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Discovering the actor within: Tips, resources, and suggestions on how to pursue a lifelong passion acting

Jan 19, 2012, 9 a.m.

So you want to be an actor -- or maybe you already have an acting background and want to get off the couch and onto the stage. Actually getting on a stage is both an obvious and great place to start if you have an acting class or two beneath your belt.

Before you hop right into the next local production, go over the very basic basics. Make sure you speak loud and clear with your voice booming from the depths of your diaphragm, notes the New York Conservatory of the Dramatic Arts. Also remember to keep yourself "open" on a physical and emotional level. Physical openness means never turning your back on the audience and orchestrating your movements so you are at least angled toward them.

Practice in the mirror to make sure you've got the basics down -- then check out and join a local theater group. This will get you in touch with fellow actors and other contact that may be useful for your passion. You might even end up starring in a local production of "Streetcar Named Desire." Once you've got the local bases covered, it's time to expand.

Pick a stage

Your local theater group and may give you local exposure for a live audience, but maybe your sights lie on TV commercials. Perhaps you want to be part of the next smash sitcom or a movie star. For any of these options, you'll probably have to shoot higher than the leading role in a community production of "Streetcar."

Pick a school

Drama school is one option for learning to act or furthering your craft. A list of acting schools across the U.S. is posted at CattleCallAuditions.com. If you happen to live in New York City, you have a vast number of top-name institutions that can help you ace acting for seniors.

If you happen to live somewhere like Tucumcari, New Mexico, well, there is always the drama department at a nearby community college or university. Contact area schools to find out how to enroll in specific classes with or without going for a full-fledged degree. Many would be happy to admit a student into an acting class for the price of the acting class, even if you're not enrolled in a program.

Read up on the craft

Reading scripts and instructional books on acting can also help review or renew the basics. If you pick up a script and have no idea that "SL" means "stage left" -- or if stage left means your left, or your audience's left -- you might want to pick up several books to review.

Search for books by putting "acting" as a keyword at Amazon.com, or go right to a list an avid reader created entitled "Best Acting Books."

Note the titles and head to your local library or bookstore if you don't want to buy them online. Acting for seniors requires the same basic skills as acting for other adults, and loads of books are out there.

Learning to act, like anything else, takes a lot of practice to hone your craft. It also takes patience, determination and courage to get up on stage and bare your soul but the rewards -- and the applause -- can be worth it.

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