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Juggling Acting and a Day Job

There’s already so much that goes on with an acting career, but what if you’re juggling a day job as well? There’s no question that you need the day job to pay for expenses, but a burgeoning acting career is something that asks all kinds of sacrifices from you and it just isn’t realistic to work at both a regular full-time gig and pursue an acting career at the same time.

The question has come up if you had to choose, would you choose your day job over acting? Well, it comes down exactly to that – how committed are you, and to which career? In the long run, if you choose acting, you’ll have to sacrifice comfort for crappy living conditions and for long periods of time – which is why a lot of people quit their acting pursuits because to actually give yourself this kind of shot is really up to what you are willing to sacrifice.

Usually an average of eight to ten years is required from acting professionals who make it to the big screen or television. Similar to any profession out there, acting requires hard work, determination, and perseverance. If you’re not willing to do your part and carry the bulk of what’s required of you, then it really isn’t likely that you’ll be able to hit the big time either.

And finding something flexible, which usually falls into the waiting tables-category, is ideal. It’s pretty rare to find something part-time that is flexible and accommodating at the same time. But if you’re not willing to work hard to reach where you want to be in 5-10 years, then it’s pretty much telling an engineer that forgoing his studies will help him get his certificate – which really isn’t the way the world works. Work hard, and that means roughing it, and even suffering a few blows financially, but if you want to be one of the elite few, then it’s all requisite stuff from here on.

Basics of the Meisner Technique

Great Acting Requires:

two actors in a scene trainingConnection: You must know how to listen and give yourself permission to be affected by your acting partners and the imaginary circumstances of the scene.

Focus: You must learn how to focus on something outside yourself and how to really do what you are doing… for real, no pretending.

Expression: You must constantly work on being free to express emotion:  which means allowing your feelings to come out in behavior.

Self-Knowledge: Developing your Unique Point of View about the world:  you must know how you feel about things, people, and the world around you and what defense mechanisms you use in the real world to keep these feelings at bay.  These defense mechanisms must be stripped away before any truthful behavior can be revealed.

Impulsiveness: All good acting stems from an actors instincts, by honoring impulses and not intellectualizing the work.  We need to learn to act from our gut not our heads.

And you must have trained body and voice that is strong and dextrous enough to do all of this.

Technique: (noun) A systematic procedure, formula or routine by which a complicated task is accomplished; the way in which the fundamentals, as of an artistic work, are handled.

All serious artists commit themselves to learning the technique of their craft, no one is asked to play a Bach concerto at their first piano lesson, but in many acting classes beginning students are given complex scenes on the first day – asked to perform them, given a few perfunctory notes, and this is considered acting training.

The Meisner Technique, however, takes the training of actors as seriously and as systematically as the training of dancers and musicians.  As teachers of Sanford Meisner’s work, we consider a mastery of “technique” (the SYSTEMATIC procedure needed by actors to create great performances) absolutely necessary.  The Meisner Technique is a systematic, step-by-step process that allows for actors to gain the skill sets required to create a character and live in the imaginary world of the play. The skills required to act go way beyond how to memorize lines and hit your marks.

Everything we do in the Meisner Technique takes us back to those 5 major skill sets – and so how do we gain skills?  How does an NBA player improve his jump shot?  Not in the game – but through drills, exercises and PRACTICE! – and that is how we improve our connection, our focus, our emotional expression our self-knowledge, and hone our instincts – PRACTICE!