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Essential Acting Skills and How to Develop Them

There’s a lot more to being an actor than most people believe. As a person who is taking an acting career seriously, you’ll be aware that just having the right “look” for a role isn’t enough to launch your career.  Let’s examine the acting skills you’ll need and how to develop those acting skills. Of course, further study is always helpful, but apart from enrolling in acting schools, there are many ways in which you can get some practice in everyday life. Here’s what you need to know. 

Communication Skills Are Key

As an actor, you must be a master communicator. It’s not just what you say but how you say it, and beyond mere words, it’s the way you reinforce your message with body language and facial expressions. But communication doesn’t happen in isolation. Being a good communicator means listening to others, observing them, looking for nuances, and responding appropriately. 

The best way to practise? Express yourself! Be self-aware and recognise all the elements you’re putting to work. Be an observer of humanity: the tired commuter returning for work, the happy couple out on a date, the hurried shopper rushing to get groceries – can you spot them? How did you identify them? Can you interpret the role? Remember: all the world’s a stage!


Your imagination and your creativity are very important in the way you interpret roles. Once again, observation can help. Can you develop a backstory for the people you see around you? Let your creativity off the leash and don’t be afraid to make those stories dramatic. 

Try your hand at writing, or enjoy a foray into the visual arts.  Read books and add your own imaginative twists to the storyline. Try reading aloud and actually “becoming” the characters in the scene. Consciously work on your creativity by stimulating your imagination and giving it free rein. 

Memorisation Work 

It’s difficult to interpret a role with any confidence if you’re struggling to remember your lines. Your memory also comes into play when you consider what has led up to the scene you’re acting in and what comes next.  Apart from reading, re-reading and rehearsing your script, you’ll use cues to prompt your memory and you can also use association. For example, an emotional context, a movement, or even a prop, can help to activate your memory. As with all skills, practice helps you form the right habits.  Participate in as many productions as you can!

Physical Performance

Sometimes, your body language is the only way you express yourself. At others, it adds weight to your words. Be mindful of your own body and how it reinforces the things you say in real life as well as how it communicates your moods and emotions. And once again, watch other people closely. A good actor is a student of human behaviour. Start reading physical cues as easily as you read words. To a certain extent, you already do this instinctively. Add a conscious element to your observations. 

Theoretical Knowledge

Many of us need a bit of pushing to expand our theoretical knowledge, and studying acting will do just that. But you can sharpen your theoretical skills and consider how these would work in practice by reading the most respected works on this topic. Looking for somewhere to get started? 

You can’t go wrong if you start with Stanislavski. An Actor Prepares is a must-read for any aspiring actor.  Michael Shurtleff’s Audition is just what the name says it is. And since every role begins with auditions, getting through them with flying colours will be among your aims. Uta Hagen’s Respect for Acting is bound to resonate with you too – it covers many of the problems and questions that actors encounter in their work. Develop your theoretical knowledge and then put it to work for you. 

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

If every actor tried to steal the limelight, you’d end up with chaos on stage. In any production, the way the cast works together to tell the story is more important than any single contribution. Even if you’re the leading man or lady, your acting style will be modified by the need to interact realistically with other members of the cast. 

Taking up a team sport or working in a team in the world of commerce can reinforce this in your mind, but the best place to practise teamwork as an actor is to act! When you don’t have professional productions on the go, keep your skills sharp by attending acting courses and participating in amateur productions. Don’t be fooled by the name! Some of the productions staged by drama clubs are very well done – even though there’s no financial reward in store. 

Shine With Supplementary Acting Skills

There are many more ways to develop your depth and scope as an actor. Take dancing or singing classes, learn a foreign language, try your hand at martial arts or gymnastics, learn how to ride a horse, take a day job and represent a company – the options are almost endless. As an actor, you are a student of life. Live yours to the full. Gain exposure to the widest range of experiences possible. Your acting skills will develop as you go. 

Learning Acting Skills Means Learning About Life

Acting means living, it’s all I do.”  Morgan Freeman said it all with this statement, but we’d like to add that it means living mindfully, analytically, and with sensitivity to everything that occurs around you.  Yes, acting schools and acting courses will certainly help you to develop this sense of mindfulness, but if you want to know how to improve your acting skills, don’t forget that life is the best teacher of all. 

Want to Get Some Acting Practice Every Day And Earn Money?

As we’ve already noted – everything you do can become an acting lesson. But at RSVP, we have an opportunity for actors and drama students that shouldn’t be missed. Imagine a commercial business staffed by actors and managed by actors. Instead of being regarded as someone with unrealistic ambitions who has to be humoured, we understand the journey you’re on. We value your acting skills and knowledge of human nature because communication is what we do – as an actor, it’s what you’re best at. 

We represent multiple brands, so you can try your hand at personas that match them, deal with real people, and strive to satisfy your “audience” while delivering real value. Best of all, when your schedule includes everything from classes to auditions and rehearsals, we’re not only flexible – we’re also there to cheer you on. 

Whether you’re an up-and-coming actor or are just between roles, practising your skills, being appreciated for them, and working as part of our team will help you with developing and learning the acting skills that every actor needs. Visit the RSVP Careers page to find out more. We’re looking forward to having you on board!


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