How not to teach a new talent how to act | Inquirer Entertainment

How not to teach a new talent how to act

/ 12:13 AM November 09, 2015

TV talent tilts put up to discover and develop new stars just love to showcase their best bets’ thespic skills in difficult acting scenes that pit them against veteran actors, hoping that the challenge will push the newbies to “step up” to the oldies but still goodies’ higher level of performance.

Alas, in some cases, that goal is foiled by the oldies’ tendency to “manhandle” the starlets to force them to deliver—and the well-intentioned attempts end up as lessons on how not to teach a new talent how to act!


This was all too obviously in full display in a recent TV talent discovery tilt’s “sampalan” telecast, in which pairs of young comers were furiously slapped around by a veteran actress, who played a mother who thought wrongly that her daughter was fooling around with her boyfriend.

After slapping her daughter in full, righteous, motherly anger, the senior star next rained blows on the hapless (and innocent) boy, until both youths were sobbing and trembling from top to toe, in full, melodramatic froth and fervor!



Discussing the scene later, the veteran star explained that she had found the newbies “lacking” in emotional conviction and “investment,” so she was impelled and felt compelled to “shock” them into the right emotion by manhandling them so physically and forcefully.

As for the youths themselves, they were profuse in expressing their gratitude to their acting mentor for the day, for helping them “feel” the scene more “truthfully”!


At first blush, the acting showcase was a success, because it did flare into a “felt” display of “intense” acting, the loud, livid and contentious stuff that local TV drama series just love to dish out, to make viewers feel melodramatically satisfied and “solved.”

However, closer analysis will show that it was not the right way to teach tyros good acting, because it was so “intended” and forced.

The senior actress herself compromised her own performance by adding to her thespic “obligation” the additional task of “helping” the new talents come up with better portrayals, even if she had to push, slap and force them to do it.


Head and heart

Good acting has to be organic—meaning, completely natural, with no other thoughts and feelings running through the actor’s head and heart except her character’s own!

The minute the actor thinks, “I have to slap these new starlets around to help them,” she’s already being false to her own character’s motivation. So, the veteran “guest actress” and mentor for the day may have had the best intentions, but the scene wasn’t a good teaching moment because it distended the intentions of the sequence, and made everyone concerned “act” instead of be.

As for the young starlets sequentially involved in the series of “showcase” scenes, they didn’t learn right, organic acting lessons, because they focused on the wrong motivations (their own need to come up with “impressive” performances to do well in the competition, to break into “touching” tears and sobs, etc.) and not see what their assigned characters were thinking and feeling.

That’s what happens when new talents aren’t given enough time to learn acting the right way—they end up being forced to rise up to the tough thespic challenge, and thus “learn” how to rely on impressive appearances, rather than on completely natural emotions—which have an amazing, and often untapped power all their own!

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