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Scene Study Workshops Are a Questionable Investment

There’s a common myth in the acting world that one learns best by doing. Scene study workshops perpetuate this belief and market their training based on this misconception. If these workshops were truly effective, there would be a glut of highly qualified applicants lining up for every role. Such is not the case. Instead we have a smattering of skilled actors surround by a multitude of marginal players. Students shell out big bucks to attend these workshops and gain little to improve their professional standing.

For top actors, scene study classes are one way to maintain and sharpen one’s skills, however, for the beginners and intermediate students they not a very effective learning venues. Why is this? More time and energy are expended in putting up scenes than on learning the fundamental skills of acting. Memorization, rehearsals, performances and the critique all take up valuable time. This time could be better spent on learning and perfecting specific techniques. In a scene workshop students may receive only snippets of advice, as time restraints do not allow in-depth coaching. And of those snippets, most apply to that specific scene rather than to acting in general. online team building singapore

Also, students usually become overwhelmed by the many requirements of performing a scene, thus working on everything and mastering none. Without guidelines, the student is confronted with too many decisions, which leads to bad choices or to no choices. In addition, struggling through a long workshop scene usually perpetuates more faults than fixes. Another caveat is that uncorrected flaws soon become part of the student’s skill set, flaws that can seriously impede advancement.

Scene study workshops have become the norm in the acting industry and there is a preponderance of them. They are constructed more so for the benefit of the instructor, as they require little in the way of preparation. It’s reactive rather than a proactive process and other than the instructor’s critique, the student takes away little else.

This catch as catch can approach usually leaves students bewildered about the principles of dramatic acting. Rather than learning what to do students meander through numerous scenes never discovering the techniques of making and implementing effective dramatic choices. Sometimes, a guru-like relationship develops and stifles the student’s curiosity to delve deeper into the craft of acting. Such students are left with the impression the instructor’s way is the only way.

The student’s obsession to perform and to receive accolades soon negates the desire to properly prepare for a professional career. Scene workshops play into one’s ego. “Look at me, I’m busy acting.” But are you productive and what are you learning? And when false praises are banter about, upping one’s hopes of making it, the workshop becomes addictive and the student returns again and again for another fix. With few rudimentary skills, the actor soon ends up on a treadmill, busy and active, yet going nowhere. It becomes a time-consuming routine that finally drains both hopes and finances.

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