Verisimilitude: The Key to Good Acting

Verisimilitude: The Key to Good Acting

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse. Here is a simple truism: for something to have the ring of truth it must appear as something we recognize as truthful. And here is a correlating truism: nothing speaks from the stage but truth. Nothing! Whether you are a tree on the stage of your school auditorium or a professional actor on a sound stage in Hollywood, it is only when your performance has the appearance of truth that it will really touch your audience. This is not to say that acting that lacks verisimilitude can not still entertain, and even delight, an audience, particularly if that audience is rounded out by appreciative relatives watching your debut performance as a tree. But you can be sure that without that element no audience, no matter how appreciative, will be truly touched, moved, or affected by that which they see and hear on the stage in any meaningful, profound, or lasting way. The unfortunate footnote to these truisms is that many actors do not know them to be true or do not know how to make them happen. The much happier footnote is that bringing truth to your work on stage is simpler than you think and something you already know how to do, so let’s break it down. To start with, all characters are people (ostensibly), and all actors are people too. This means that for characters on stage to appear to us as “real people” they must do what real people do, and what real people do all day, all the time is pursuewants. You always want something. Always! If you...
The 5 Audition Tips You Absolutely Want to Know! (+ a Few Bonus Tips)

The 5 Audition Tips You Absolutely Want to Know! (+ a Few Bonus Tips)

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse. Whether you audition with a reader, a monologue, or with sides at your local community theater, the truth is that auditioning is a skill that is more like a cousin to acting than a brother. To be sure they are similar, but the artifice of the audition room makes them very different as well. So different in fact that just because you can go toe-to-toe with Meryl in a scene study does not necessarily mean that you can nail it at the audition. Conversely, and more importantly, it means that nailing it at the audition doesn’t necessarily mean they think you’ll be Meryl on the stage. “Cie, you’re saying that getting the part doesn’t mean I was the best actor in the room?” (That was your line.) Yes, that is exactly what I’m saying, but I am saying it because if you believe that to be true, then you probably also believe the opposite, that not getting the part means you are not a good actor, and therein lies the danger. So let’s go through what you should believe, and what you should do, with regards to every audition. Stick with me, and I promise that reading this will help you develop such a healthy and sustainable attitude towards the auditioning process that you might even start enjoying them. #1. (We are starting at the top here, folks – no time for a countdown – so if you only learn one thing, this is what it should be…) Every audition is a matching process at least as much, if not more, than...
How to Maintain a Healthy Attitude Toward Job Interviewing

How to Maintain a Healthy Attitude Toward Job Interviewing

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse. Most actors know that auditions are like job interviews, but I’m not sure how many non-actors realize that the reverse is also true. Since a wannabe performer might go on more auditions in a year than most people will go on job interviews in a lifetime, the tips, tricks, and techniques that follow, which are the same ones I teach my acting students, should be invaluable for helping non-actors successfully negotiate the challenges of any job interview they might face. #1 Not getting the job is NOT a statement of your value, worth, or even your marketability. (If you get only one thing from this article, please let it be this!) In the same way that actors can mistakenly question the level of their talent when faced with some failure to land roles, job applicants can mistakenly question their sense of self-worth when faced with a dearth of job offers. But you MUST keep in mind that any selection process, especially one that ends in the choosing of just one final candidate from among many, is at least as much a matching game as it is a talent contest. That means that just because a handful of people determine that you are not the best fit for their company does not mean that you lack value as a candidate in the job market at large, or even for their company. In fact, if you were invited in for more than one interview then they saw value in your qualifications and considered you a viable candidate, so be buoyed by that success. Regardless, however,...
An Open Call for Opinions

An Open Call for Opinions

Hamlet said, “…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” and to the depths of my soul I have always believed this to be true. In fact, I recently created a pair of customized Converse sneakers with that phrase emblazoned on the side. (Okay, it’s a lesser commitment than tattooing it on my body, but I do plan to have those trainers for a long time!) Accepting this precept, however, begs this question: Is a tenacious spirit the excellent quality I have always thought it to be, or, rather, a stubborn refusal to know when it is time to give up? With that in mind, along with the recent horrifying discovery that the word perseverance can be rearranged to form the crude anagram “never see crap,” I have decided to throw caution – and perhaps common sense – to the wind. “Vulnerability be damned,” say I. Social media has unparalleled potency, and I must harness it!! What I am really saying is this: Please watch the motion comic video of IF I HAD A DIME, the grown-up cartoon I have been developing for the past 3 years, and share your thoughts with me, bearing in mind that this video is a simple attempt to realize a vision that requires full animation, with its attendant full budget, to be thoroughly executed. The video can be found here. More on the show can be found here. I appreciate your attention, willingness to share, and useful feedback more than you can know....
Semicolon Use Simplified

Semicolon Use Simplified

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse. I have always liked the semicolon, the cute ocular half of a winky smiley face. Despite the great confusion it seems to cause many of its would-be users, it is actually a very straightforward punctuation mark. That means that we can do the same thing with semicolons that we did with apostrophes in Apostrophe Use Simplified, which is to identify two easy-to-understand rules that will properly handle nearly every use of a semicolon you will encounter in your writing both professionally and personally. So let’s begin… Semicolon Usage #1: Separating items in a list that already contains commas. Recently I was asked to write an article on the proper uses of a comma, a minefield of a topic given both its breadth and the many exceptions to its rules. That being said, nearly everyone understands what is perhaps the comma’s most common use, separating items in a list. (Okay, let’s just address that pesky final comma before the “and” right now. Both “apples, pears and bananas” and “apples, pears, and bananas” are perfectly correct. The latter example uses what is called an Oxford comma, and while I prefer to use it myself, all you need to do is be consistent about either using it or not, and you will be just fine.) So if a comma separates items in a list, why would you need to use a semicolon for the same function? The following example will provide a clear answer: This year we will travel to Paris, Texas, Athens, Georgia, and Naples, Florida. Confusing, right? Will this itinerary find us traveling...