Do Actors Need to Train?

Oct 30, 2020

When a question is posed so bluntly, it seems clear that the answer is: Yes, actors do need to be trained. Yet, as many working actors have entered the industry with little or no training at all, the common perception is that training is not necessary.

Uta Hagen Respect for Acting

I have been reading Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen recently, and among other assertions, she emphasises that actors, just like musicians and dancers, require constant training and practice to hone their instrument through voice, speech and body work. I am inclined to agree.

Talent – natural aptitude and skill – is a great starting block.  But even if you are brimming with talent, I would argue that you would need to train to develop techniques and tools to further enhance your performances.

Training has been essential in my career. My early teachers gave me the confidence to perform, and allowed me the space to explore my capabilities, and test out the extent to which I could stretch myself as an actor. Jeanne Hartman, an acting coach with whom I studied occasionally with in Hong Kong, taught me how to coach myself, and challenged me to “Live Dangerously“. Periodic training at HCAC (Singapore) has allowed me to keep my tools sharp, and taught me to trust the connection between my mind, my instincts, and my body.

Talent alone is not enough. Character and ethics, a point of view about the world in which you live and an education, can and must be acquired and developed.

– Uta Hagen, “Respect for Acting”

My hope is for stronger professional acting programmes to be developed in Singapore, and for working actors to be committed to training & practising the craft. As our standards advance, and as the value of our craft increases, the act of acting will also, hopefully, be more respected in our society.