Learn everything you need to know about acting from the worst picture in the world.

Apr 4, 2024 | Acting, Auditions

The Worst Picture in the World 

Acting has countless schools, methods, and techniques. This abundance of options can be daunting. This article is for you if you want a simple way to look at acting. Let the “worst picture in the world” simplify the craft of acting for you, as it has for so many of my students over the years. 

Ok. Go ahead, laugh. All of my students do. There’s a reason I teach professional actors and singers and not painters. Jokes aside, this simple picture can tell you everything you need to know about acting. 

First, let me clarify what these awful stick figures represent. The “figure” on the left is a bear. The figure in the center represents you, the actor. The jumble of “shapes” on the right is a cottage.

Ask yourself, as an actor, which would you focus on. When I start each acting semester with this picture, the results are as follows: 40% of students select the bear, 40% choose the girl, and 10% favor the cottage. Which did you pick? The correct answer is (drum roll)… the cottage! 

That’s right! The cottage is what an actor should have as their focus. This house represents an actor’s objective or goal. As an actor, it is paramount that you focus on what your character is pursuing. More on that later. Let’s examine the other figures and why people shouldn’t focus on them. 

The bear represents an actor’s obstacle. An obstacle is what’s in the way of your character’s objective. When an actor takes an obstacle personally, they can raise the stakes of a scene and push their performance to another level. It is deadly when an actor tries to “play” or “focus” on their obstacle. Take this scenario – if you focus on the bear, it will not help you reach your goal, which is to survive. It might actually slow you down or worse paralyze you with fear. Actors who pick the bear tend to indicate their obstacles to audiences, mope, and comment on their situation rather than live truthfully. 

The girl represents the character/actor. When an actor understands a character and personalizes their circumstances, it creates powerful work. When an actor focuses on themselves or tries to show “character,” it takes truthfulness out of their work. If a bear was chasing you in the woods, would you be focused on how you look, what you sound like, or what people think of you? No. 

When actors focus on the cottage, they become the character audiences root for. They become someone who, despite their circumstances and challenges, do everything they can to pursue their hopes, dreams, and goals. 

I hope you found this helpful. If you picked the cottage earlier, good for you. If you are among the 80% of actors who picked the bear and girl, consider how to shift your focus and improve your acting. 

Next time you break down a scene, think of the worst picture in the world. May the memory of this terrible picture lead you to the path of excellent acting. 

Learn More About DGS:

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The Danny Greenberg Studio is a professional performing arts studio for children aged 5 to 18 in New York (Brooklyn and Manhattan!) and online, focusing on vocal and acting training.

 Our students star annually in numerous Broadway shows, national tours, and feature films. Our studio welcomes students of all levels between 6 and 18 to foster their love of performing. Once they’re ready, we also help connect students to top agents and casting directors.

Since our debut, we have focused on three values: children, crafts, and community. Our students develop professional techniques and valuable skills they use inside and outside the studio. We help prepare our students for professional success and make personal impacts through charity cabarets and fundraisers.

We provide private lessons in-person and online in singing, acting, audition coaching, industry professional workshops, showcases, musical theater classes, and admissions prep with curriculums tailored to each child’s needs so they can build their self-confidence. Each year, we coach students for DOE High School auditions, and they consistently get into Laguirdia, Frank Sinatra, and PPAS. We teach acting, singing, and dancing lessons in midtown Manhattan, Greenpoint, and Park Slope Brooklyn. Zoom lessons are also available. Contact us for more information on the admissions process.

Contributed by Danny Greenberg, director of The Danny Greenberg Studio.