Only Read This if you Want your Acting Career Dreams to Come True
Smuggling Scene Study into London
1. Dirty Dedication
Maybe it’s because I’m American. Maybe it’s because I spent 10 years in New York City thinking up elaborate ways to escape my day job(s). Maybe I’m just a weirdo with a mission.
But it has never occurred to me to stop training.
After two years at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts NYC I got my Associate in acting, and by the time I graduated I was pretty much ready to be famous, but was I any good at acting? Not really.
So I spent the next 8 years getting better by taking scene study class. There were some on-camera and clown classes in the mix, but mostly it was scene study.
I have never not been acting. Doing the acting has always been a priority. Doing the acting is like making sure my soul is getting enough vitamins.
My hippie, therapist parents put me in a Waldorf school from 1st to 8th grade where we did a play every year. Then I went to a performing arts high school where we had week-long science-intensives (WTF?) twice a year so that we could spend the rest of our time doing and seeing theatre.
I took a gap year and attended the RSAMD summer acting course in Glasgow. 10 years later I would return to graduate with my MA.
Meanwhile, I maintained approximately 4 different day jobs at a time in New York to help support my acting habit. I don’t think I’ve ever taken more than a few months off of going to scene study class, ever.
Then I moved to London.
But I’ll circle back to that.
2. Lets break it Down
A. Do professional musicians or dancers take a break from practicing for, let’s say, 5 months, then get 3 days to prepare for an audition and expect to book it? Um, no. Why is acting considered any different?
B. Are you the best actor you can possibly be? I’m gonna go ahead and assume the answer is a no. Good. Do you have an actual plan to get better or are you content to mostly plateau, growing incrementally as you book a job here and there until death?
C. Do you feel better when you are acting? Does acting make you happy, give you energy and strength? Does being around your Actor-Tribe make you feel like you’ve come home, make you feel like you’ve got a safe place to be creative and take big risks?
I’ve always assumed that one day I’d have a really successful career. Not because success would fall into my lap, but because I was not going to stop working to become a really good actor until I got there.
I honestly don’t understand what other option there is, day job hell?
It’s not hard, all that work, because acting is what makes me sense. And when I stop acting for long periods of time, it’s like I stop making sense. It’s that simple.
3. Back to London & the Moment
When I moved to London I could not find a scene study class. I didn’t want a technique class, I already had a technique and a process, what I wanted was to practice and an outside eye to call me on my bullsh*t and challenge me.
Finally, I gave up. I conceded defeat. I wasn’t going to be able to take a scene study class in London.
And then it dawned on me… I was going to start my own scene study studio.
But then I was like, wait, I can not do that! I don’t have wrinkles. Every acting teacher I’ve ever had has got wrinkles.
But then I was like, f*ck it, I’m going to try anyway.
You may be wondering at this point what this scene study thing even is. Scene study is where actors come to work on scenes from plays usually, but sometimes tv/film. The scenes and scene partners are assigned so that the actor gets to focus on the acting (plus there are infinite benefits to just being cast). Often, the actors will meet for a rehearsal before presenting the scene in class, using costumes and props as needed. Actors will work on the same scene for 2 weeks.
Scene study teachers vary in approach. For me, the most important thing is that the actor brings their own creativity to every single moment—ultimately getting better at acting is not just about becoming more imaginative and emotionally available, it’s also about getting better at analysis and self-directing.
My scene study endeavor started small and for free. Even though I’d been taking scene study for so long I had to teach myself how to teach it after all. 4 months later I had two on-going classes a week with 16 students, plus a couple more for coaching.
Then Covid hit. It took me a few months but I was able to start teaching online using tv and film scripts instead of plays. To be perfectly candid, it’s been a success. I get rave reviews from students and have regulars that literally sign up for every single class.
However, it’s been difficult to inspire new students to try it out, to continue to train. And I don’t understand it. And I just wanted to say that I’m so ready to have a conversation about it.
4. Scene study, a love letter
I believe in scene study.
I was able to snag an online spot in my old scene study class out of NYC this year. It was so much fun. I got roles that were completely new and stretched me in scary and exciting ways. And the feeling after performing them was unbeatable, I was flying high.
I believe that every actor should have that feeling of victory on the reg. I believe that that’s how they should be walking into the audition room.
I’ve seen the incredible growth from the actors in my class, from those who’ve only ever had a bit of Meissner to West End performs.
I want to know, what are you preparing for? What sorts of shows or movies would you like to be apart of? How would you like to feel between acting gigs? How are you going to show up for your dreams?
From this crazy American actress