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Acting or Scene Study Classes – What’s the Difference?

By: Carolyne Barry

It is important to understand the differences between “Acting Classes” and “Scene Study”? Up until recently, because I never really thought about it, I believed they were synonymous. Even the dictionary does not differentiate. But after researching the concept, I now know there is a big difference and you should to.

I believe the major distinction is like the difference between a “house-building” class and a carpentry class. One has an instructor to oversee the construction of the project, and directs the student carpenter on what needs to be done to the walls and railings, etc, -helping direct him/her to build that particular house before moving on to the next one. Whereas in a carpentry class the instructor teaches each student how to master the use of each tool, thus making him a master carpenter first, before empowering him to go off with confidence in applying his skill set on most any project. For the actor, who has no clear set of “tools,” he will eventually be lost without his scene study teacher, who in many cases held the actor’s hand until the scene was brought to fruition, – thus giving actors a false sense that they are ready to tackle countless scenes that have yet to even be written. In contrast, in a good acting technique class, the tools to be a great actor are taught first, and then applied to scenes, making the work more about the growth and creativity of the actor than the fulfillment of the scene as the teacher interprets it. In short, a scene study class may make him or her feel good about their work, but in truth they will learn more about their scene than they do about themselves as artists.

For those more dedicated to developing the building blocks to strong techniques (especially new actors) then “acting classes” are the way to go. I personally recommend starting with an acting class with a teacher who is using established techniques or maybe their version of it (which many do). Training this way gives new actors the foundation and tools to eventually not be dependent on their teachers to create quality auditions and work. This is why I am a fan of new actors as well as some self-proclaimed professionals starting their training with ACTING classes.

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