Rules for Acting

Compiled by Bethany Kanfer
Said mostly by Robert Cordier

  1. Don't act, react.
  2. Don't be afraid of volume.
  3. Don't give away your cookies too soon.
  4. Don't confine yourself.
  5. Make everything matter more.
  6. Build it up.
  7. Use your action.
  8. Focus your energy.
  9. Use shock sparingly.
  10. Self-pity is not interesting.
  11. Go for the big emotions.
  12. Learn the text flat. Make a paraphrase. Put your emotion into the text.
  13. Drama is not about day-to-day moments.
  14. Emote.
  15. It's better to be overflowing with feelings.
  16. Feel in the present.
  17. When you do any kind of work, don't ever do it in the past. Even if it's written in the past, do it as if it were happening now.
  18. Don't start with the text.
  19. There is not one good play where you don't get angry at some point.
  20. Once you liberate anger, you can do it inside, outside....
  21. Don't psychologize. Physiologize.
  22. Acting is simple, once you get it.
  23. We want to go for the big things.
  24. Advanced work is better to start early.
  25. It's better to start with difficult plays.
  26. It's better to attack difficult things than to do silly little things.
  27. The first big mistake one can make is to try to act right away.
  28. You can do a lot by not moving too much at first.
  29. Patience is the main quality of an actor.
  30. You can open up any sort of ways. It's not the words, it's the meaning.
  31. Always make sure you can read the script.
  32. A good play can be done many ways, as long as you justify what you do.
  33. Go deep, deep. You don't have to act all of it, but as long as it's there, it's rich.
  34. It's difficult to die.
  35. Never play with props without practicing.
  36. Never play just one thing.
  37. Make the stress where it counts.
  38. Don't hit yourself.
  39. Don't come in like an old shoe, came in like an actress.
  40. You can't do everything at once.
  41. It's never good to go too much downstage.
  42. If you negate the context, it's like you're suspended in outer space.
  43. Everything you do now is very important.
  44. Don't run on stage.
  45. We are not pretending.
  46. A dry run is never a dry run.
  47. Sneaking out is no good.
  48. You cannot be tentative onstage.
  49. If you're going to be onstage, do your best, otherwise, stay in the house.
  50. Play for the ones who'll tell you you're great.
  51. Don't disconnect when you're offstage.
  52. If you're not going anywhere, stay where you are.
  53. Think that you're thinking.
  54. Don't throw your script on the floor.
  55. Are we in church or are we in the theatre?
  56. Radiate.
  57. Focus.
  58. Don't act the words.
  59. Be there.
  60. Don't stand like a pimple.

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