How to Get Involved in Acting

A massive box the size of a refrigerator got delivered to your door and you’re six years old. The next thing you know you’re drawing all over it with washable markers, cutting out holes with those mini scissors, and making believe it’s a rocket. These kids aren’t worrying about paying bills or the aches in their knees. Their ears are tuned up for the ice cream truck and countdowns for their birthdays are on. So, why does this childlike nature of pretend have to end once we grow up?

In a study conducted in 2016 by researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of Alabama, it was found that children who engage in fantastical play, as opposed to standard play or standard schoolwork, greatly enhanced their executive functions of behavioral control and emotional regulation (Thibodeau et al). Acting and improvisation are just some of the many ways that adults can incorporate this fantastical playfulness into their life.

Ria Torricelli, Creative Director at Shore Thing Theater, expounds on the differences between improv and acting. She explained that improv is usually unscripted, relies on audience suggestions, and is made up on the spot. Improv, at its core, relies on the “yes and” tactic, in which all participants must agree with whatever a fellow partner throws at them in terms of setting and situation. By being quick on your toes and constantly diving deep into the sparkling treasure chest of imagination that we all have, one can create a great show.

Torricelli shared some of the benefits of improv, “You can sharpen your communication skills, learn how to cooperate, speak clearly and confidently in front of a public audience, and overall use your imagination.” To get started in improv, your best bet would be to join a local improv class or attend a performance.

Acting, on the other hand, relies heavily on script, sequence, and order. Annie Sacks, the lead actor in Monmouth University’s new Music & Theater Arts production A Doll’s House, shares some ins and outs of acting.

Sacks attended a performing arts high school. Once she came to Monmouth, she joined the MU Players club where she took on the role of stage manager.

In this role, Annie recorded each scene change, blocking and lighting, and was the point of contact for rehearsal reports and conflicts. She developed a key understanding of communicating with actors and lighting designers among many others. With Sacks being the lead, she shared that acting is no easy feat.

Sacks continued, “I have hundreds of lines in the show and so it was really challenging in the beginning to try and memorize everything. However, once I realized the story I was telling and contributing to the overall theme, it became a lot easier to speak as if I was my character.”

Some tips that she shared on lines and executing your acting is to physically be in the space in which you’re performing. This way, you can tie what you’re saying into what you’re physically doing.

Also, practice and repetition with other actors are essential. She highlights that there are many introductory classes at Monmouth that give students the opportunity to try something new in an environment that is not so strict. MU Players, the student-run theater club, also gives students the opportunity to try different areas of the theater that they may have never experienced before in a safe environment.Up on stage with a light that holds more impact than the shining sun, many may regret eating that heavy lunch while hundreds of eyes stare back in anticipation or judgment.

MU 22’ alum Mitchell Hendricks found the acting experience cathartic and relaxing, having been involved in more than 12 plays over four years. He said, “My favorite part of acting is being able to process and express my emotions in a healthy way. A lot of people think of acting as putting on a metaphorical ‘mask’ to play a given part, but my experience is that acting is really taking off the metaphorical mask that we all wear on a daily basis, to find the emotion and experience of your character within your own life.”

To immerse yourself into the life of someone else can be a form of expression, escape, or childlike play. With the multitude of options available on campus as well as locally.

Just as with any craft within theater—such as lighting, costume design, set design, choreography, and, of course, acting—, Sacks said, “It is so worth seeing all of your hard work come together and be able to share it with everyone else.”