'Hits' and 'pits' - what is OFF the menu
ADVICE TO ACTING TEACHERS - 'ACTING 101' - an introductory course in acting for 18-22 year-olds
I have never understood why student actors should be trained in 'cross-gender' acting. My rule is: No performing as a man (if you are a woman) and vice versa. No 'cross-gender' acting. I have given some of my reasons in 'NATURAL CASTING'.
This is an absolute rule for me. CROSS-GENDER ACTING has a later place in actor training, in the third year of conservatoire training (professional training for 18 to 22 year olds). This is when other techniques have been learnt, as also of observation and research. CROSS-GENDER ACTING should only serve a limited group of texts (Shakespeare, theatre for schools, some anti-sexism texts, and some few plays of the 1970s & 1980s - 'Cloud 9' for example.)
CROSS-GENDER ACTING has no place in the training of apprentice actors. It does the opposite - it 'de-skills' them. It traps them in pointless routines and the unachievable ('acting' a 'man' - usually). It can be enforced sexism, if young women students have the task of 'acting' male roles. Other solutions should be found for groups with a majority of girl students or 100 per cent girl students. (I offer some script excerpts on this site.)
Also, CROSS-GENERATIONAL ACTING has no place in the training of apprentice actors. My rule is: No performing older characters (no mothers, grandmothers etc.). The reasons are similar.
I ban plays such as 'My Mother Said I Never Should', 'Top Girls' and 'My Country's Good'. I ban any plays that students have previously worked on (typically in school and college.) 'ACTING 101' is not a literary exercise. It is not a literature course. It is not a citizenship course or a course in civics. It does not describe what life is in order to explain ACTING or THEATRE. Those seem puzzling endeavours at this level (18 to 22 yr olds).
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