Condés' Craft and the Performers Passion
Dear fellow actor,
I recently had the most wonderful opportunity to speak with one of London’s top, much sought after acting coaches Gary Condés. Gary has had a marvellously varied 30 year career as an actor from stage to screen and everything in between. Coming from Spanish parents, Gary fell by chance into Acting; the only creatively expressive bone to come from his mother who, in her day was a Flamenco dancer. Gary found himself following a friend to an audition one day and fell somewhat by accident, in love with the craft and the capability that a stage offers to freely explore the hidden niches of oneself.
“I knew nothing about acting and I knew nothing about the craft or anything other than 'This is a lot of fun and there is this thing which I am starting to do which is express myself', and not just have fun, but also get into areas of myself, emotions and expressions which were either taboo or brushed under the carpet, or not given any sort of space for.” It is such a resonating thought, and a refreshing one to hear coming from a high standing industry professional. I think it is exactly the reason that so many of us fall utterly in love with performing - to be given a blank canvas of infinite possibilities and be allowed to take the brush (you) to places where you might never have the chance to otherwise. It is exactly the reason that I fell in love with the stage. It was a place where I could allow my expansiveness to be expansive. ‘Expanding’ and it’s variables is a word that Gary and I touched upon several times throughout our conversation. The expansiveness that is required of an actor to fill a character beyond the truth of the actor themselves, or for him, as Gary puts it, “mere truth”. Whether you have been involved in the performing world or not, I think everyone can agree that bringing your truth to any art is an unarguable necessity.
But the inner, or ‘mere truth’ is only the beginning. Acting, unlike other artistic endeavours, requires you to embody an art that already exists - the script.
Depending on the role at hand, our ‘mere truth’ can be enough to fit that particular script: “that may be enough for, let's say a character that's close in age to you, in socio economic group”. But what happens when your truth does not align with the character’s truth? How do you honour your truth, as well as embodying the character in an honest and real way? It is a question which I have struggled with before, but Gary’s insights shed a light on the means to this feat that I had not quite considered - you honour both.
“...if the clues about the psychology of the character points you in a slightly different direction (to your own truth), then you have to bring yourself up to meet those demands rather than bring the scene down to suit you; or the character down to suit your limited way of being.” … “you are expanding rather than staying as you are.” And the ‘how’ of this is where Gary comes in. His method, or as Gary jokes - he himself - is tried and tested. Having had the hands-on experience in a vast variety of performances has allowed him to whittle down what works and what does not work. In particular, Gary’s method of breaking down a scene is one that can be applied to virtually anything. I asked Gary whether his upcoming online workshop with us: Casting Techniques was aimed at acting for screen, or acting for stage to which he replied with adamancy: “it’s an acting course, full stop”. Be it radio, TV, a close up film shot, a black box theatre, or a 1000 seat auditorium, it begins with the script, and Gary’s method gives you the tools to transform those words into something understandable, tangible, actable.
“So that you can act it in a way that is revelatory, truthful, but also clear in its storytelling”.
Whilst it is indeed a ‘Casting Workshop’, Gary gives you the tools to unravel a text, a character, and be readily prepared for the time you enter in that audition. Gary’s method of breaking down a scene and getting to the heart of a character's psychology is applicable to virtually any scripted performance piece - he has even used the method to coach opera singers in certain arias; enabling them to reach a deeper emotional connection with their character, and that which they are expressing. With experienced industry knowledge, Gary confides in us how to use those techniques, and be confident to deliver them in any audition.
Gary has had the extensive performance experience to continuously rehone and refine the skills one needs to embody effective character work, and is able to relate “tales from the front line”, (the do’s and don’ts of being a high end actor). But as well as that, Gary has the added advantage of being on the other side of the camera. With the experience of casting and directing under his belt, Gary can, with confidence, impart on his students what is expected from those who will be deciding whether you get the job or not.
A thorough examination into the auditioning processes follows on from the techniques needed to break down a scene. With more and more of our crafts processes moving online - from self taping to online auditions - a course designed such as this one is exactly the kind of upskilling one needs to keep themselves afloat in the current climate. There are many things we can long for during these tumultuous times, but the ability to have access to practitioners like Gary from anywhere across the globe is without a doubt one of the amazing benefits.
Gary came from humble roots and grew himself from the ground up. Yet he continues to grow, learn and expand himself as a coach to fit the needs of an ever changing industry, and an ever changing climate. A gentle reminder dear friend, that you do not need to come from a colourful background of experience or knowledge to be part of this creative world. That coming as you are is enough - with all the emptiness and vibrancy and possibility that a human has. That this craft is about being human and you need not be anymore or any less that what you are in this moment, and this breath.
I think that is what is so wonderful about Nita’s (founder and CEO) philosophy here at Actors Academy Finland. Anyone can be a part of acting, even if you are not an ‘actor’. Expressivity is for all.
With all this of Gary implied, there is no arrogance from the man. He exudes a wonderful sense of humility and groundedness. He is passionate, insightful, and knowledgeable about his craft. So much so that it opened a curious spark in me about performing which I had quite forgotten about. And this all from one zoom call.. I can only imagine what an entire course would do for one's creative spark.
If you are looking for a fresh insight and a fresh angle and a fresh way into your acting technique, to be confident in your auditions, to regain that spark, to get a new spark (even if you've already got one - get a second spark!) then Gary? He’s your man.
If you are interested in learning from one of the best, Gary’s upcoming four week workshop ‘Casting Techniques’, with Actors Academy Finland starts on the 11th of March, will be held online, and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. More details and booking can be found here. Places are limited to eight persons, so register your interest immediately to avoid disappointment.