Many people feel that acting is something that people just know how to do. Perhaps you have been told that you should become an actor because you are able to slip in and out of bold and entertaining characters. In fact, those around you may be right. You may have that hidden potential to become very good at the art of acting. However, before you run out to your first audition it is important that you dedicate some time to developing your craft so that you can start to get the roles that you want to audition for. In fact, one of the most important skills for you to hone is the art of listening.
It does not sound like listening is something that you should have to work on, but in reality listening while you are acting is vitally important and probably one of the most difficult skills to master. Your ability to really listen while you are acting can take your performance from an amateur level to a truly engaging and inspirational performance.
All too often beginning actors jump into scene work head first immersing themselves in what their character is trying to achieve. You will often hear this referred to as your characters objective. Essentially, that means what your character wants in the scene? What is your character trying to achieve? It is easy to get wrapped up in what your character wants, but that only results in a very one sided performance. Rather than creating an onstage relationship that your audience will find enthralling you will end up looking disconnected an egotistical in your performance.
Why? If you are not able to truly listen to those that you are acting with you will not allow for your natural instincts and reactions to play out. 9 times out of 10 your instincts are right as an actor, but many beginning actors do not trust themselves. Instead, they try to over think and plan out every action and reaction. Rather you want to really pay attention to what is being said to you. Not only should you listen to the words that are being said to you, but you must also pay attention to the way that they are delivered. As actors in a scene you and your partner are trying to affect each other, and by listening to what your partner is saying and how they are saying it you are able to react and respond in a more natural way.
Again, it is important to remember that listening sounds easier than it really is. One of the best ways to tell if you are actively listening in a scene is when you start to lose yourself in the moment and find your performance being affected by those around you. Your reaction to every line should be slightly different because you are giving the words being said to you impact you. You can practice this every time that you get on your feet being in an acting class, while auditioning, or performing for an audience. In fact, the more that you practice your active listening skills the more quickly you will progress from being a beginner to a dependent actor that others want to work with.