By Tom Vest
Show up on time
Don’t let the start of a class become your arrival time. Arriving 5 or 10 minutes late can throw you out of sync with the rest of the class, as warm ups are designed to lead into planned exercises. Yes, sometimes we run into traffic jams or are held up, but don’t let it become a habit. Aim to arrive before the start of class and avoid the dreaded Walk of Shame as everyone stops to watch you arrive in the middle of all the fun!
I think it comes as a surprise to some people that they have to get up and actually participate. Others spend a lot of energy making sure the class knows how tired they are or how nervous they are. All I can say about that is – please don’t be that person. We’re all tired. Too often it becomes an excuse to participate at 50% effort. You only succeed in drawing attention to yourself, and not in a good way.
Over the years, texting during class has increasingly become an issue. Even though I make a point to mention texting is not allowed, students sometimes “forget” and try to check their messages or quickly reply to an email. The reasoning is usually along the lines of — “if they are quiet and not disrupting the class, what’s the problem?”
Students benefit greatly from watching others work, not to mention a sense of community and recognition of shared experiences. We are all in this together, aren’t we? The people on stage want to be seen, and so should you. That’s how we know we are getting better, by our partnership in this room. If we are to better ourselves in this art, students must take responsibility to listen to each other and use the time to learn from each other.
Don’t be defensive
Unfortunately, a defensive student doesn’t see them self as defensive. Students progress very little when they are more interested in defending their actions than taking any suggestions the instructor may have. Try to keep an open mind and remember things always look different to the people in a scene than to those who are outside of it.
Engaging in the world around you is a good way to take your mind off any worries or fears you may have. Developing our ability to pay attention and concentrate is a key skill all actors need to work on, so put away that iphone and watch the scene in front of you!