August 21, 2020
As a young actor, I took a great deal of pride in the training I’d received at a reputable professional actor training program at a prominent university. I, boldly, left school in my early twenties, having acquired a new-found emotional awareness, sensitivity and facility that I knew would serve me well as I hit the streets of New York City; convinced I had all the skills I needed to make all my dreams come true. The business soon taught me otherwise. Unfortunately, what I had failed to learn at my prestigious school was that my ability to feel my feelings did not make me a talented actor. For actors are not professional “feelers”. They are professional storytellers. A gifted coach helped me to understand that my real talent as an actor lies not in my ability to feel, but in my ability to effectively tell a compelling story. It’s not about me. It’s about the story! To be sure, my feelings are an important element in the imaginative process, but they are not the end result. What a liberating concept to, finally, learn and embrace. As entertainment professionals, we are ALL in service to story.
To work professionally, actors must be able to demonstrate measurable storytelling skills. Great writing helps actors develop an understanding of the elements of effective storytelling, and how to lift a story off the page. So, working on material from the work of great playwrights teaches actors employable skills. Monologues, pulled from great plays, serve actors professionally, by showcasing an actor’s ability to cast themselves well, effectively tell a clear and compelling story, demonstrate an actor’s talent for making strong choices, and his overall commitment to, and love of, craft. An actor can avoid “imposter syndrome” by working on writing of the highest caliber. An actor prepared with a minimum of six monologues, of varying lengths and styles that are fully explored, rehearsed and ready to perform, show casting professionals that, if cast, they’ll be in good hands. Be the most prepared actor in the room and you’ll never break your own heart.
by Mark Guerette