The U.K. Actor’s Guide to the Internet

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Technology has changed how actors work. They can now connect with the casting industry and promote themselves online with headshots, CVs and voice samples. Backstage’s casting platform itself is an example of a service that couldn’t have existed before everyone had a computer and an internet connection. The ease with which we now transfer huge files has allowed London actors to audition for jobs on the other side of the world with Skype, self tapes, and showreels. But although most actors have a decent level of tech literacy (you wouldn’t be reading this article on a website if not) there are plenty of useful resources and hacks that could be making your life easier. Here’s an actor's guide to the internet.

TOOLS

ChangeDetection
Behold the ChangeDetection tool. It allows you to monitor web pages for updates or alterations and receive a notification when something happens. For instance, if I wanted to know when someone posted a job on the National Theatre website but I didn’t want to keep checking back every week or risk missing a post that only appeared for a short time, I would paste this URL into ChangeDetection and then enter the email address I wanted notifications to be sent to.

You can also create a free account, alter the frequency of notifications and check back over changes. Every so often an email address or other contact information will only be made public for the length of posting, with alerts you can harvest and store that information for as long as you need it.

Set alerts for the web pages you frequently visit for jobs but also remember they can be useful for theatre, TV or film company sites that update what they are working on or producing. If you’re applying for a course or training then set up an alert on the applications page to be notified when they are open or about to close. ChangeDetection can be your eyes and ears over the internet 24/7.

Google Alerts
Google Alerts works in much the same way as ChangeDetection, you enter search terms and it monitors the web for matching content. Users set how often they want to receive updates from hourly, daily to weekly. Google then sends you an email with a title and snippet of the content as well as a link.

Actors can set up terms like ‘London casting theatre’, ‘UK casting short film’ or even hyper-specific ones like ‘South London bursary funding grants performing arts young people’. Google basically searches for your terms every few seconds, filters and then returns the most useful content. It’s useful for finding notices of productions or important industry news from the source before it gets picked up by journalists.

It can easily become like a newsletter, the type of email you put in the trash without reading. But remember that after creating alerts they can be edited or deleted. Manage the alerts and make them work for you.

RESOURCES

There are an overwhelming amount of online resources for actors, most of which are either clickbait, low-quality content, or a site that is trying to sign you up and sell you something. Here are a few brilliant, top quality resources that you should know about.

National Theatre Videos
The NT are absolute heroes when it comes to digital content. They are lightyears ahead of most other theatres, professionally recording and uploading their Q&As as well as providing tonnes of informative documentary style videos on theatre and careers information.

For actors, take a root around NT Discover and find what’s interesting to you. Specific skills videos like their ones on movement and warm ups are great.

Playing Shakespeare
Let John Barton, master of verse and one of the founding figures of the RSC, take you on what is still the most comprehensive and well-structured lesson in speaking Shakespeare available. After you’ve gotten through the wonderfully naff opening titles, there’s an extra reward in seeing some of the most renowned contemporary actors as youngsters. Ian McKellan, Peggy Ashcroft, Sheila Hancock, Ben Kingsley, David Suchet and Patrick Stewart all sit around smoking, asking obviously scripted questions and looking fabulous.

Barton, in his perennial shirt, tie and cardigan combo, is the best of teachers. Kind, clear but with high expectations, his video series is a crash course in speaking the speech and is far easier to access than most books on the subject.

Here’s the playlist. Remember to pause, speak along and rewatch.

Shakespeare’s Words
David and Ben Crystal are the father and son masters of Original Pronunciation and wider Shakespearean tradition. Their book “Shakespeare’s Words” is a superb resource but it’s not something you’re going to want to lug to rehearsals or read in bed. Their website is a searchable version of the entire works of Shakespeare, including the poems.

For actors, it’s vital to understand what you are saying. First, use the website search function to get a definition of the word and to see it context. Second, look to see where else Shakespeare uses the word and what characters he gives it to. Finally, use other sections (like Frequently Encountered Words) to build your knowledge and Early Modern vocab.

If you’re feeling generous then don’t forget to give a small donation for the upkeep of this fantastic service.

Backstage
Backstage is the premium, trusted, casting platform for actors and performers, casting over 6,000 roles a week, as well as editorial coverage that provides actors and performing artists with a wealth of advice, guides, news, interviews, and resources. You can also check out the Opportunities section where you search for jobs by location. Upload your headshots and demo reel and cast your net as wide as you need to.

Check out Backstage’s London audition listings!