The Art of Drama Practice

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Drama (general) By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Drama » Drama (general)
Last updated: 29/05/2018
Tags: acting, acting auditions, artist, drama school, practice

Painters paint. Singers sing. Actors...well, actors usually wait for the phone to ring.

Getting an acting job, or even an audition, can be a long and arduous process, facilitated by an increasing number of people; people who stand between you - the artist - and the role. Casting directors, directors, producers, showrunners; everyone has a say in who will eventually play the part that you are perfect for.

And unlike the sculptor squirrelling away in his studio, or the aspiring opera star wailing away in her bathroom, actors can feel as though when they are out of work, they stop being an artist. With all those voices having a say in your art, it can feel as though nothing you do will make a difference. But, as Vincent Lombardi said, "practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect".

The greatest actors I have worked with make the art of acting look seamless. But dig a little deeper into their methods and you will find that they all share one thing; a dedication to practice. It is easy to think that once we have learnt the speech we can relax, but those greats return home each night and tweak, re-evaluate and perfect their approach to a script.

There is, of course, no one approach to a script. That will develop and evolve over many years, in a multitude of ways, for a varierty of actors. But the idea that anyone is a 'natural' is misleading. Yes, there is innate talent in all of us but, as with all disciplines, this must be harnessed by hard work and a ferocious appetite to learn to grow.

When I first left drama school, I was out of work. And it was, and always will be, difficult. It is difficult to keep faith in your ability. It is difficult to remember why, and how much, you love your chosen career. And it is difficult to remain disciplined. I began to read plays. I would choose speeches and learn them. I would work on them as if I were being paid to play the role. Once I felt I had achieved some level of artistry, I'd choose another.

No one would ever see me perform these speeches but I was being an actor, just as the painter is still a painter, even if no one comes to the gallery. And when the phone did ring, I got the part. And then I got another one. 

The tools I had collected at drama school remained sharp because of practice. So going into an intimidating room of top West End executives stopped feeling traumatic; I was an actor as prepared as I could be, displaying my art to some viewers. I knew it was the best version of me they could see, and they knew it, too.

Despite many years of work, I have never stopped learning, never thought I did not need practice, never believed that I had reached the summit of my education. The Art of Practice is underrated because it's not the sexiest, coolest part of being an artist, but it might well just be the most important.

Graham Butler Drama (general) Teacher (South West London)

About The Author

A professional actor, I trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. I understand that no two people are the same, therefore no two actors are the same. I can help identify your individuality and find your unique voice.

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