Is theater killing acting?
The issue is that theater prices, access in much of the country, the high price of college and theater schools, the Hollywood and NYC make money off of new talent machines all are limiting acting to an elitist profession, where only the wealthy or well off can afford to pursue the craft.
The two markets are among the highest cost of living in the nation, if you want to avoid the abject poverty of the slums. They are flooded with talent wanting to break into the business, most without the chops or training to do so. A system that tells them 'anyone can become a star' feeds them unprepared to a giant money eating machine, so most end up broke, having to leave for other professions and some go over the edge into abject poverty or worse (suicide is higher than the national norm for actors).
This has to stop.
Theater exist in many lower cost markets. Actors can train at lower cost schools, community college or even in community theaters, if they are good enough to rise above the mediocre or misinformation they may(or may not be (there are great theaters and programs out there in "flyover country") exposed to. And the Internet has added a wealth of books, texts, videos and other tools to study, learn from and market yourself.
Actors need to pay attention to and learn from the top actors in theater and film, by studying what they do, what makes them successful (and not the Hollywood PR), their performance styles, the tools they use. Its all there for the price of an intenet connection (avialable at many libraries, schools and communtiy centers for free).
Do not mimic.
And when you can afford it, find qualified coaches to study with.
Do high price drama schools help?
As in every profession, it is where you go and who you know.
High priced, and hard to get into drama schools at univeristies or at the center of the industry have top level faculty, a proven track record, provide the educational foundation you need for life and the stresses you will have unrelated to or despite your acting career.
As in any profession, studying at these schools or with these teachers, captures the eye of others in the industry who have studied with them or graduated from those schools. It's a foot in the door, but you still have to deliver the goods.
The name on the diploma, the list of the school and your faculty on your resume and the training you receive, may make you a better person and better actor, and open the doors for auditions.
But who can afford it?
Support schools, theaters, community centers that keep the training low cost, that provide the basics and that allow talent to grow without the high pressure sales and hype.
Help you fellow actors.
Teach and share with your fellow actors.
Learn from them.
Do not turn you back on anyone because of income, criminal record, ethnicity or race. You will grow and you may just be a part the art form to keep from dieing off, or becoming an elitist separate jewel and not the product of where it belongs...the people.
Vin Diesel was a street teen, a tough guy. While hanging our near a theater and defacing property, the theater manager and the director of a production in workshop, decided to give the kids a chance. They were offered internships and even roles in productions. The rest is history. Still his lack of formal education, and street accent, limited his work. So he and some friend in New York produced a high quality film that earned film festival awards...and the rest is history.
This is only one example of what can come from helping those who cannot afford the elitist, expensive track.
If you can afford it...go for the gold! It is worth it. If not, learn form those who know and grab opportunity when you can.
Also, remember there are scholarships, low cost ticket offerings at professional theaters, grants and internship jobs out there if you are willing ot do the work.
Best of luck to all of you.