Monday, November 5, 2007

Acting Teachers Offer More Than Just Instruction

Thousands of careers have been wrecked by actors who "changed horses in the middle of the stream." Those actors go from teacher to teacher without ever finding out what any of them have to offer.

They switch from agent to agent before a long-range plan for their career can be developed. They go from one publicist to another, destroying the valuable groundwork of every publicity campaign. Finally, they fight their way out of legitimate contracts -and into oblivion.

The entertainment field is the only business on earth in which a girl who might never make more than forty dollars a week running an elevator can be molded by specialists into a commodity worth thousands of dollars weekly to one of the major industries of our time.

Actors today have unprecedented prestige and social standing.

Most of them use their advantages to good purpose, as does Bob Hope, globe-circling, good-will ambassador extraordinary to the court of humanity. Royalty welcomes Danny Kaye, and so, in many lands, do the underprivileged children to whom he has brought the vitalizing nourishment of laughter.

While the successful actor acquires prestige and social standing in plying his well-paid profession, he attains other gratifying goals.

Almost without exception, every notable performer refers nostalgically to some artistically worth-while venture about which he says happily, "I didn't make much money with it, but it was a great satisfaction to do."

Where does this satisfaction come from? It comes from giving an audience something he believes in: something that to her/him represents, either inspirationally, dramatically or amusingly, the truth as he sees it.

In a discussion of acting, John Mason Brown, distinguished critic and lecturer, paid a tribute to the men and women of the profession when he said, "An actor turns pretense into truth."

Actors work considerably harder than most people think they do. I have heard more than one parent say of his own hard-working, well-established son in show business, "Yes, he's doing all right, but I wish he'd get a real job."

He has one. Acting is a very real job. As the standards of the profession grow continually higher, and the taste of the public keeps pace, the demands on the actor are more exacting.

Those who fulfill these demands will win the ultimate beachhead and earn the right to live securely on the island of success.

Lucille Ball cried her eyes out the night she was fired from RKO as a stock player. But she never stopped working to improve herself. When she was at her lowest ebb, half frightened and altogether frustrated, she put more drive than ever into her career.

She went on the road with a stage production of Elmer Rice's Dream Girl and steamed full speed ahead on the upgrade again.

She, with husband Desi Arnaz, became co-owners of the studio lot where the name DESILU STUDIOS looms high on a sign replacing the letters that used to be there-RKO.

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