On Teaching

I came across this tweet today. It’s pretty funny and it gave me a laugh.

But it also inspired me to respond to it in a serious fashion with this post about the teaching of acting, especially as I read the comments about another acting teacher and Botox.

Sure, your face and its various parts are arguably the most important part of your instrument. And if you present bad acting there, if you are locked into a certain line reading and a certain gesture and they don’t work, you are probably doomed. And if you want to do Botox for your true self, or as your choice for it to be part of your look and not your technique, and not as a part of trying to please an acting teacher, do it. And further, for many actors if you are young enough, beautiful enough, ripped enough, connected enough, lucky enough, et cetera, et cetera, all that stands between you and some sweet acting gigs may well be an absence of bad acting. And I’d say that’s where I started, to be honest.

But for most actors, for the sake of audiences everywhere, and in the name of mastery and excellence, I think that the kind of teaching that focuses on the absence of bad acting is wholly incompatible with the approach I would advocate for instead: the presence of good acting.

I think I was first introduced to this concept by my friend, the uber-talented Ellen Adair. She said something to me like, if your one line is “Do you want fries with that?”, there’s not a lot you can do with it and perhaps the key to booking that part is Don’t Be Bad. She then went on to speak on behalf of Being Good as a much better thing!

Now, to get to my point about the tweet, and at the risk of extrapolating too much from a couple of sentences out of context, this get-rid-of-it kind of “teaching” is a major red flag and you should run away from this “teacher” as fast as you can! (If you could see my face right now, you’d know I really mean it because of what I’m doing with my eyebrows, not by what I’m not doing with them.)

Okay, that’s the short version. We could talk for years about this, including a deep dive into “You are enough” and pleasing others, but I’ll end it here.

To the good acting teachers out there who help actors use their entire instrument, onward in your pursuit of excellence! Three cheers to the abundant presence of good acting!