They often, unfairly, have a reputation for being a bit 'flaky', that somehow as creative people they lack even basic common sense, but actually the reverse is true. Actors have to be smart, self aware, organised and incredibly disciplined or they'll never get any work.
Perhaps it’s the not knowing where the next job is coming from that makes them acutely aware of first and lasting impressions and that that discipline may land them another job in the not too distant future…Phew…food and rent taken care of for the next month!
When you start out as a jobbing actor, your agent, tutors at drama school and other actors, drill into you the importance of being on time, of knowing where you’re going and leaving the house an hour earlier than you really need to ‘just in case’, of knowing who you’re meeting and what their body of work is, knowing your lines, knowing what it is your auditioning for… Then when you FINALLY land a job so begins the real work of building a character; where have they come from, where are they going, why do they do the things they do, how do they talk, walk, interact with other people around them, what’s their history and lived experience and how does that inform the choices they make. You also have to navigate the challenges of the rehearsal room through your interactions with the other actors, the director and the extended creative team.
Actors are, by nature, curious and a little bit nosey… We’re trained to people watch, to closely observe human behaviour and interactions and to interpret meaning from both verbal and non verbal cues. We are by nature highly empathetic people - we have to be to so we can take on a character who on the outside may seem to have no redeeming qualities and our training enables us to quite literally ‘step into someone else’s shoes’.
And we all have a different approach to building a character (known as ‘process’). The story of Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier perhaps best captures this. Whilst filming Marathon Man in 1976, Hoffman chose to stay awake for three days in a row to be more convincing in his role. Olivier on seeing his weary co-star gave him the advice "Why don't you just try acting".
When it comes to the training room, you may wonder what on earth an actor can possibly know about your role, your organization, your challenges and what can they offer the group except a bit of silly role play.
Well, for starters we take that same inquisitive, nosey and disciplined approach to your organizational challenges and spend as much time as we can with your people to be able to reflect those challenges realistically in the work we produce. We’re not talking Dustin Hoffman ‘method’ here, we’re not going to spend 3 months posing as a work colleague on an oil rig…although if required…however we do make it our mission to do our research and do it thoroughly through focus groups, site visits and employee interviews and feedback. This filters down to our actor team who are required - as part of working with Dramatic Change - to reflect our approach and values. To be honest, they don’t take any convincing as actors love research…it’s what they do.
We regularly workshop our actors on delivering effective and constructive feedback so that when working on practice conversations with delegates the actor can be really specific about how it made their character feel when the delegate said or did x. Our goal is for delegates to leave our training with a smile on their faces and some practical, useful skills they can use straight away. We aim to stretch delegates to reach their individual potential in a positive, constructive, empathetic way. It’s no accident that feedback we regularly get is ‘I used to hate roleplay but I really enjoyed that!’. And practice conversations are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what we do.
Our Actors are an eclectic bunch with hugely varied experience and back stories so you may find they have more first-hand knowledge of working in an office or on a building site than you may think One thing is for certain, using creative, dedicated, curious and disciplined people in your training room can only enhance the learning experience for your team.