Skip main navigation

Course Introduction

A more detailed introduction to what the course is about, and what it is built to do, with an explanation of the reasoning behind the chosen strategy.
So, what is this course? Let’s start from the beginning. What is acting? Whenever I meet a new group of students, I always start by asking that question. And everybody always seems quite surprised by it. Surely, we must know what acting is, they seem to think. We are, after all, actors. And yet, the answer doesn’t come very easily. The reason I ask this is because if acting is what we’re going to study– –it seems important that we have a shared understanding– –of what exactly it is that we’re talking about. So, how then might we start answering that question? Well, one way is to say that actors usually work within the confines of a story.
They are the inhabitants of a fictional world that is presented to us. They depict people that are not themselves. They exist in a universe that isn’t real– –but that seems so real to us that we invest our time and our emotions in it. What I mean is this. If you’ve seen the movie “Gravity”, you didn’t see actual astronauts in space– –you were watching actors working in front of a green screen. And still I think that most of us who saw it– –with all our hearts really wanted Sandra Bullock to return safely to earth. So how, then, do we do this?
My hope is that over the following 3 weeks– –you’ll be provided with some basic principles and ideas– –that might be helpful to you in your acting. I don’t think that I have any absolute answers– –and I certainly don’t claim to be “right” about anything. But all the same I’m hoping– –that some of what I have to say will prove useful to you in your work. I think it’s a lot more productive to think about acting theory or coaching in this way. As helpful or not, or inspiring or not or useful or not. –rather than something that is necessarily right or wrong.
More than anything you will be introduced to a way of thinking about acting– –that puts your focus outside of yourself and your own performance– –and instead onto what it is that you’re doing. Step by step, we will examine the different elements of the work of the actor. We will look at a practical approach to the first steps of the acting process. We will discuss the dramatic situation and what goes into it. And we will briefly touch upon working with text. The overall goal being to learn how to make clear and specific choices– –that will allow your instincts and imagination and creativity to take over.
In this video Johan presents what the course is about and asks the question “What is acting?”

Over the next three weeks you will be introduced to some basic principles and ideas about acting that hopefully will be helpful to you in your work.

The main focus being to put your focus outside of yourself and your own performance.

You will also practice making clear and specific choices that will bring out your instincts, imagination and unique point of view.

This article is from the free online

Introduction to Acting

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education