The Actor’s Lessons of Destruction or How NOT to work as an Actor.

Wooden Men
Photo Credit: Garry Knight via cc
The Actor’s Lessons of Destruction
A quick guide to how NOT to succeed as an actor in quick and easy to manage steps!
  • Compromise your principles early and get it over with.
  • Wear lots of “comedy and tragedy” accessories.
  • Memorise all of the songs from “Cats.”
  • Take your art WAY too seriously.
  • Misquote famous lines from Shakespeare.
  • If a director doesn’t invite you to a recall, assume it’s a mistake and go anyway.
  • If a director doesn’t cast you, assume it’s a mistake and attend the first rehearsal.
  • When you get to a recall, ask the director “Will this take long?”
  • No matter how many schedule conflicts you have, reply “none.” Hey, it can all be worked out in the end.
  • Over-emphasise the lines they laugh at.
  • Sigh, loudly, when things aren’t going the way you think they should.
  • Mistreat props. Lose them. Take them home with you.
  • Repeatedly ask techies, “Will this be ready by the opening?”
  • Assume the stage manager and assistant director are there to clean up after you.
  • Stay up late power drinking before early morning calls.
  • Pause for so long in the middle of your longer speeches that no one can tell if you are finished or have just forgotten your lines.
  • Remember, although you can always be replaced, they won’t replace you until you’ve done a LOT of damage.
  • When your character isn’t talking, mug.
  • During breaks, recite other actors’ lines the way they OUGHT to be said.
  • Why be onstage when you can upstage?
  • For a touch of realism, upstage yourself.
  • Give fellow actors advice on how to do their characters.
  • Offer continued constructive suggestions to the director on how to improve the show.
  • If you can’t get a grasp of your character, just do Jack Nicholson.
  • Blocking is for amateurs.
  • Eye contact is for actors afraid to stand on their own.
  • Understudy the lead roles, even if you aren’t asked to do so. In front of the lead, ask the director to stay late to see how you’re doing with their role.
  • It’s not the quality of the role, it’s what you get to wear.
  • Wear all black and hang out in coffee houses.
  • Change your blocking on opening night.
  • Remember: frontal nudity gets you noticed faster.
  • Use your tongue to make stage kisses look “real.”
  • Break a leg. Literally.
We are delighted to republish Prof. John Palmer’s ‘Theatre Briefs’ series, Actor Hub hope you find them as useful as we have.
This series of short essays about acting is reprinted with the kind permission of Professor John P Palmer of London, Ontario, Canada. He wrote these ‘Theatre Briefs’ for use by students and fellow actors during classes and rehearsals. Where he has relied on material from others, they are cited.
These essays may be reproduced at no charge for non-commercial purposes. Just please acknowledge the original source (John Palmer) and his blog Eclectecon.
Also please retain the attributions included in the briefs.
You may not use these resources for commercial purposes.