Early last week I received an email from Brian Timoney (a UK-based tutor of “method” acting) claiming to contain a link to a report revealing the “dirty little secret” that drama schools “do not want you to know”. The “report”, in fact, appeared to be a desperate attempt to attract prospective students to his own drama school.
The report in no way “ruffled my feathers”, as Brian claimed it would many, but it is an interesting source to blog about. As the report was so long (although largely repetitive), I can only comment on my own interpretations of his various points, so if any readers are interested in finding out more you can visit his website.
His report appears to claim that you are only guaranteed success if you study method acting, and that no drama school in the UK does this to a satisfactory level. While the latter may or may not be true, I hope that no aspiring actors have been taken in by his many inflexible statements. It is, of course, fantastic that he believes so wholly in the method he teaches. However, to claim that the only chance of success is to study method acting is absurd. Many Oscar-winning method actors are emphasised, such as Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis, with no mention of all those successful actors without a pure method-based training, such as Kate Winslet or Johnny Depp.
There is also a claim that success in the business relies solely on your ability as an actor, not “who you know”. I think that most people would agree that this too is absurd. If the most talented actor in the world is never put in touch with the right people, (s)he may never “make it”. Of course, the least talented actor may have all the “right” contacts, but without both the ability to network and solid acting skills together, it is far more unlikely that an actor would succeed.
There are many points brought up in the report which I disagree with, including the false claim that at other drama schools “you learn how to use your voice, how to learn lines, stage business, set responses and imitating what you did before” in what Brian refers to as “parrot fashion”. My own training at LIPA was above and beyond merely learning how to use my voice and how to learn lines, and studied other methods of achieving interesting and believable “authenticity” which Brian claims can be achieved only through method acting. But my main concern is to stress to any aspiring actors that it is important to find the right training for you. Every drama school will claim that they are the “best”, and rightly so if students are expected to fully invest themselves in that school’s method of training. But each individual is different, and this is why it is so important to “audition” the school that is auditioning you. And don’t be taken in by others’ assumptions that “success” = Hollywood. Success can only be defined on an individual basis - for some, that might be LA; for others, the RSC, West End, Broadway, or British Drama, etc, all requiring different skills and comprised of different styles, which will not necessarily appeal to every actor.
I have been receiving Brian Timoney’s newsletters for many months now, and while I may or may not always agree with what is written, there is always something interesting to read. His website is worth a look if you are at all interested in method acting - www.briantimoneyacting.co.uk.
There are few blog-worthy stories from Wonderland this week. Aside from a dodgy scene change, a missing prop, and successfully driving the company van into the back of a truck, the show is happily plodding along as before, with few mishaps, embarrassing moments, or unexpected incidents to report. Shame about the truck.