An actor’s finest work is achieved for love rather than for money” – Uta Hagen, ‘Respect for Acting’ Acting school? I devote this column to addressing the popular debate on whether or not acting can be taught. Going by popular perception, an actor is born to be an actor, acting is just an instinct and can’t be taught.
A few geniuses made it without any formal training, but they were genii.
Before the advent of fancy acting schools, Bollywood dance classes etc, actors still functioned. Actresses like Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi and Madhuri Dixit weaved some unparalleled performances. They intuitively found a way to work, which they themselves were at a loss to define.
For a would-be actor, talent is a prerequisite. You either have it or you don’t. The acting talent is an amalgam of high sensitivity and easy vulnerability. Physical beauty is not a prerequisite for an actor.
A highly developed discipline like acting cannot be learnt by watching a 100 movies or by reading Acting for Dummies. You learn from experience. Period. The more you do it, the better you get.
Talent isn’t everything. There is a lifetime of work to be done (besides Bollywood dance and weight training). The challenges for an actor (physical and emotional) are unparalleled. An actor has to discover his boundaries and bulldoze them time and again.
Acting school is where I formed my approach towards acting and delivering performances I never knew I was capable of! Every actor has a different approach. I learnt that the approach, which worked for me, was believing in the moment I was in, the virtual world of the scene, and the situation my character was faced with.
Some use ‘emotion memory’, that is, deriving sadness by thinking about the death of a dog or a loved one. While it works for some, digging in your own past to discover emotional responses can be a dangerous and inexact science. Going back to school has been the best decision I’ve ever made. It taught me acting is all about being in the moment. As is life!