Method Acting Techniques
Method acting is a systematic technique employed by actors to behave realistically in a make-believe scenario. This method encourages an actor to identify, understand, experience a character’s inner motivation and emotions for an extended duration.
Method acting was developed in New York by The Group Theatre members, including Lee Strasberg, Sanford Meisner, and Stella Adler. However, it derives its foundation from Stanislavski’s system, developed by Konstantin Stanislavski for training actors. He mainly focused on the “art of experiencing.”
Method acting can be approached using three different techniques. Each of these techniques address a certain aspect:
The Psychological Aspect by Lee Strasberg:
His teaching philosophy heavily relied on improvisation and affective memory. He felt that by using this technique an actor can express the appropriate emotions demanded of the character. He stressed upon discipline as well as psychological truthfulness. He believed that actors must continuously respond to imaginary stimulation. They have to replicate their real-life emotions more fully and expressively. For this, they have to convince themselves that what they are doing on stage is right. Hence, during rehearsal and before the curtain raiser, they should visit the character’s childhood and sink into the character’s life.
Some of the A-listers who followed his technique were Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Marilyn Monroe.
The Sociological Aspect by Stella Adler:
Stella Adler professed adding vivid imagination to the concept of emotional recall. Drawing from her personal experiences, she felt recalling personal emotions was not a healthy approach to the art of acting. She wanted actors to create a treasure of their private memories. This would enable them to depict a wide range of characters accurately and convincingly. She felt actors’ gain proficiency by expanding their knowledge base.
Some celebrities who followed her acting style include Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Melanie Griffith.
The Behavioral Aspect by Sanford Meisner:
Meisner’s Technique stressed upon emotional preparation, repetition, and improvisation. To begin with, an actor should know the complete emotional background of the character he is portraying. This will enable them to react realistically and authentically in the imaginary situations. This could be done by speaking to people with similar experiences or studying the character’s past.
Secondly, he emphasized on the repetition exercise. This involved the two actors practicing their dialogues repeatedly while bettering their performance in every successive round. This would help them to work upon their intensity, tone, and emotion while speaking and promote spontaneity.
Finally, he stressed upon improvisation which involved actors imitating the characters based on instinct and emotional connection.
As per him, all these components help actors remain in the present instead of relying on memory or rehearsal. His acting style produced outstanding actors like Gregory Peck, Sandra Bullock etc.
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