The British Invasion – Let’s Be Theatrical, The American over-emphasis on realism.
Fighting Back- Part 1
“Where Did All the Actors Come From?”
In the last decade we saw a huge influx of new people entering the acting arena. In addition to the young artists flocking to Conservatory programs and the reputable established acting studios in the Big Apple, came a group of young people weaned on television and cinema. These new aspiring actors were inspired by the new creative cable shows on HBO, ShowTime, Netflix, TNT and other new networks springing up almost weekly. In many cases TV had taken over from film as a creative place to be. Just look at all the wonderful actors known for their film roles now taking on the new Mini-series format. These new actors have vision of a life as an actor did not include theater. I must confess, as a person who grew up in a world where acting and theater were virtually synonymous, it was a concept I hadn’t run across and it has taken some time to get used to it.
Along with these new non-network shows, came the perfect storm of “Reality TV,” and Social Media. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo burst on the scene with web-series and viral videos. Instant fame was at our fingertips. This flooded the market with an even more disquieting type of aspiring actor. These actors are often more driven by a desire to become famous than to learn to act. They want to become a star tomorrow and want the short cuts to help them gain their 15 minutes of fame.
This vast influx of actors caused the competition among actors, to be seen by casting directors and agents, to become unbearably fierce. The combination of the vast numbers of actors competing to be seen, and the new casting offices springing up to handle the new shows, spawned a whole new business. New, large studios sprang up on both coasts offering clearing houses for actors. They offer one place where actors are guaranteed a meeting with a casting director or agent for a fee. In return, the agents and CD’s are provided with a new source of income. This quickly led to the demise of the “general audition,” traditionally used by CD’s & agents to find new talent. Actors are now asked to attend these group sessions in place of a one-on-one general audition. To be legal and avoid the wrath of the unions these group sessions are marketed as classes or workshops. This seemed to be the answer for everyone. But is it the answer for actors?
In many cases, the casting office is no longer casting major projects on a regular basis, but only actually casts sporadically. Further complicating this, is that many of these “teachers” are in fact, actually, office help, receptionists or part-time workers with no acting background They are often given the title Casting Associate to allow them to supplement their income. This is a disservice to the true casting associates who provide valuable help in the busy casting offices.
The class portion is often merely a critique of their work. In some cases, an exercise to help the actor be “more in the moment” is given. The problem is that while being in the moment is a valuable part of the acting lexicon, it is far from a complete acting technique. Just being “in the moment” does not create strong choices or an interesting and compelling character.
This gave rise to serious problems that opened the door for the British/Aussie invasion.
- Some actors think these one night or weekend classes will give them all the tools necessary to be a working actor.
- More serious actors find it so difficult to break through that they feel compelled to go to these classes just to keep up.
- Often these actors spend so much money meeting as many of the “right people” as possible, that they no longer have the necessary funds for the more serious long-term study they know they need to learn and maintain the skills that will give them lasting and meaningful careers.
On the different perception of acting in Britain compared to the U.S.
“They really devote themselves to their craft. They’re not trying to openly be stars, the goal is to be a working actor. So when they come here they have such well-rounded resumes, they’ve done stage productions, period pieces, they’ve done television, they’ve done radio, they’ve done commercials. Whereas here in Los Angeles, there’s a focus on what kind of actor do you want to be? Do you want to do film, do you want to do television, do you want to do sitcoms? And they try to keep you in that box. Whereas the English actor does everything. — Hugh Dancy — Star of HANNIBAL on NBC
Questions Actors Should Ask Before Signing up for these “Workshops”
Actors are paying often large fees to meet someone they feel will help their career and maybe learn something of value in the process.
- Is the casting office actively casting major projects on a regular basis.
- Is the person hosting the class the actual casting director or agent or is it an assistant.
- Does the person they are meeting have real authority to get an actor “into the room” for actual auditions.
- Is the person they are meeting ever studied acting and are they a qualified teacher
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Acting Teacher, Coach, Director, Author; Penny Templeton’s artistry is the culmination of four generations of theatre actresses. Although Penny was warned by her family not to go on the Stage, she embraced her legacy and began performing and studying under such masters as Paul Sorvino and Wynn Handman. Highlights of her career include starring in Joyce Carol Oates’ I Stand Before You Naked at the American Place Theatre, and as Paul Sorvino’s wife in All The King’s Men. She started teaching in the early 1990’s, and opened the Penny Templeton Studio in Manhattan in 1994. Ms. Templeton was selected by Columbia University’s School of the Arts to teach ‘Acting for the Camera’ to third year MFA students. Her book on the craft, business and art of acting, ACTING LIONS is being referred to as “The Actor’s Bible” and is receiving rave reviews in the industry. Her unique teaching methods and techniques have garnered awareness and recognition from the press as well as industry peers. Most recently the Wall Street Journal highlighted her On-Camera Teaching techniques in its article on the importance of Green Screen in today’s films. She has appeared on ABC News, as well as broadcast media outlets in the US, Great Britain, Canada & Australia as an expert commentator on the craft of Acting. Her articles on acting have been published in national magazines, and she was called upon to be a finalist Judge for the New York Film Festival, Daytime Emmys and Cable Ace Awards. Her directorial credits include the Off Broadway show, The Rise of Dorothy Hale, as well as the one man shows: F Train, Idiot’s Guide to Life and I Stand Before You Naked. She is featured in Ronald Rand’s acclaimed Acting Teachers of America, and Glenn Alterman’s book, Promoting Your Acting Career. Ms. Templeton works and Skypes regularly with actors in Theatre, Film and Television in New York City, Los Angeles, throughout the United States, and all over the world.
Teaches Camera Technique, Script Analysis, Beginning Acting Technique and Memorization for Actors at Penny Templeton Studio. A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Hank immediately began working Off-Broadway in the hit show “Your Own Thing.” His 50 years of theatre experience include Off Broadway. Regional Theatre, and National Tours. He has worked with stars such as Richard Gere in “Awake and Sing.” Jose Ferrer in “Cyrano”, and John Raitt in “Shenandoah“. He was nominated for a Carbonal Award in the Leading Actor category for his portrayal of Billy Flynn in “Chicago.” Mr. Schob has also been featured in the films “Cadillac Man,” “Heading for Broadway” and “Fame.” His TV credits include roles on “All My Children,” “Ryan’s Hope,” “Search for Tomorrow,” “Kojak,” and “Law & Order.” He has appeared on Good Morning America as an expert commentator on Acting and recently cast the feature film “The Paragon Cortex.” He contributed chapters on Camera Technique, Blocking and Script Analysis to the book ACTING LIONS.
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