When choosing a school, a class, or a workshop you might at first be baffled by the terms and philosophies on offer. Stanislavsky vs Strasberg, The Method vs Meisner. What should you choose, which method will suit you and your outlook? Hopefully we can help you to familiarise yourself with the techniques and terrain, you should be able to see that one particular method will ring true for you. When choosing a technique, there is a “Method” to the madness, do your research and know what’s out there.
Method acting? There are quite a few methods. Mine involves a lot of talent, a glass and some cracked ice.
Whatever technique you choose to use, or choose to develop remember that a technique is a guide for you to grow as an artist. In a class everyone will use the same technique, but out in the real world on a job no one will really care what technique you are using unless it is getting in your way or slowing done the work. A technique is there to help you become the fullest artist you can be, keep your mind open and you can never stop growing as an artist.
Russian theatre is to blame! It all began with Konstantin Stanislavsky who introduced psychology to the craft of acting and started a revolution. Acting became so much more than merely representation, it became about making behaviour real, making a performance a ‘believable truth’. His actors used their real life situations to create their ’emotional memory’, they could then draw upon their past situations to recreate emotion needed for a scene. Using repeated actions, and other physical methods, actors were able to access emotion and ‘become the role’.
Method acting is a label I don’t really understand, because there’s a method to everybody’s acting.
This way of acting became the foundation of twentieth century technique for actors. It was further developed in the United States into different schools, all with an intention of creating truthful behaviour in acting. Stella Adler explored the use of imagination and how it can help the actor to create firm decisions. Meisner focused on finding the right activities and behaviour which has personal meaning to the actor. Viola Spolin used improvisation and games to unleash an actor’s creativity and sense of play which in turn would open up new ways of self expression.
Each technique has something unique to offer you and what you have to do when choosing a class is see what would work best for you. What fits with your sensitivities, with your vales and beliefs, with your own way of working currently. Do you want to head off in a new direction and see what could be explored there, or do you want to stick with what you know and further develop your current way of working?
When choosing a class or a technique, remember that no course is designed to intimidate, the course leaders and directors are on your side. They want to help you to develop and grow. Regardless of style a good teacher will want to get the best out of you. If a way of working is not right for you then explore another avenue. Every actor develops a process and a technique in their own unique way. Art is interpretation. Find your own path but always look for another route and enjoy the exploration even if you end up going the long way round and end up back on the path you were already treading.