studio has been a wellspring for the theatrical casting and producing community, and is home to more than 250 actors, writers, directors, and producers a year including students and alumni like Halle Berry, Robin Wright, Mariska Hargitay, Patrick Dempsey, Michael Rymer, Sherri Shepherd, and Leslie Mann. For more information regarding the Joanne Baron/D.W. Brown Studio, visit

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Joanne Baron
Joanne Baron is an actor, producer, and the artistic director of the Joanne Baron/D.W. Brown Studio in Santa Monica, Calif.
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