I’ve said this many times before, but it bears repeating; many actors in this country are lazy, lacking serious training, work ethic or artistry. In any other art form, these are essential to success. But in a pop-culture built on superficiality, had actors can make money lacking all three of these attributes. My artistic mentor, Sanford Meisner, whose brilliant technique I have devoted my life to preserving and passing on at the Maggie Flanigan Studio, said it best more than thirty years ago, “Actors should be in constant training. And they should work, as other artists, to maintain their fitness for their art. Let someone explain to me why the violinist who plays in the orchestra on the tenth violin must perform daily exercises or lose the power to play? Why does the dancer work daily over every muscle in their body? Why do the painter, the sculptor, the writer practice their art every day and count that day lost if they do not work? And why today’s actors do nothing but spend the day in the coffee houses and hope for the gift of inspiration? I’ll tell you why. Today’s actors just want to be stars.”
Acting is An Art Form
What Meisner was championing and spent his life developing were actors who prized craft, work ethic, and artistry. I believe that for the actor, the first step towards possessing these most important artistic qualities starts with the understanding that acting is indeed an art form, necessitating a mastery of fundamental skill. This requires a clear vision of the type of actor you want to be. If that vision includes the ability to be truly transformational, if it includes the ability to create vivid, organic, rich human behavior, if it means always being the most prepared and accountable actor in any room you are in, then you must work every day of your life towards that goal. Any real artist has the desire to illuminate the human condition in all of its aspects. For the actor, whose instrument of expression is the entire human body, (vocal, physical, and temperamental clarity)., establishing a work ethic must include a relentless desire to master these three things. Twyla Tharpe said any real artist must build the “habit of creativity”, and I believe this is something that can be learned and ultimately ingrained deeply as an artistic characteristic.
Actors Must Learn to Make Their Work Ethic Non-Negotiable
Artistry is the care with which you work, and you will not possess this essential quality without tremendous effort. The first step must begin with serious professional training. Finding a teacher, and mentor who will set a bar and a standard that at first may seem unreasonable and unattainable is essential. This includes finding a training program where work ethic, intellectual curiosity, and professional accountability are non-negotiable. Locating such a studio requires time and effort, and in this business, can sometimes feel like finding a needle in a haystack. But if you are remotely serious about a life in art, you better start with choosing teachers who have carved out a rigorous path to follow.
I will end with a quote by the late great poet Stanley Kunitz, who crystalizes my thoughts so eloquently, “Emerson said somewhere that democracy descends to meet. All the modern arts are threatened by the cult of the amateur. You have to know the difference between naiveté and simplicity, novelty and originality, rhetoric and passion. The most insidious enemy of the good is not so much the bad as it is the second-best.”
Serious Actors Commit to Professional Training
To learn more about the professional training that the studio provides and the two year acting program, contact the studio to day by calling 917-789-1599.
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