On Acting & Teaching

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My teaching philosophy

I have always been interested in the processes behind what we make.  Like any artist worth their salt, innovation is my goal, but practicality matters too!

As a result, after years of research, I’ve developed a new approach to acting that I hope has a positive impact on your creativity and career.

Acting is a tricky business

It's easy for an actor to feel vulnerable and triggered if the work attacks them. Because so many acting methods emphasise text and story analysis, we often have to learn acting by playing characters in biased narratives. This was certainly my own experience being an emerging LGBTQ+ performer in the 80s and 90s. Moulding your performance around texts that are limiting or even false will only produce conflict between your emotional freedom, and what people call "truth" in performance.

Some techniques are built on a version of "The Method" which has benefits and limitations*. The most prominent limitation is that it assumes people (therefore characters) are victims of their stifled psyches. I find this troubling because to succeed in the Method, you're often forced to see yourself as if you're in need of repair--and art is here to help you explore and "use" the pain of existence. This simply isn't what I would call a creative stimulus. Balance and contentment are basic human needs. Your art should help you to maintain/sustain them.

*For a robust take on the pros and cons of the Method, check out Broey Deschanel's video essay on YouTube, titled The Problem of Method Acting.

There are many ways to inspire creativity

I've found mine. The Crosspoints are about finding creative flow. What is "flow?" It's that feeling that comes when you're focused, efficient and can concentrate for long periods of time with great ease.

Another thing about this work is that it stems from a central tenet of Stanislavski's. It involves trusting the actor's imagination first; not just the text or a list of adverbs from a thesaurus. Applying your imagination to the world created by the writer is actually the second step. I think of it as learning how to mix paint and use your brush before painting on the canvas. Any artist develops a personal relationship to their resources before jumping into "making something." Actors should too.

The ever-evolving Creative Industries...

have produced new ways of working and collaborating across disciplines and across cultures. These require an actor to develop an increasingly portfolio-based career. Writing, self-led-self-produced work, interdisciplinary and socially engaged practices are valued much more than they have been in the past.

Crosspoints create frameworks for creativity. They're a 'meta-tool,' enabling you to create your own processes whether your acting in a commercial, performing a representational drama, singing a song or doing voiceover for animation.

When it comes to Diversity, Inclusion & Equality...

we have to face one thing. Acting classes (and the profession writ large) are complicit in cultural biases and power imbalances. Taking this into account, drama schools, university programmes and private studios have all been sites for institutionalised white dominance, white fragility and racism.

We've done this. We need to stop and listen.

My own journey from marginalisation to acceptance has had a big impact on my acting and teaching. My race, gender and generation are a mixed bag of privileges and obstacles. Because of this, I look forward to being part of the change. I anticipate a world where everyone listens and sees each other with great pride.

Black lives matter. The lives of People of Colour matter. Indigenous lives matter. LGBTQ2IAS+ lives matter.

Our future together matters.

Stephen Atkins Crosspoints Acting System(acting teacher, actor, director)
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