Solo Exercises for Actors – Part I

I’ve had a number of emails recently about acting students who are in a situation where they can’t be in a class for various reasons – whether it’s financial, location, or other, and want to do exercises to keep themselves in the work.

First of all, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have a good teacher or coach to work with.

One that sees you, identifies your blocks and issues, has the talent to break you through your own barriers, and spends time on you.

In the meantime per your requests, here is an exercise that you can do on your own, alone, or in front of a camera or even audience. It’s called the Three Phone Call Exercise and here is a brief excerpt from my class notes at The Actors Workout Studio.



In this exercise, you are in your domain either getting ready to leave or settling back from being out. You will make or receive three phone calls. Each call needs to be very different, with a different point of view and tone, to three different people. You are in these phone calls while in the “doing”, meaning you are doing something during the call. Cast the person, and hear their side of the conversation. Immerse yourself in the call, hear them, respond to them, and complete the call. As you complete the call you continue your activity and move on to the second call, either one you make or receive. A second phone call with another person with a different life…. Then a third call. When finished, you leave or go back to your activity.


Cast people that you can create a genuine emotion with. Listen to them. Take your time. Make them important, and be creative. Find something that you can authentically connect to. Do this while “in the doing.” You are doing something or getting ready to go somewhere. This exercise is about specifics, activity, and living truthfully in the moment. Review the calls – are you being real or “stagy”? Authentic? Phony?

Give the phone calls contrast. These should be people you have a very different emotional point of view about. Show us your range. Don’t make them all the same. Keep each call to no more than 2 minutes. Practice, time yourself, and rehearse with yourself.


I get home and am getting ready for bed, and see that I have a message. I listen to the message; it’s my mother… again. I return the call. She’s complaining about something. I feel guilty and irritated when I speak to her. I talk with her for a bit and hang up….. I continue to get ready and call a woman I’m interested in, I’m quite nervous, I like her and don’t know if she likes me. I chat her up a bit and then ask her out Friday night…..I continue and make a third call. It’s to the vet. My cat is not doing well and they tell me it’s time to decide to put her down or not… I hang up and continue.

You can practice this by yourself, with a friend, even tape yourself and review it. Again, a good “eye” watching you and giving notes and feedback is best. Do this once a week if you are self studying.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Fran Montano - is the owner and Artistic Director of The Actors Workout Studio, located in the NoHo Arts District for nearly 30 years. It is one of the longest running small, intimate theaters and Acting Schools in the Los Angeles area. AWS was created to being a “home” for aspiring and working actors were the work not only includes classes and training, but personal coaching, career planning, networking, showcasing, and regular performing. His students range from beginning actors, accomplished actors who work regularly in film, television, and stage, as well as numerous working directors and writers. His style is on an individual basis and in his small, intimate classes, it’s like working with a private coach. His reputation is in finding and breaking actors blocks Fran’s background as an actor, in producing, directing and theater makes him an excellent resource for actors in Los Angeles, in finding their way both in their talent, and promoting their career. Visit for more information and a schedule of classes and productions


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