LA TO LONDON: HOW'S ACTING DIFFERENT ACROSS THE POND?
This week wraps up my six-month stay in London, and five months of volunteering and studying with The Mono Box team. I landed here on Christmas Eve 2016, a year and a half after taking my first acting class in my hometown of Los Angeles. The plan? To immerse myself in as much training, play-reading and theatre going as I could in my short time here.
Wait wait wait...Okay that’s cool but why would you LEAVE LA to come to London to act? Don’t actors WANT to go to LA?
I got this question within my first two weeks here, from another actor. And have probably gotten it on an every-other-week basis ever since. These started conversations on how different acting is in the two cities, the great things and the pitfalls of each place.
Here’s a rough idea:
Acting work and training in LA → commercials, television spots, film. a lot of short courses in audition technique and screen work, improv-heavy, scene study.
Acting work in London → theatre, commercial, television spots, film. drama school and short courses with a larger emphasis on stage.
I have a theory. Film and TV are the biggest industries in LA, and that shapes who moves there to work, and how people navigate working in the arts. London seems the opposite: it has a long-standing culture of performance, theatre and the government’s investment in it shapes that part of its industry and therefore how people engage with it. People move to Los Angeles from all over to get on television, whether that’s commercials, shows or film, and to make money doing it. “Don’t worry about film and theatre anymore”, one coach said to us during class, “television is where the money is. Look at the budget for Game of Thrones!” Although this isn’t the consensus in LA (thank GOD!), coaches, agents and managers have repeated this. The coursework focuses on the industry needs, so a lot of training involves screen acting work. While drama school is still popular for actors in the UK, Los Angeles emphasizes short courses in acting rather than drama school. CDs in LA often do not know how to translate a drama school curriculum when looking at an actor’s resume/CV. Rather, they want to see that you’ve studied with the coaches they are familiar with and whom they trust to. In London, theatre has a stronghold that shapes the way actors train and work. Theatre demands a different type of performance, and the lengthier theatre process combined with the UK’s investment in theatre makes acting feel much mo