If you want to work as an actor, or even take up acting as a hobby, that’s great news!

Although a lot of work can often go into becoming an actor and honing your craft, acting can be a very rewarding and enjoyable pursuit, not least because the nature of the play, production or show can change, but also because the types of characters that you play can be hugely varied as well.

However, as with any craft, there are a lot of different techniques that can be employed when learning to act. From improvisation (or "improv") to method acting, it can seem overwhelming at first to know which techniques can really help you improve your skills as an actor and what acting methods most appeal to you.

This article considers sight reading in particular and looks at why it’s such an important skill for actors to have.

You might rehearse on stage as part of an acting class.
If you'd like to land more roles within the theatre, you may find it beneficial to attend an acting class that helps you develop your sight reading skills. (Image Source: CC0 1.0, geralt, Pixabay)

Why Is A Sight Reading Acting Class So Important?

Sight reading has a significant place within the realm of acting and performance more generally. This means that, if you have ambitions of becoming an actor, whether as a full-time or occasional job, then sight reading is a skill you should be aware of and comfortable with.

In essence, sight reading is the art of reading from a script or other form of written text aloud, without having seen the text previously. Occasionally, you may have spent some time with the script before reading it aloud, but generally, the time spent with any script for a sight reading is not significant. Sight reading is also known as cold reading for this reason.

Sight readings can be held in a number of different forums, for example:

  • At castings and auditions for films or TV shows;
  • As part of an acting class or workshop; or
  • When a cast is running through the script for a performance, TV show episode, or film.

Due to the versatile nature of when sight readings are used, and due to the frequency with which they are used, it’s vitally important that anyone looking to improve their acting is comfortable carrying out a sight reading.

Why Are Sight Readings So Popular?

There are lots of different reasons why sight readings are popular. For example, one reason why a casting director may prefer actors to go through a sight reading during an audition is to get a feeling of the overall ability of that actor and to see how easily and fluidly that actor can adapt to a new environment or character prompts.

Other times, such as during a cast read-through, a sight reading might be helpful for the playwright or scriptwriter, so that they can hear how others interpret their work and how the piece flows and sounds overall. After all, there can be quite a difference between how something is written down and how it is spoken aloud!

Drama lessons can be a good way to boost your confidence when speaking in public.
An acting class or workshop that focuses on sight reading can be very useful if you're planning on auditioning for a number of roles. (Image Source: CC0 1.0, athree23, Pixabay)

Is It Easy To Find Adult Acting Classes For Sight Reading?

If you’re looking to work on your sight reading abilities, or are a complete beginner when it comes to acting and would like to learn more about what sight reading is, then you might want to consider attending an acting class that includes work on sight readings or cold readings.

There are lots of different acting courses out there, from courses that work on your audition technique to classes devoted to acting techniques and classes that concentrate on scene study. In addition, there are also classes that focus on sight readings, which are also known as cold readings.

Some acting classes may concentrate just on sight readings, and encourage practice individually, in groups, or with partners, while other classes may cover other aspects of acting and acting techniques, including sight reading as just part of the overall class content.

The content of the course may well depend on that particular acting school, as well as the preferences of the acting coach or instructor.

For example, improvisation acting lessons are often combined with sight reading classes, as good improvisation and sight-reading skills can often go hand in hand during auditions.

This is because being talented in both areas can help an actor bring a script to life and can allow an actor to quickly develop a complex or interesting character that keeps the audience or casting director engaged.

Sight reading and acting classes are available across the UK, whether you:

  • Live in the middle of London and want to start your acting career;
  • Are staying in Manchester and want to hone your improvisation skills with an intensive course;
  • Are travelling across the UK and would like to improve your chances of success when it comes to attending auditions and securing callbacks.

When looking for a potential sight reading course to attend, try to find out whether there's any chance that your sight reading will be filmed, or captured on camera in some way. Although it's not essential to have a sight reading class recorded, seeing how you come across on camera can be helpful in highlighting which areas you can improve in as a performer.

If you're in doubt as to whether a sight reading class would be filmed, or you'd like to know more about a potential course more generally, remember you can also try to reach out to any prospective acting schools or acting coaches and ask them for further clarification on the course content.

While sight reading classes can be undoubtedly helpful for new, experienced, established and young actors, it’s also worth noting that sight reading classes can also be useful for those that aren’t involved in acting.

For instance, anyone involved in public speaking or anyone who addresses a large group of people on a fairly regular basis may also benefit from sight reading classes.

This is because having some knowledge of sight or cold reading techniques can help individuals make their speeches stand out through by delivering a speech that has better overall fluidity, mood, and emphasis on the core aspects of the speech.

You might work through a screenplay as part of an acting class.
Acting workshops and sight reading acting courses can be helpful for a wide number of actors, including teens, young actors, and more established actors. (Image Source: CC0 1.0, olilynch, Pixabay)

Tips For Auditions

The goal for many actors, both established and aspiring, is to land new acting jobs. Whether your preference is to work in the theatre, in small TV and film roles, or you’re looking to land your big break in a major production, the chances are that you’ll have to go through an audition process of some description in order to secure your new role and showcase your talent.

As mentioned above, sight reading often forms a core part of the audition process, so it’s best that you’re as comfortable as possible with this style of audition before you walk into the real thing.

Aside from taking acting classes or acting workshops, there are a few other things that you can do on the day of your audition to help ease your nerves, such as:

  • Try to turn up early for the audition – if the script is only available on the day of the audition, this gives you more time to get familiar with the script, and also gives you the chance to get more comfortable with the venue and the audition process;
  • Practice – whether you’re reading a monologue or working with a partner, try to find a quiet place where you can run through the script and practice your lines before your audition time comes around. This should help ease your nerves, and give you more confidence when walking into the audition room;
  • Listen – as much as the audition process is about showing the casting director and his team your talent as an actor, good listening skills are just as important in the audition process. By listening you can respond to any impromptu requests during the audition process, and also act on any feedback you might receive at the time from the casting director.

If you have an audition coming up, but you’re still feeling a little unsure of how your performance will be on the day, remember that there are ways to reach out for some help. For example, you could choose to hire an acting tutor from a tutoring website such as Superprof.

An acting tutor can help provide tailored and supportive lessons designed to improve your confidence in your acting abilities when going to auditions, and can also give you lessons and tips designed to teach you more about different acting techniques and hopefully improve your overall acting ability.

With online, one to one, group and workshop-style lessons available, why not see if there’s an acting tutor near to you today?

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