Why Acting School Is Important
One of the first things I learned in acting school was about creation, and what it means to create something with others.
I remember wanting to bang my head against the wall when in my very first college movement class, the teacher told us we were going to be "exploring the space"
"Oh great", I thought. "I came to college to re-enact my least favorite part of high school drama."
"Exploring the space" in my former drama classes always made me feel like an asshole. Why? Probably because high schoolers are assholes. Or, to be more specific (and nicer), self conscious. Particularly when it comes to bodies. And of course, most kids in high school drama don't necessarily want to be actors. Just getting on a stage is a big step for them, never mind pretending to be an animal.
"Exploring the space" always just felt like the majority of the class doing their very best not to behave too strangely while still meeting the basic requirements of the exercise. It was excruciating.
So when my college movement teacher told us to "explore the space" I took a deep breath and prepared myself for an hour of wordless, awkward semi-human interaction.
But then something magical happened. These people that I was in the room with weren't concerned about how foolish they looked. They wanted to act like a bird, to move through molasses, to make eye contact with me, to be chased around the room, to see what would happen if you only ever let one point on your body touch the ground.
"Exploring the space" quickly became "playing a game" and then "creating a story." It was so effortless, even though we really had no idea what we were doing or why. We just being. Together. In the same space. Exploring.
I am realizing now how my journey through acting school was really all about that moment. Learning to trust my classmates. Feeding on one another's creativity. Knowing nothing except that we had a shared space and a collective imagination, and if allowed the time, we would create something wonderful.
I am so lucky that after having graduated, I still have that collective. Those actors that I learned not to hide from, and not to be self conscious in front of are still here and still a huge inspiration. Slowly, we are creating things together.
That is pretty special.
-- Sarah Wharton