By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Acting?

Acting is the action of taking on the role of a character or someone else’s behaviour. It can be done in a scripted or improvised way but simply put acting is a performance of pretending to be someone else. The goal of a good actor is to portray their character as authentically as possible and give a believable performance and may even change their natural voice or mannerism to better suit the part.

Actors may be professional or not, they may work in movies, television, theatre, or radio shows. Actors are also known as ‘thespians’ because of the first known Greek actor ‘Thespis’.

What courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Acting courses in the following subject areas:

  • Acting for Camera – Gain knowledge and skills in confidence, presentation, camera angles, eye lines, and framing.
  • Advanced acting for the camera – The study of film acting and techniques for different formats of acting.
  • Advanced Acting Training – The study of theatre performances in improvisation, devising, contemporary realism, and Shakespeare.
  • Advanced Actor Training – The study of musical theatre and actor training to reach professional performing standards.
  • Theatre Performance – Training in core performance skills and an ensemble approach to theatre.
  • Drama: Advanced Acting – Gain the knowledge and skills to enter the entertainment industry with confidence.

Studying Acting in college

Courses in Acting will cover theory work in lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Most Acting courses are taught through practical workshops supported by discussion and reflection; these workshops are run by regular staff and visitors who are often leading international figures on stage and screen.

Students are expected to work independently on their own and in group projects to gain self-confidence in their learning and development. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve the qualification.

Students will also be prepared for auditions and may have many performance opportunities arising that can culminate in a large-scale public performance. It is also very common for some courses to have a work experience element in a suitable environment which may end in a fully rehearsed public performance at the end of the course.

Generally speaking, Acting students are expected to maintain a healthy lifestyle to cope with the physical demands and stamina required by the training.

Career options

After completing a course in Acting you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of acting in theatre, television, and film.

As an Actor, you will likely work long hours in rehearsals and attend many auditions. You will also need to have the flexibility to be able to attend an audition at the last minute at any time of the day and on any day of the week.

Acting is a career where it is imperative that you are comfortable performing in front of others and have the concentration and focus to stay in character without any distractions. Actors improve their reputation by completing different roles successfully. Moving up to more challenging and better-paid jobs comes from acting well and being well received by critics.

One good performance can be crucial in boosting an actor’s profile and finding work consistently will depend on evidence of a professional attitude and a good track record, although actors with different styles and personalities may go in and out of fashion, depending on what directors and producers are looking for. Many actors spend years playing minor roles or working as extras before landing a major part, and the career path varies greatly depending on the individual.

Related jobs include:

  • Actor
  • Director
  • Producer
  • Playwright
  • Stage Manager
  • Set Designer
  • Theatre Lighting Designer
  • Sound Designer
  • Lighting Technician
  • Sound Technician
  • Stage Crew Member
  • Choreographer
  • Front of House Theatre Staff

Further study

After completing a course in Acting you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as Theatre Marketing or Drama therapy.


Are there any particular qualities you need to study Acting?

To be an actor you will need a wide range of skills and the ability to adapt. You should have a good stage and vocal presence and the ability to engage with an audience and keep them engaged.

You should have a good memory and be able to memorize lines and a good understanding of dramatic techniques. Acting is a high-energy career and takes a lot of hard work, thick skin, dedication, and confidence.

Are there different types of acting?

Classical Acting is the most common technique in acting and uses dramatic gestures, enunciated speech, and exaggerated actions. This is most often used in plays or live performances to reach everyone in the audience.

Modern Acting aims to portray a character’s emotions authentically and is the most common type of acting in modern TV shows or movies. Actors want the story to feel as realistic as possible and may draw on their own life experiences to bring out these emotions. Modern acting is more subtle than Classical Acting to make the characters seem more sincere.

Method Acting involves actors using their imaginations to connect with the role they are playing. They want the emotions to feel realistic and will “become” their characters for long periods so that they can “get inside the character’s head”.

The Chekhov technique is a branch of method acting where actors will learn what it is like to live their character’s life and will spend time with people who work in the same industry as their characters or have had similar experiences so that they can mimic the “real” counterparts.

The Meisner Technique is all about repetition and an actor will repeat and practice their performance continues to develop unconscious instincts or gestures. This brings another level of authenticity to the performance.

Do I need to hire an agent to get into acting?

It’s not a necessity for actors to hire an agent, but for many, using an agent is part of the process. An agent’s goal is to market you. They may do this by sending your resume to production companies, finding and scheduling auditions, and even negotiating contracts. For new actors, experienced agents can help identify what training you should pursue. They can also recommend which roles are the right fit for your current skill set.

Where can I study Acting?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

· Bill Murray doesn’t have an agent. You can leave him a voicemail message, hoping that he’ll like the project and will get back to you.

· Reagan once auditioned for the part of a president in a play called “The Best Man” in 1960 but the producers thought he didn’t look presidential enough for the part. He later became the 40th President of the United States of America.

· 2010 was the first year since 1974 that Christopher Walken didn’t appear in a movie.

Mariza Halliday

Drama and Theatre Studies


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