We are so excited to offically announce the launch of Echo Acting!
In September classes in both Galway and Athlone will begin. Through each eight week programme you will explore different acting methods, experiment with different genres, build confidence and have lots of laughs along the way.
This month I thought it would be fun to give some acting tips for complete beginners. As well as being a theatre maker I’ve been a drama teacher for over ten years and I’ve noticed a lot of habits repeating over the years. Here are some of the first bad habits I correct in class.
Projecting is a difficult skill that is developed over time. When new to acting it is totally normal to have difficulty with volume. Often actors have difficulty remaining natural and in character while projecting as at first it can feel very unnatural. This skill can be developed through warm us and vocal exercises. For example I find the Radio Exercise very useful, you simply repeat a sentence over and over changing the volume from mute, to low (stage whisper), to medium (this is your ideal projection) to high (a stage shout). It’s important to learn how to warm up the voice and project correctly as to low the audience can’t hear you and shouting damages your voice.
Blocking is another skill that will become second nature over time but feels completely unnatural at first. On stage actors will be positioned as not to block one another from the audience’s view and they will turn their bodys in a way to show the most of their physicality. On screen actors will often have to stand much closer to each other than feels natural for close up shots, this however looks completely natural on screen. During filming actors must always precisely note their blocking to maintain consistency.
Sometimes new actors can feel totally engaged with the text, feel connected to their character and feel as though they are truly experiencing the scene but they aren’t showing us that. This again relates to feeling unnatural. Although it may feel as though we are acting un-naturally and exaggerating our expressions or physicality it reads as natural to an audience who are viewing you from a distance or framed on a screen. A common myth is that film actors act more subtly, it is a completely different style of acting but it is not subtle. Next time you’re viewing a great actor on screen, mute it and examine how often the actors change their expression and you’ll see how much they are communicating in their ‘subtle’ performance.
Dressing The Part
This is a very practical and simple tip that repeatedly pops up, dress appropriately for class or rehearsal. In my rehearsal room or class the following are no gos for actors; Jewellery that makes noise, high heels, skirts, very tight clothing and hair or hats covering your face. Basically anything that could restrict your movement or distract you or other actors is out. I suggest comfortable, breathable clothing that you can move freely in. It seems like a small thing but being unable to move freely limits the range of physicality for your characters and makes it difficult to warm up / cool down, hindering your progress.
Don’t be afraid to fail
This is the most important tip for any actor beginner or experienced. The rehearsal room or classroom is a space in which you can be totally creative, try anything you’d like, so don’t be afraid to grab that opportunity! It can be really difficult to come out of our comfort zones, especially for those new to acting. It’s important to remember you won’t look silly for trying, everyone else in the room has the same goal and is looking equally ‘silly’ together.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my top five tips for complete beginners. I’d like to take the opportunity at the end of this blog to make a special announcement. As you know we have postponed all Eva’s Echo production’s until a time when it is safe for us and our audiences. During this time we have decided to start a new adventure and launch Echo Acting and provide professional acting classes in Galway and Athlone.
To learn new skills, make discoveries, gain confidence, and dive into the world of acting! Simply click on the link below.
12th of March 2020, it was a Thursday. I went into work as normal looking forward to date night when I got home. Rehearsals were great the previous weekend too, there’s still two scenes to be blocked but we had a show. I showcased a scene at an International Women’s Day event where people came up after saying ‘What are the show dates?’ and ‘I’ll definitely be checking it out’. Anyone I spoke to I said to tell their friends and follow us on socials. I went back to Sligo happy and looking forward to the following weekend already.
Fast forward to Thursday, we were getting the kids ready for dinner when our manager came down. She informs us that Vradkar has made an announcement that all creches, schools and colleges were to close at 6pm that day until the 28th of March… My first thought, rehearsals. How will we manage? Will we find another location? Will I have to sit feet away from people on the bus? As I walked home that evening I rang Rena to devise a plan. We decided to postpone rehearsals that weekend, hold a virtual rehearsal the following weekend hoping for the best. This should be fine, I thought. Last weekend went well, no matter what we have a show.
It’s Wednesday the 22nd of April 2020. Last week should have been show week for my one woman show ‘Uniform.’ The weekend before would’ve been our last rehearsal, ensuring all props and costumes were sourced, that I was off book, that the characters were nailed down and all was set for tech day on Wednesday. We would’ve celebrated 3 years of Eva’s Echo amongst crew and friends on the Saturday sensibly ensuring fresh heads for the next morning. This week I should be in work with the kids daydreaming; ‘This day last week was our tech rehearsal. It has gone by so fast. I can’t believe I actually did a one woman show. When can I go back on stage?’ I’d then remind myself that rehearsals for Jungle Door are due to start in three weeks time and that I must get off book again. All of this is not so, with exception to the later which we still have to wait on.
Although Uniform was postponed due to circumstances out of our control, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of worry, defeat, anger, loss and hard done by. I spent a whole weekend perfecting the final script, I’d started a diet to get into shape (cringing at photos from the production just gone) and ensured I was well rested after work each night. I went into 2020 full of ambition and anticipation; ‘2020 is my year’, ‘This is the year I get back into acting’, ‘I’m going to show everyone how good I am.’ Sometimes I feel all the above but then other times I feel ok. I know that it will be ok and the show will go on. Maybe there’s a reason. Maybe the world isn’t ready for ‘Uniform’ yet, as well as the global pandemic obviously but still.
As an artist and producer all I know is that I want to give back to the community as much as I can now and when all this is over. To start that blog, to teach drama like I’ve always wanted, to get that play published, to get new plays on stage, to get upcoming artists on board for future productions and so forth. As I’ve said to friends and family, if 2020 has taught me anything is that nothing is permanent. Life is too short to be worrying about things which is a lesson I’ve tried taking on for a long time, but it has fairly sunk in this time. You only have one body, one family and one chance.
Post show blues, I’ve been aware of it since my youth theatre days but never really understood what it was. All I knew was that sinking feeling of sadness, fidgetiness and worry the day after closing night. Will our next show be as good? Will I get as good a role next year? Am I ever going to see my friends again? Would it be worth my time going back next year? Oh how little I had to worry about back then.
It was only when I stepped into the professional world that I grasped a real understanding of post show blues. After my first leading role in ‘The Way It Is’ (which didn’t get the best turn out), it hit me really hard. We ran for just one night and I put everything I had into that performance so it was a rapid high to low. The next day I went into work daydreaming of the show, wishing I was still in the theatre and not in the shop as my colleague snapped me out of it to attend to customers. This happened again after our most recent production of ‘Jungle Door.’ We went through such a roller coaster of a journey between intense week rehearsals, changes, line runs, script analysis, movement workshops, hilarious encounters and an all round great show. After our intense week of rehearsals I was back in work for only two days but I even found that hard. I was looking at the clock on the wall and thinking ‘*sigh* We’d be doing script work/warm ups right now…’ Two days later we were on the road to Naas which went by as quickly as it came around.
Given the amount of work that went into the production and the positive vibes from the team, this was the hardest production to walk away from. Those two weeks felt like I was living the life of my true authentic self, working with people who shared similar values and pursuing what I truly love. If you asked if I’d rather be grinding through paperwork or hot seating three times a week, I’d choose the latter any day. That is the hard truth as I would have said before being a working artist. You’re scrapping to pursue a life in two conflicting universes. Many weeks have gone by when I would breeze through it all like Samantha Jones, but then other weeks I’d be in a tissy like the White Rabbit. From talking to other artists I know that this is a common reality for many, which is a comfort all the same but doesn’t make it right.
Going back to post Jungle Door, I just did what one would do after a major event. Be grateful that it happened and be proud of what we achieved. Now we do have Uniform coming up and it is advised to not jump into another show if you’re also working full time, but we had this booked since Christmas so that doesn’t count! Besides, we already have Jungle Door scheduled for June in Galway (Town Hall Studio 10th-13th of June!!!). While that it came as much excitement and relief that the experience won’t be quite over yet, a sense of anxiety and fear emerged… What if it won’t be as good? What if something bad happens? What if I get fat(ter)? What if-… This wasn’t good either. I realized that yes it’s nice to look back (now ironically Don’t Look Back in Anger is now playing on my laptop) on the experiences, the friendships, the wins, and the losses but it can’t define the next run. I even thought of ways to recreate the experience and rent an entire apartment in Galway, this was not smart and my pocket wouldn’t thank me for it. Instead, I choose to be present in everything I do while looking forward with hope and joy. As with artistic purpose and life it is meant to be experienced to the fullest.
Beyond being economical, eco-friendly, and an excuse to clean out your closet, this swap party will be a great way to play with different styles.
It’s simple 1. Bring a few items from your wardrobe you no longer want 2. Donate €5 to our upcoming show Uniform. 3. Swap clothes with others. 4. Have a fab time swapping, chatting and enjoying snacks. 5. Leave with a smile and a new style.
PS. All items must be clean, quality clothes that are in good shape – no broken zippers!