Acting in Plays, Singing/College and acting

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QUESTION: I am 18, want to continue on with my acting after high school, want to go to college in my area which is 2 hours away from Puget Sound and have been nominated by the 5th Avenue for HS Musical awards. I am an artist, a singer, and would also love to do voice over.
I want to know the best place for me to hone all these skills, and should I bypass college for my acting dream?
Thank you!
Cody L.

ANSWER: It sounds like you're well on the way to a successful career (with some very impressive credentials already!).

To ensure that, you definitely do NOT want to bypass college. College will not only teach you new skills, but will greatly reinforce and hone the skills you already have. In addition, it will open you up to a better understanding of cultures and meanings that can help you better understand scripts, especially classics like Shakespeare and Moliere

As far as which school: it depends. No school is perfect for everyone - The Cornish Institute of the Arts, for instance, has a sterling reputation, but I've known people who simply didn't fit right there and found a better education elsewhere. Your best bet is to examine your own personal style, and carefully investigate each school's approach - is theirs a very Method program? Meisner? following the works of Stella Adler or Uta Hagen? Your best bet is find the program that fits your own approach to acting and learn from them.

Other than that, I can recommend any of the programs in the Puget Sound area (with one exception - a school in Midway) as being well worth your consideration, but would very much suggest that you consider the 4-year schools over the community colleges, simply because their programs are much more dedicated to serious theatre students.

Break a leg, and let me know how you do!

-- Spyder


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I right now use the Stanislavski method of acting...have not been taught.  I only started acting as a sophomore in HS.  What other areas in the theatre/film industry are a great place to start (job or internship) that have longevity?  By the way I should mention that I am 6'7" tall so am I limited as a screen actor?

Answer
Sorry for the delay in answering this - life is what happens when you're making other plans, and all that (not to mention the normal chaos of the holidays).

The processes I mentioned - the Meisner Technique, the Method, Stella Adler's process - are all derived originally from Stanislavski, but they have quite different interpretations of what their founders believed Stanislavski actually meant. As such, each program is quite different. If you haven't been exposed to any of them, I would recommend you read "Sanford Meisner on Acting" by Sanford Meisner, "A Dream of Passion" by Lee Strasberg (creator of the Method), and "The Art of Acting" by Stella Adler to get an idea of which one would fit your personal style best.

To be the best you can be, it helps to have experience in literally ALL areas of theatre. If that means a paid job, great. However, most of the paid jobs in the theatre world are typically open only to people with an absolute minimum of a Bachelor's Degree, and typically a Master of Fine Arts degree; and internships are few and far between.

Height generally isn't a big deal in film, because you can do anything with the right camera angles. Sigourney Weaver is over 6 feet tall while Tom Cruise is about 5'7" or so, yet if filmed correctly they could appear to be the same or similar heights. Need more proof? Cameron Diaz is 5'9", yet in "Knight and Day" they both appeared to be about the same height.

Also, the best film actors (and this is currently seeing a revival in Hollywood) are those with a good, solid grounding in stage acting. In other words, I would recommend that you don't focus entirely on film, especially at first.

Acting in Plays, Singing

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J. Spyder Isaacson

Expertise

Especially the Seattle theatre scene. Seattle is the number two theatre city of the nation, having more theatres than any other city (including Chicago!) except New York. I know the reputations of most of the local theatres, have worked with quite a number of them, and am currently earning the majority of my livelihood through live theatre. Beyond that, I have been a working professional for the past 10 years (after a long career in an unrelated field), have done just about everything in the field, and have done every possible type of theatre. Currently, I am also pursuing a new (and unexpected!) career as an animated film producer. (PLEASE NOTE that I am NOT an expert in music!) ***DO NOT*** ASK ME QUESTIONS REGARDING AUDITION SONGS OR MONOLOGUES - the answers require way too much information to be passed along by the All Experts system.

Experience

I have been an award-winning actor, singer, playwright, director and administrator (on various levels, all categories) for the past 30 years. A large part of my expertise has been with live theatre, although I do have a minor connection to filmed theater. I have done musicals, straight dramas, straight comedies, and experimental theatre.

Organizations
Theatre Puget Sound Magical Mystery Troupe Centerstage Theatre Conservatory Board of Trustees (former) Express-Theatre Northwest (former) Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater

Publications
Unrelated trade publications

Education/Credentials
B.A. in Theatre Arts, Gonzaga University M.Ed. in Education and Technology, Western Governor's University (in progress)

Awards and Honors
Mutiple awards (ask for specifics), Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival Valley Community Players, Best Supporting Actor

Past/Present Clients
C's Animation Studio Productions, LLC

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