When we think of acting classes, a roomful of Hollywood hopefuls might spring to mind. So, for those of us who have no desire to go into acting, taking such a class would probably seem pretty pointless.
However, playwright and actor Steven Bloomer believes an actor’s training can be of value to everyone. He leads the ACT NOW acting classes in North West London and says the skills learned in these classes could benefit our day-to-day lives in several ways. These include:
Becoming a better public speaker
Acting classes usually start with various breathing, vocal and physical exercises. These exercises warm up the voice and release tension from the body. A warmed up, more relaxed voice will be clearer in its articulation and better able to carry across a room.
Also, classes provide a safe space in which to experiment with vocal ranges and tones that most of us don’t get a chance to use in our everyday lives. This helps participants to develop a manner of speaking that is interesting to listen to.
These types of skills are particularly useful for those of us who work or take part in activities that involve speaking to groups of people. Steven uses teaching as an example. “The more relaxed and full your voice is, the easier it is, if you’re a teacher, to have some authority in a room to command some attention.”
Improving communication skills
Developing an awareness of body language is another area that acting classes focus on. Being able to identify how specific types of body language can be perceived allows participants to tailor their acting performances accordingly.
This awareness can also be useful in the workplace.
Steven gives the scenario of a customer-facing employee dealing with an irate member of the public. The employee may instinctively raise their hands and tell the customer to “Calm down”. However, if the employee knew beforehand that both the gesture and the verbal command could be viewed as intimidating behaviour, they might choose to address the situation differently.
Performing in front of an audience takes courage and the sense of achievement gained through this helps to build confidence. Also, learning to use their voice and body in different ways can make participants feel more confident and in control of how they present themselves in their daily lives.
Tips for finding the right acting class
This can be a bit of a minefield, but Steven says there are a few things you can do before committing to a class.
- Prices can vary from free to over £750 per term, so you should decide exactly what you would want from the classes and how much you are willing to pay.
- Research the company and class leaders beforehand, to find out what qualifies them to teach acting.
- Some classes offer free trials. Use this opportunity to see if the class seems like a safe space for you to express yourself. Consider whether you feel comfortable within the group and with the person leading the classes.
Good luck (or break a leg!) if you do decide to try an acting class. And you never know… there just might be a Hollywood hopeful hiding inside of you!
*Headline image courtesy of Nitin Sachania