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Turning shy girls into fabulous starlets for dummies

PlutocracyPlutocracy regular
edited February 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
So it would seem my little sister is fostering dreams of becoming a West-End sensation and all that jazz. Trouble is, she's pretty darn shy. She goes to a couple of drama clubs every weekend or so and is doing a GCSE (typical high-school qualification here) in Performing Arts so she has something to show for her interest. Trouble is she's always getting the shitty roles which lack something key to impressing others, namely some decent dialogue. She sits at the back and waits for the roles to be handed out, too anxious to make herself known. I've just given her the old cliché advice about how you have to work hard for what you truly want and how she needs to be more pro-active etc. but I doubt she's going to go to bed with my words buzzing through her head.

Anybody got any suggestions for advice I can give her regarding motivation or, even better, are there any performers in general out there with good tips on how to overcome timidity/impress casting people?

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
Plutocracy on

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    EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    the thing about being shy as a performer is that being gregarious enough to land the roles puts you in a good spot to perform well in that role. You don't have to be an extrovert, but you gotta want to be out there, in front of people, potentially making mistakes but doing what you love.

    You usually get the shitty roles to start, no matter what, but if you know some people simply from working around them enough, it usually helps getting over the shyness. And then, you simply gotta talk to these people and be friendly and chat it up when new productions come up. More importantly, if she's not comfortable talking to them about getting the role, how does she know she'd be comfortable talking to them while actually practicing or performing?

    As for pep talks, the standard "everyone gets nervous, you just need to realize that it's always worse in your own head than it actually is" talk is good. It's a personal thing; maybe tagging along to help prod her would help? Or even just being there as a buddy?

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    falsedeffalsedef Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    She needs to know that it's part of her job to show herself off. It's not just "wanting it;" it is it. It's part of the job. This is especially true during the audition process. That's not to say she needs to be an attention whore, but when it's time to come forward, do what needs to be done.

    If she doesn't know what slating is, she should definitely learn that immediately. And she needs to be able to do it confidently and perfectly. It sets the confidence and tone for her actual monologue or read. Tell her that motivation for acting should be the same for auditioning, because auditioning is acting.

    It's good that she's going to a club and getting a diploma(?), and she should continue doing that; but, she also needs to take classes that actually relate to the industry and aren't filled to the brim. Classes give a better environment to literally mess up and come back stronger, which will help her confidence. A good teacher with a good class size will force everyone to act in front of the class (which will make it easier later on) and be able to constructively criticize each person and also notice when they improve. It's something she needs to research, as there are also A LOT of scam classes out there.

    Showbiz scam sidenote: remember kids, managers and agents get you jobs, you don't pay them before that. In fact, the only thing you pay for are headshots (because photography and prints cost money).

    Even if she lands a lame role again, she needs to play that role perfectly. Some of those roles can be done with style and still stand out (of course, that's up to taste, so she shouldn't over do anything).

    I'm not an actor, but acting was something I had fun with when I was much younger. My acting teacher (who had well off industry connections [important!]) was teaching me for free, because she thought I had enough talent to make it in the industry. I've done some extra gigs for TV and movies, and had a manager. Far from amazing or anything, but I'm also a huge geek and never took acting as a serious career path. Your sister should be able to handle the audition and networking processes, if she is serious about it. She also should have something to fall back on, because theater is saturated and she will need to take on other jobs even with amazing talent.

    falsedef on
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited February 2008
    Plutocracy wrote: »
    So it would seem my little sister is fostering dreams of becoming a West-End sensation and all that jazz. Trouble is, she's pretty darn shy. She goes to a couple of drama clubs every weekend or so and is doing a GCSE (typical high-school qualification here) in Performing Arts so she has something to show for her interest. Trouble is she's always getting the shitty roles which lack something key to impressing others, namely some decent dialogue. She sits at the back and waits for the roles to be handed out, too anxious to make herself known. I've just given her the old cliché advice about how you have to work hard for what you truly want and how she needs to be more pro-active etc. but I doubt she's going to go to bed with my words buzzing through her head.

    Anybody got any suggestions for advice I can give her regarding motivation or, even better, are there any performers in general out there with good tips on how to overcome timidity/impress casting people?

    Er, this sounds slightly wrong, unless this new non-competitive bumph has reached epic proportions. She waits at the back for roles to be handed out? They don't audition for roles?

    IF: They don't audition, then this might be a fairly standard kind of wait-your-turn amdram club where you have to 'serve' for a certain period of time to get a decent role. This is bollocks imo. Also, these things will be even more cliquey than your average drama setting (clique-o-meter already off the map). Look elsewhere (see below).

    IF: They do audition, then she needs to improve her auditioning, or audition full stop. They should teach her something along these lines in GCSE drama and so on, or at least the experience of being a tree should build comfort with doing the uncomfortable or embarassing. But important to point out to her that being shy in general, especially at this point as a teenager, is not a handicap to directors, producers and the people who run these things (I kno cos I used tu bee 1) On the contrary, it can be a bonus (you are more likely to listen, take direction and acknowledge your lack of experience). It will possibly be seen as a handicap by the other acting members of the group or other kids, but welcome to teenagedom. Ignore them.

    What is vitally important, however, is that she demonstrate an ability to come out of her shell whenever stuck on stage, in an audition, rehearsal, etc etc. Looking shy or self-conscious when playing a role is fatal, because it demonstrates that you are just playing. If that is a problem, she needs to find a way to overcome it, or nothing will ever happen for her, simple as.

    If it turns out that her current group is one of the aformentioned bag of tits, then encourage her to look elsewhere. She could do worse than auditioning for the National Youth Music Theatre or the National Youth Theatre, both of which do several productions & courses a year, run on a residential basis (ie you go and stay in London for a couple of weeks). Particularly the NYMT looks for very young actors regularly to fill choruses etc, but tries to give everyone their 'moment' as well as the benefit of operating in a semi-pro environment. They are tough to get into, however, so be prepared for rejection.

    You need to dig a little deeper, find out why and when the shyness is affecting her, and go from there.

    PS No offence to US people posting, but specific career/group-type advice about what to do as a US drama type is unhelpful. The system & style here works very, very differently as I found out when I went over to DC.

    Not Sarastro on
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