Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Accept your awards graciously

It's never too early in your career to learn how to accept an award. One day it may happen to you and you want to be prepared. It's a simple enough process but there are a lot of ways in which you can get it wrong, so here's some advice on how to accept your awards graciously.

We live in the age of celebrity and award presentations are the quasi religious ceremonies of the age. They need to be handled with respect, but without excessive awe for the occasion. We have all seen music business awards where the winners slouch onto the stage and grunt like inarticulate teenagers, as if to show they're not suits, man, but rebel hearts, although they are in fact multi millionaires in their forties. Not good.

Generally speaking the best acceptance speeches are given by makeup and costume designers, special effects people, producers and, usually, directors. They will be short, sincere and to the point. Unfortunately the actors, who are the most used to appearing before an audience, often deliver the worst speeches of all, so here are some points to remember.

Don't start crying, it's embarrassing and unnecessary. Don't fail to have a speech prepared, it's disrespectful. Don't pretend not to have a speech prepared, you were nominated weren't you? It looks dumb. Don't attempt to make political or social comments, you will appear empty headed. For example it's not a good idea to raise the issue of global warming in front of an audience many of whom will have just crossed the Atlantic by private jet. Don't embark on a dissertation on the philosophy of the stage, or a memoir starting with the lives of your grandparents: people will think you are losing your marbles and won't ever employ you again.

It's a bad mistake to thank too many people for helping you: the more people you thank the more people will be aggrieved because you've left them out. A maximum of three is advisable, after which you give a general and heartfelt thank you to all the many other people without whom you would never have been honoured. Everyone will be satisfied by that. Don't thank God under any circumstances: implying that you are more favoured by the almighty than the other nominees is hubristic and may come back to bite you in later life. Keep it short, otherwise it looks as if you are trying to hog the screen time (which you will be.) Don't tell jokes, they usually fall flat. If members of the royal family are present make no reference to that fact, you will either look obsequious or cheeky if you do.

On these occasions there are only two possible outcomes. You have either won or you have lost. Prepare for both eventualities. The evening always goes on much too long, so be prepared for that too. Don't eat too much and consume a maximum of one drink and no other intoxicating substances. If there's a red carpet work the crowd and autograph anything that's put in front of you (bring your own pen.) If interviewed it's perfectly acceptable, indeed obligatory, to state that you think you have no chance of winning, whatever the true situation may be. Enjoy yourself.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Voice; body; mind.

Words of Wisdom

Work on your voice - every day
Work on your body - every day
Work on your mind - every day

If you are serious about being an actor, that is what you have to do, so you have to make these things part of your regular, daily timetable.

Working on your voice includes deep breathing exercises, exercises to open your throat, so that your voice isn't trapped there, exercises exploring your full range of pitch, practising projection and sharpening your articulation and diction. It's important to do this regularly, not just occasionally.

Working on your body includes stretching, core body exercises, cardiovascular work, such as running, aerobics or swimming - that is absolutely central to your fitness - strength training using weights and something involving agility, such as dance or martial arts. Make progress by gradual increments: that way you improve but are less likely to suffer injury.

Working on your mind includes plenty of reading, fact, fiction, biography, history, doing a mindstretching puzzle, meditating, writing a diary or setting down some other thoughts. planning for the future. Focus on one thing at a time, analyse it and then integrate it into the whole.

I am a great believer that education should not end at the end of school or college: make self improvement a lifelong aim. Develop your capabilities and maintain them.

Work on your voice - every day
Work on your body - every day
Work on your mind - every day