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Acting Workshops vs. Scene Study Classes

by: Carolyne Barry

When you are ready to start training realize their are numerous techniques to choose from (i.e. Sanford Meisner, Method (Strasberg), Stanislavski, Chekhov, Uta Hagen, or Stella Adler.) Find the one that is right for you.

After researching all the various techniques and auditing different teachers then choose the training discipline you feel is the best fit for you.  Next choose if want to take acting class or scene study.

Often actors think that Scene Study is the way to study acting. Yet, Acting technique classes for many actors is often a better way to build a strong foundation. I used to think that Scene Classes were the same as acting technique classes but have learned the difference and the value.

“Scene study” primarily involves individual scenes or monologues from a play or film, which are assigned to the student actors. The instructor directs and teaches his/her approach using scripts as the vehicle. He/she might have some warm-ups or exercises, but their major focus is the scene work.

Whereas “acting classes” offer a step-by-step process utilizing specific techniques and exercises before scenes are assigned.  Once scenes are introduced to the students, the teacher continues to add more challenging techniques.

Essentially, it is like the difference between a “house-building” class and a carpentry class. One has the instructor t oversee the construction of the project, advising the students everything that needs to be done, helping direct him/her to build a particular house before moving on to the next one. Whereas in a carpentry class, the instructor teaches each student how to master every tool, thus making him a master carpenter first, then he is empowered to go off to work.

The actor who has no clear set of “tools” is more dependent on his scene study teacher, Whereas, a good acting technique teacher teaches the tools to be a great actor then applies them to scripts. (AND there teachers who do both.) For the most part,  a scene study class may initially make students feel good about their scene work, but in truth they will learn more about their scene than they do about themselves as artists. 

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