There is something very exciting and attractive about the idea of taking a short-term class, be it a one-day seminar or workshop, a four-day Master Class, or a six-week intensive. These short classes and workshops afford a limited time commitment and create a sense of intensity while still offering an educational opportunity. But can these short-term formats really have a long-term impact?
The answer is yes. But this really depends on the content and goal of the class or workshop. If you have never studied audition technique, a one-day workshop can make a long-term change in your perception and understanding of what kinds of techniques a successful audition requires. But if the goal is to master auditioning, a one-day workshop is unrealistic. A long-term class with an expert is more realistic to attain the knowledge and skill of successful auditioning through trial and error and practice.
There are short-term intensive acting workshops and even one-day seminars that can address issues for an actor and reveal something that is either blocking them or educate an actor about what they need to learn. And certainly, an intensive six-week course that leads to a continuation of lengthier training can lay the groundwork for a substantial part of a technique that may be long-term and career-changing.
Joanne was once in a Master Class of a teacher who traveled the world teaching for a few days at a time but had discontinued teaching any ongoing or regular classes at a school. Many of his previous students who had studied extensively with him over the years would comment that they felt they were able to get the most out of his Master Classes because, unlike others who had no previous training, they had a context for the condensed class; a shorthand for the work he was instructing. They felt others may have been less successful in grasping the work so, in that case, lasting artistic changes could be less likely.
A critical factor in this equation is what the actors expect and want out of the class and at what point they are at in their skill set and knowledge. An experienced, fully trained actor may take a short class and acquire career-changing insight they have the skill and training to implement. But a beginner actor might take the same class and find they are exposed to information they are not yet able to fully understand or be ready to implement.
The key is to know where you are in your artistic development and career, to think about what you need to learn, and what your goal is in taking the class. If you are clear about the classes you take and what they can offer you, depending on where you are in your skill, you will make wise choices.