If you are considering the world of dramatic arts as a potential career or part-time hobby, you are not alone in thinking that it simply involves learning a script and then mustering up all of your natural talent to deliver the lines well! There is, however, much more to it than this and these tips on acting should make that clear.

So while talent is hugely helpful in most acting classes, did you know that you can actually learn how to act? Like anything in life, education and practice will improve on your best efforts which is why this article not only offers great tips on acting but will answer the question, what is drama?

The world of dramatic arts is a highly competitive industry that is based on constantly showcasing your talent at audition after audition. This as you can imagine requires a considerable amount of self-confidence. When you walk away from an audition, you should know that at the very least, you do know how to act and that you have done all you can to portray yourself as a professional actor or actress. The more effort that you put into your acting classes, the more skills you will pick up. It makes sense that this will pay off as you impress casting directors, land roles and begin to earn a living.

Whether you have only begun to ask yourself what is drama, or whether you are an experienced actor, you will find there are a great many tips on acting that will sharpen your skills and hone your craft.

What is Drama? More than Method Acting and Improvisation

Your first step is to understand that acting classes are wide-ranging, and can specialise in various aspects of drama. Here are a few examples:

  • Method acting
  • Audition technique classes
  • Improvisation courses
  • Scene Study Classes
  • Sight reading classes, also known as cold reading

When it comes to tips on acting it should be noted that most actors find huge benefit from acting technique classes which focus on the different types of acting techniques. And you’ll soon understand why this is the class that truly answers that question: what is drama?

mime artist performing on stage
Choose your acting method based on your performance goals. | Source: Unsplash

While there are many famous acting techniques available, with method acting and improvisation being the most well-known, you could find many other techniques in your quest to learn how to act. Here are few that are likely to be found in acting classes for every level of ability:

The Meisner Technique

The Meisner technique is one that is very popular in most acting classes. Originated by Sanford Meisner, this technique encourages the actor to fully adopt the present moment and emotions of the character they are playing by responding as authentically as they can to their acting partner as they go through their lines.

If you are searching for tips on acting, the Meisner technique is one that aims to add emotion and authenticity to the actor’s overall performance.

The Stanislavsky Method

Another popular technique taught in acting classes is the Stanislavsky method, a foundational method for anyone learning how to act. In these acting classes, the method requires that the actor delves into their own personal emotions in an effort to self-reflect and ask themselves how they would indeed respond to the situation they are reading about in the script.

The idea behind this method is that if the actor is able to understand and feel the emotions of the character that they are playing, they are set up to deliver an authentic and truthful performance.

Method Acting

Method acting which grew from the teachings of Stanislavsky is seen today as fundamental when it comes to adopting tips on acting. This acting technique was further developed by dramatic arts stalwart Lee Strasberg. The method acting technique actually imposes on the actor to actually imagine the thoughts that their character would have, resulting in an emotional connection that again, truly sums up that question what is drama!

Finding the Right Acting Classes and Acting Techniques

At the end of the day, in your journey to learn how to act you may decide to focus on a particular acting technique, or you may decide to draw inspiration from a combination of different types. This is where the use of your individual creativity could make you famous.

students in drama class
Choose an acting class that most appeals to your performance style. | Source: Unsplash

So should you adopt Method Acting, the Meisner technique, the Stanislavsky Method, or something else?

One possible solution would be to try them all to find out which approach resonates most naturally with you – and that’s truly one of the best tips on acting you could receive.

Apart from the methods already mentioned here that could teach you how to act, there are numerous others, such as the Practical Aesthetics technique or the Chekhov technique, which you could find out more about through your dramatic arts classes or tutor.

It is also very useful to watch actors perform (whether on camera or on stage) the various acting techniques as this will help you to see how they differ and also teach you through observation.

When it comes to the dramatic arts, what you put in is what you will get out, so apart from your acting classes, do other things that will help you to learn to act. Find and watch movies that feature well-known improvisational or method actors. If you are really interested in a particular method, watch the movie over and over until you studied it!

Of course, one of the tips on acting to consider is to practically try out the various acting techniques yourself in order to decide which one is for you. Whether you are performing a monologue or attending a scene study class, you could be asked to implement certain acting techniques so that you can see their differences. This will not only teach you how to act, but will also highlight your strengths and weaknesses, boost your confidence and improve your performances.

How to Find Acting Classes in South Africa

There are so many pathways to enter the exciting world of the dramatic arts!

In South Africa, some high schools offer drama as a matric subject. After school, many students elect to study drama or the performing arts at university level, while others enrol for acting lessons in private drama schools as an extra-curricular subject or hobby.

If you are serious about acting classes or want to hone your method acting or any of the other techniques, a private tutor could be your answer. Using the Superprof website you could search for acting classes with a tutor near you based on your location. Alternatively, if you cannot find one near you, you could sign up with a tutor online, all you would need is an internet connection and a webcam.

drama students in class
Try a variety of acting techniques to establish which one you prefer. | Source: Superprof

The added bonus of using a Superprof tutor is that many of them actually offer their first lesson as a free introductory trial. This means you can discuss your goals and check out their personality and teaching style before committing to your acting classes.

It’s important to remember that when it comes to private acting classes, content can vary according to the specialty or experience of the teacher. Some providers might only teach the method acting technique for instance. If you, however, want to learn something else, take your time, and do enough research to have the background you need to make a decision on which acting class, tutor, or workshop to sign up for.

One of the best tips on acting you could get is to try and find out as much as you can about the variety of techniques and content offered in acting classes. Having this knowledge will help you decide whether you want to specialise in one technique or learn how to act using a range of methods.

There are several universities in South Africa where you could take acting classes and even finish with a Bachelor or Master’s Degree. Stellenbosch University, Pretoria University, the University of Cape Town, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal are all reputed to have excellent dramatic arts faculties.

You could also check out Helen O' Grady Drama Academy, City Varsity, and the Waterfront Theatre School.

If you can’t find a drama school in your area that is able to specialise in the acting technique that interests you, or if you want to study at your own pace in your time, you could consider a private acting tutor.

Superprof has a wide range of tutors across South Africa that offer both online and face-to-face courses. Not only does using a private tutor, give you flexibility, but your study becomes very personal, allowing you to truly hone in on the techniques that interest you.

We hope these tips on acting have inspired you to look into the colourful world of the dramatic arts. Break a leg!

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Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.