Classes are ranked in the matter of importance with #1 being the most important.
1. Scene Study and Technique Classes
These are the most common classes that every actor takes, or at least must take.
In scene study, the group and their teacher explore all kinds of scenes for plays, television and film. Normally, teacher gives you the material, people working on it read the material, block it out, rehearse it, act it out and then present as a finished product.
This type of on-going class can be labeled as actor’s foundation in the world of acting schools. It’s being taught in MANY different ways by many different teachers. Each acting teacher has their own approach to how an actor can become better at this craft. You always have to choose which method you connect with the most.
Moreover, scene study classes are usually based on some kind of acting technique. It could be Method Acting, Meisner Technique or anything else. Based on the theory of that particular technique, actor is taught how to truthfully act out a scene for a play, film or television.
2. Auditioning Classes
Just as the name suggests, these classes focus on the art of auditioning (which is different from the art of performing). It’s always a great idea to include a course of these classes in your training, because auditioning is not easy by any means and can sometimes be even more difficult than the performance itself.
Auditioning classes teach actors how to break down a script (script analysis), what to do during an audition and how to get approval from the whole casting panel.
3. On-camera (Screen) Classes
Just like the two types of acting classes above, this one is also often recommended for most aspiring actors. Even if you’ve trained in drama school, chances are you didn’t have enough professional on-camera training with real filmmakers. Here is where you fix this.
Actors in this class will learn how to control their vocal levels, how to know where to stand and where to go, and all other on-camera acting technicalities of which there are millions. Trust me, 9 times out of 10, new actor will need to take this class, and a director on a professional film set will thank you for taking it.
4. Cold (Sight) Reading Classes
Known as sight reading in the UK, and cold reading in the US, these types of classes teach actors another part of audition process: how to quickly prepare the text and do it right. This class is particularly useful for actors going out on a lot of commercials, as those types of auditions usually give you the script only 15 minutes in advance.
Cold reading class will teach you how to get to the main part of the scene, what are the right questions to ask, how to understand your character, your obstacles, etc. You will learn to accomplish all these basic things very fast so that you have more time to think about your actual performance rather than figuring out what the text is about.
5. Improvisation Classes
Again, just like it says, these classes will teach you the skill of improv. It’s a highly valuable skill that will be requireed from you if you’re pursuing auditions for commercials. Improv is not only about comedy timing and being funny; it’s also about getting out of your head and being able to think on your feet.
We even have a whole article dedicated only to improvisation training.
6. Commercial Classes
Here is another essential class for actors who are pursuing acting jobs in commercials. Ideally, you should have both — improv and commercial class training.
Just as auditioning classes teach actors how to behave during an audition, commercial classes will teach you how to behave during a commercial shoot. If you have never been to one, shooting a commercial is nowhere near the same as working on a TV, film or a play. Everything moves fast and there’s a lot of improv involved.
7. Vocal Classes
We are slowly sliding into a “not very necessary” territory here, although it depends. If you want to pursue acting on West End or Broadway, these types of classes are a must.
Vocal classes will teach actors how to use their voice to the best of its ability, how to breath properly; there will also be singing lessons. You will learn how to be more aware of your vocal abilities, which is a great skill to have regardless of which acting path you’re taking.
8. Body and Movement Classes
What vocal classes do to your voice, body and movement classes will do to your body. You will become more aware of every limb you have. You will explore physicality of every part of your body that you are able to move.
Most of these classes will not be labeled as “body and movement” and will have different names depending on which background they are based on. It could be Yoga, Alexander Technique or anything else that has to do with movement and awareness in space.
9. Classical Acting Classes
Unless you’re auditioning for a part in a Shakespearean play and you haven’t had drama school training, classical acting classes will not be of much use to you.
Just as you probably have suspected, these types of acting classes teach students of various historical and period acting techniques. They’re perfect to learn Shakespeare and how to do it right. However, if this is your primary aim, training in drama school would be much more beneficial, as these classes are incomplete.
10. Voice-Over Classes
Voice-over classes aren’t the same as vocal classes. We’ve talked a lot about voice-over acting career on this website; it’s a great path an actor can try when all the other options are slow to pick up.
This class will teach you all the technical skills you need to have to become a voice-over actor (and there are A LOT of them). Very few agents and casting directors will be interested in an actor without a voice-over class on their resume just because of how much there is to know about this field in order to look professional.