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Student Diary: My Experience with Acting – Eden Avital Alexander

Eden Avital AlexanderWhen did you start acting?

I started my performing life when I was 5 years old; I truly doubt if anyone who will read this is younger than 15, so not sure if my experience of getting into the business is even relevant. To add to the fact that it was in a different country in a different era; a time when you used to get your text for an audition on fax. So many times you got from the production your text smudged and it was sometimes awkward to call and ask, especially if you’re 12 years old and embarrassed, not realising that the smudge is not your fault. Also, you don’t want them to remember you as “the problematic one” – sounds familiar at any age, right? But since then I learned you SHOULD ask, in order to give your best and closest to what they (by “they” I mean casting directors and directors or anyone in the casting room. Well… When there was still an actual casting room) want. Many times I guessed or waited for the audition day to ask once I arrived – that’s how I roll – living on the edge.

What are some techniques you do when you memorise lines?

In the middle of me writing my dilemma about what to write, I stopped to check my grammar (English is my second language after all…) I wonder if when you are reading my blog; you now read it with an accent. If yes, which accent? I allow you to, I also work with stand-up comedy, so I promise you I won’t be offended. Actually when I memorise lines, I sometimes play with different accents and different scenarios that are not related to the scene at all; it makes it more of fun, like a game. You will also be surprised how many new things you can find out about the text if you play it completely different and out of text, like a lawyer in a court room, when it’s actually a love scene or vice versa, only to notice I already filled half a page and I am not sure if I even touched subjects that grabbed you to continue reading or interest in you in any way – awkward – but if you are still reading this, then I guess I am doing fine. I am free writing, so the subject of this blog will reveal itself at some point, I hope. It’s definitely about acting though.

When did you know that you wanted to be an actor?

Going back to what I was saying (in this situation – writing). My guess is some of you who read I started performing at the age of 5, assume my parents dragged me into it – cannot be so far from the truth. I grew up with parents in the medical world; I played with bandages on my dolls and giving them CPR (yes… at 5-years-old.) Syringes in the bath instead of rubber duckies, had a proper realistic human body pop up books etc. But I loved dancing, so started with rhythmic gymnastics and had my first big performance at the age of 6-7 in a football stadium during half time. Not sure how many in the audience (AKA football fans) who came to watch the game were interested in our performance and perhaps quite inappropriate if they were, but we really enjoyed these performances.

Later on at the age of 8, acting found me, when a friend’s mum succeeded to convince a director named Dvora Miller, to open an acting group for us, she was hesitant, but eventually it happened; it was me and a group of 5 of my best friends – learning acting in her living room – we were not enough to rent a place and that was her way to keep the price cheap for us. With the years, I got more and more serious into acting and with my parents working very long hours; her house, became my second home. Dvora was a proper thespian and directed us in a very traditional old school style; we had to come all dressed in black, no logos of any kind (so you can easily fit to any character you might take on during the class.) If you were late you were not allowed in. Furniture and items will not be dragged unless in some way it was necessary, specifically for a scene (so you will get used to the silence needed backstage.) No talking when someone else is performing, the proper manner of giving useful feedback to each other after a scene (always start with something good and then a suggestion of what can be improved or when you noticed someone didn’t follow their instincts during and know that you might be called on to try what you offered). If a group of kids would get a director like that today, you will probably get parents complaining about their kids being abused, and actually because it was strict. After 2 years maximum, one by one, all my original group of friends left, but I stayed only to realise years later I won’t be able to leave – acting became a part of who I was – I am officially a thespian.

The group grew bigger and we needed to go study in an actual studio. It wasn’t the type of lessons where you have an end of the year performance to show the parents how talented their kids are. Nothing is wrong with these types of courses of course (unless you are learning THEATRE and your teacher say “Lights…Camera… Action” before a scene, then you should definitely doubt the experience and qualifications of what is being taught and by whom.) Dvora actually encouraged any parent that was looking specifically for that, to take their kid to a different teacher in my city – not in a bad way – she just knew they wouldn’t suit her way – they wouldn’t be able to feel free and playful as needed in theatre. She only directed shows with the adult group and with the students she thought were good to perform in front of an audience and fitted the type cast of one of the characters in the show she wanted to put on. I felt so proud doing proper professional theatre at my age; yes, there was playing involved, but there were rules. Professional theatre rules – ACTING FOUND ME.

When was the first time you played a professional role?

With the time I also grew older and joined the older group, while coming to help with the younger group. At 11 years old I started functioning as backstage crew to the plays she directed, all were in professional theatre halls and at 12 I got to perform my official full play. A play called “My mother said I never should” by Charlotte Keatley. I will never forget that performance, but for a different reason then what you think – we had our tech run on the day of the opening and on my way there, I discovered I got my first period and as if having my official first play performance wasn’t exciting enough. I officially became a woman on that day. If any of you ever read that play, you can see the irony of the situation.

When did you know that you wanted to act?

I say ACTING FOUND ME, because acting is not something that you try and can actually leave. Anyone who’s ever done acting knows – its either you fall in love with it or you don’t. If it feels like “yeah it’s nice…” then it didn’t catch you. Not sure who is luckier in this circumstance, those who get the bug or those who don’t (sorry if it’s not the right year to talk about getting bugs). Acting is not an easy profession, it involves a lot of cognitive, emotional and physical involvement (which if I will be asked to write another blog; I will probably get more into that.)

What are your goals as an actor?

Mainly there are no specific rules to a path and duration until you become a successful actor and even then, it can be even harder work to maintain that success, which brings up the bigger question of what is success in the acting profession? Is it getting a main role in a big production or is it actually constantly working and always having a part in a production, any production, whether big or small, as long you are acting? Well, I am not sure I have the right answer for you, I do know what the right answer is for me; I am currently on the search for a new agent and needed to review again what my goals are. For my business (being a performer you should look at your acting as a business; again more on this perhaps in future blog.) Since I am looking to bring someone to run my business with me (AKA agent). In the past I went with any agent, just to have an agent and was wondering, why I didn’t get from them the audition for the parts I really wanted (if you look at my spotlight at any point, all of my shows I found for myself, not through any of my former agents, but I work really hard with self-representing; again a subject perhaps for future blog.) So this time I focused on the correct answer for my acting profession road and at the moment I rejected 3 offers from agencies, which both sides agreed were not a good match for my current career and goals. I already gave up working in another profession I might be good at and would be “easier” and more constantly profitable, for my love of acting. I didn’t compromise on doing what I deeply love, so why shouldn’t I insist on doing it the way I want to?!

What advice would you give other actors?

If you haven’t yet… Ask yourself; what are YOUR goals for YOUR acting career? Don’t think what you are expected to want, but what you actually enjoy doing in the acting world.

 

Edited by Katie Moseley

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