Entrepreneurship Lessons From Drama Class, Part 2

How does Drama Class relate to entrepreneurship?

I started taking acting lessons to tap into the creativity I lost in my years at corporate America. Interestingly enough, I started noticing that each session not only brought me insights into creativity, but also into entrepreneurship.

My Drama curriculum spans a wide range of topics – auditions, monologues, and scripted scenes. My Director gradually weaves new topics into previous ones that we have already absorbed. She gives us the opportunity to practice various scenarios, perform in front of our peers and provides feedback on the spot.

Every Monday after class ends at 10:30 pm, I come home and type up notes from that day’s lesson. I find that the lessons from drama class are not only applicable to my entrepreneurial endeavors, but also to my daily life. Today I share a few more of these lessons with you.

Auditions

When you hear the word audition, what images does it conjure in your mind? Do you imagine a line of candidates eagerly expecting their turn? Can you sense his or her excitement? Do you imagine a trio of judges waiting to evaluate the candidate’s presentation? Are you curious to know what the candidate will perform – a song or an act? Do you cringe at their performance? Or are you amazed by their ability, composure and poise? How do you feel when the judges praise them or reject them?

Lessons from drama class - auditions

Image Credit: Tedxbeirut

Believe it or not, all of us encounter auditions in our daily lives! In most cases the judge might be a lone business client, an investor or a mentor that we are trying to convince of our brilliant life changing idea. The audition may not be televised or even be apparent to the parties involved. Nevertheless, our performance is being evaluated by these judges. Increasing our awareness and portraying our best self in these daily auditions can amplify our success. Indeed, there are many similarities between acting auditions and real life presentation scenarios.

In auditions, monologues are considered the gold standard. Most casting directors expect an actor to have a repertoire of monologues to choose from. However, some directors prefer improvisational monologues, a group/individual reading or a cold reading.

Today, I contrast warm reading versus cold reading. More so than monologues, these two types of auditions depict our daily interactions. I have learned a wealth of lessons from participating in simulated auditions in drama class.

Lessons from Drama Class – Warm Reading Audition

Of the two types of readings one can be expected to perform at an audition, the most popular and preferred one is “warm” reading. Simply put, this is an improvisational, or script based audition.

The actor is presented a script or a scenario and may be asked to pair up with other actors. The team is given a brief period of time to review and practice the script. The actor or team enacts the scene on stage in front of the director and a select audience.

It all sounds easy doesn’t it? But there are many pros and cons to a warm reading.

Pros:

The pros are in favor of this particular brand of audition and it is no surprise that many actors prefer it.

  1. There is adequate time to practice and immerse yourself in the character.
  2. Different writers have different styles. By practicing your dialogue you can uncover tonality and nuances that the writer intended to convey.
  3. You can imagine the gestures and postures that your character might use.
  4. Through practice, you can overcome the challenge of reciting segments of difficult dialogue.

Cons:

With a warm reading, the cons (especially over thinking) outweighed the pros for me. Just being aware of these cons improves my future chances of performing well.

  1. There is such a thing as over thinking. You should deliver the scene as rehearsed and not inject any last minute changes that may break continuity.
  2. If you are uncomfortable with the part (after all this is an audition) and start to dwell on that aspect, you will jeopardize your performance. Instead focus on delivery of the dialogue and portray the character to the best of your ability.

How you can apply these lessons

The best outcome of any audition is a memorable performance. You can achieve this in a warm reading by accentuating the traits of the character, nuances in the script and showcasing your acting talents.

Warm reading is prevalent in your daily work. When you are preparing for a presentation or a “pitch” at work, you are essentially enacting a scene you have rehearsed numerous times. To increase your chances of captivating your audience – learn from the above pros. Immerse yourself in the character, project your confidence through your body language, revisit ideas that may be a bit challenging and above all do not over think, just perform!

I urge you to rehearse and tape your performance. Ask a friend or a mentor to critique your presentation, body language and pace. Maintain a record of your performance to review and improve your style.

Lessons from Drama Class – Cold Reading Audition

A Cold Reading is the second most popular format for auditions next to monologues. In a cold reading, the actor is provided a script on the premises and expected to perform immediately. The actor and their partner(s) may have a few minutes to glance through the script before they go on stage.

At first performing a cold reading sounded difficult to me. But as I found out, for some the pros may outweigh the cons.

Pros:

I am told that many actors dread cold reading. I happen to love this type of audition for these reasons:

  1. It allows you to bring your entire presence to that moment.
  2. You don’t dread or over think the next segment of dialogue.
  3. If you are skilled reader who has the conviction to portray a scene, yet lack the experience that years of acting provide, and then cold reading could be the perfect option for you.

Cons:

Practice and preparation will help any actor overcome these cons associated with a cold reading.

  1. There is barely any time to gauge the setting or understand the intent of the character in the scene.
  2. The dialogue in the script may be unpredictable.
  3. If it is peppered with challenging sentences, the actor will have to stumble through them without fully understanding the context.
  4. If you or your partner are not comfortable with working on the fly or with each other, you might not deliver your best performance.

How you can apply these lessons

Although it is less pervasive in your daily life than warm reading, everyone can benefit from practicing cold reading. This type of audition highlights your reading and speaking skills, which are foundational competencies for any employee or entrepreneur. At a minimum every one should be able to read aloud.

I urge you to practice reading aloud every day. For non-native English speakers, this will help fine-tune your pronunciation and accent. For native English speakers it will give you a greater degree of familiarity with the ebb and flow of dialogue.

Reading is a surefire way to expand your worldview and will prepare you to converse spontaneously on any subject.

Four Warm Up Exercises For Auditions

The success of an audition rests in bringing your entire authentic self to that moment. Here are four ways to de-stress and warm up before an audition. The purpose of these moves is to relax your mind and loosen your body so that you can deliver a phenomenal presentation.

1. Breath 

If you are nervous, deep breathing will help you calm down and focus. Take a deep breath in, hold your breath for a moment and breath out. Repeat this exercise to 10 counts.

2. Body

Stress manifests itself as tension in our body. Focus one body part at a time, softening the muscle. Start with your toes and move up your body as you relax each muscle. Feel the tension leave your body as you slowly sink into relaxation.

3. Face 

Move your facial muscles – open them wide and scrunch them up small. Practice a few expressions. Yawn, move your jaw, move your tongue around. Loosen up your face.

4. Vocals

You want to exercise your voice before an audition, not overwork it. Clear your throat and practice a gentle hum. Hum or speak a few words at the bottom of your register and work your way up. Now try the opposite direction. Practice a few tongue twister words.

There you have it, these are the two types of auditions that an actor must face. Anyone can benefit from applying my lessons from drama class especially those from auditions. Warming up prior to a presentation will relax your mind and loosen your body allowing you to focus on giving your best performance.

Are there any new lessons you have learned from this post? What are some of the warm up exercises you perform before a presentation or audition?

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