What is cold reading for actors?

Cold reading is an essential skill for serious actors to learn because it’s a talent that opens doors to professional opportunities. Cold reading classes teach students how to read aloud from a script or text with little to no rehearsal time. Sometimes referred to as sight-reading, cold reading might be used when a playwright or screenwriter needs to get an idea of whether a script is working. Public cold readings are sometimes arranged as entertainment or to assess how audiences will react to a piece. Of course, the most common use of cold reading is for auditions. Producers, directors, and casting agents use readings to assess actors’ capabilities in a specific role.

cold reading classes in new york ny - students reading sides

Cold readings can be an excellent opportunity to get in front of people and perform, but there is typically little preparation time. In a cold reading class, an actor develops a technique for bringing rich and vivid emotions and behaviors to a part right away. New students often arrive at Maggie Flanigan Studio with a misconception that it is the words in the script matter. This is a myth. Directors and producers are not there to see you read lines. They are looking to be amazed, surprised, and thrilled by the person you create. They are hungry to see a whole new reality emerge right there on the spot. That’s a tall order, but it’s your job as an actor, so training in cold reading is a must.

Why are Cold Reading Classes important for the professional actor?

A cold reading class taught by an experienced professional is a great way to develop a technique. Training can prepare an actor to go into any cold reading audition or scenario where they need to perform with little preparation.

The term cold reading was coined by psychics, fortune-tellers, and mentalists who, without any prior knowledge, must make an educated guess about a person, who they are and what they are about. By taking in details like how they dress, their manner of speech, body language, hairstyle, and more, they make predictions based on who a person is. In cold reading, an actor works in much the same way, except they are not reading details from an actual person. They must use a cold reading technique to and create the details themselves based on a few clues from the text, but relying mainly on their imagination.

When auditioning, actors might receive “sides,” a few pages of dialogue. This is a small piece of the puzzle, so they must learn to make bold, smart choices based on very few clues. Many audition techniques recommend poring over a script and memorizing every line. However, the lines alone won’t tell you the whole story. In essence, a cold reading class teaches students how to create a real and complex person based on minimal context. They learn to read quickly, make decisions, and ground the reading in truthful emotions and behaviors that make it exciting and real.

Cold Reading Classes for Actors from New York NY

The cold reading class at Maggie Flanigan Studio is a 10-hour course offered over ten weeks and is part of our two-year acting program. In the first few weeks, we focus on theater auditions and how to work when paired with reading partners, even if they are unskilled. During auditions, you may be asked to read with a non-actor or someone who is not as skilled. In this class, you learn to read exceptionally well, even if a reading partner is contributing very little. Later, students work with cold reading monologues where they take a chunk of text and turn it into spontaneous, vivid behavior working alone.

cold reading classes new york ny - charlie sandlan

During the second year, students apply techniques from Cold Reading I and explore improvisation and spontaneity. Students are thrown into situations that mimic situations that happen in real life. The instructor may give students material, ask them to prepare, and then at the last minute, assign them a different part. Or, when they show up to a rehearsal, they are given “new” pages, changes from the writing room that they must perform right away. There is a layer of secrecy surrounding work being put out by networks and studios. Actors may not receive a lot of information about the overall project or character they are reading for. We try to simulate as many experiences as possible so the students can train to be ready for any scenario.

Learn More About Cold Reading Classes New York NY

At Maggie Flanigan Studio, we enroll only four students in each Cold Reading class. This small class size allows students to hone this critical skill. They have one hour to read quickly, prepare, and then audition. The audition is followed by feedback, discussion, and a chance to make adjustments and try again.

cold reading class new york ny - students with sides

Creating authentic behavior with little preparation time is challenging but extremely rewarding. As you begin to nail cold reading techniques, you will gain confidence and have the ability to approach auditions or readings, knowing you are capable of bringing spontaneous, truthful behavior, no matter what. Learn to make a great first impression and become known as a professional who can handle readings with ease. An actor’s job is to be unforgettable, in the right way, of course. Our cold reading class can help you get there.

To register for Cold Reading classes or the two-year program at Maggie Flanigan Studio, actors must interview with Charlie Sandlan, the Executive Director and Head of Acting. You can schedule an interview online or call (917) 789 1599 for more information.

Best Cold Reading Classes in New York NY

Cold Reading Classes New York NY

The Maggie Flanigan Studio offers Cold Reading Classes for actors from New York NY as well as these New York, NY areas:

New York NY, Manhattan, NYC, Bronx NY, Brooklyn NY, Queens NY, Staten Island NY, Battery Park City NY, Financial District NY, TriBeCa NY, Chinatown NY, Greenwich Village NY, Little Italy NY, Lower East Side NY, NoHo NY, SoHo NY, Wards Island NY, Washington Heights NY, West Village NY, Alphabet City NY, East Village NY, Lower East Side NY, Two Bridges NY, Chelsea NY, Clinton NY, Gramercy Park NY, Kips Bay NY, Murray Hill NY, Peter Cooper Village NY, Stuyvesant Town NY, Sutton Place NY, Tudor City NY, Turtle Bay NY, Inwood NY, Spanish Harlem NY, Waterside Plaza NY, Lincoln Square NY, Manhattan Valley NY, Upper West Side NY, Lenox Hill NY, Roosevelt Island NY, Upper East Side NY, Yorkville NY, Hamilton Heights NY, Manhattanville NY, Morningside Heights NY, Harlem NY, Polo Grounds NY, East Harlem NY, and Randall’s Island NY.

To learn more about cold reading classes at the Maggie Flanigan Studio, and the acting programs that we offer for serious actors, click here.