I recently had a conversation with a parent of a young artist. Normally, she’s one of the greatest women I know, but on occasion I feel she can’t see the forest for the trees. She is the mother of a very gifted student – her daughter is smart, friendly, creative – much like her mother. The complaint here was that her daughter was not being challenged and was bored in her arts class. Her argument was that her daughter had plenty of experience in this field and that she should be allowed to jump to a more advanced class.
The problem I see with this is two-fold. 1) If we allow young artists to skip to a more advanced level simply by right of having taken classes in the subject before, we are not able to assess whether or not their training up to this point has been adequate. The mind of an 8th grader is different from the mind of an 11th grader which is different than the mind of a 25 year old. By allowing them to jump forward just because they have had “some classes”, we are not allowing them the pleasure of education and discovery that comes with eventual intellectual maturity. A young student will not see their art the same as an older student. 2) Students who are “bored” with the basics don’t know what they don’t know. Allowing them to skip the basics because they think they know it all, tells them the basics aren’t important and it leads them to believe there is nothing to learn. A little humility and hard work can be a great thing for the developing artist.
I encourage ALL actors, regardless of age, to revisit the basics from time to time. Remember what it was like when things clicked the first time. Remember the techniques you forgot. There is nothing wrong with taking your time and soaking in the foundations of your acting for a while. It’s a great way to reinforce and reinvigorate your creative edge.