Stop, look and listen.

When you’re out and about stop and look at the people passing by.

Play that age-old actor’s game of guessing who everyone is. What jobs each person does. Guess they’re age, if they’re married, nationality, income. Notice their bodies, how they walk, hold their head and general bearing. Hair and make-up.What they wear – and what that means.

It’s observation.

Watch TV with the sound off. Notice how the actors stand, where they look, moving or still, where they are in the frame, blinking or no blinking. Note the iconic masks of the different types. The gestures. How they walk.

The great TV sitcom director James Burrows listens to his actors more than he watches. ‘I walk up and down behind the seats during rehearsal and if there is too long a pause or the intonation isn’t right I yell stop.’

Take Burrow’s practice and watch TV with the picture off. Learn the tones of typical shows, listen if you think the actors are truthful, hear the language, the music of the speech, enunciated or slurred, how the different actor’s voices make up the whole.

Learn to work in smaller and smaller parts.

Stop, look and listen.