When speaking of Acting Methods and their inventors, one has to include all 8 of the following for their contributions to the art on a whole. Each one of the techniques briefly touched on below offer something different in their approach.
I have taken classes in all of these methods and others over my long tenure and have incorporated some of these techniques and concepts into my own style of work.
As we are just dipping our toe into the methods below feel free to spend some time researching and learning more about each one. As an actor, you may want to seek out instructors in these methods to better round out your level of skills. I have other posts which include a more fleshed out narrative on the methods.
One of the world’s most frequently taught acting techniques, Stanislavski inspired scores of future teachers including Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner, and Lee Strasberg.
~Think emotional memory recall, spiritual realism, and self-analysis rolled into one big ball of drama.
Stella Adler’s approach is also built on that of Stanislavski, but imagination is emphasized over emotional recall; in her words, “You have to get beyond your own precious inner experiences.”
~ This method allows you to create emotions rather than experience them from memory.
Famous for his “repetition” exercise, Meisner teaches actors to “live truthfully under given imaginary circumstances.” The work emphasizes openness, honesty, and listening above all.
~ As an actor 99.9% of what you will do is based on experiences created for your character in someone’s imagination.
Lee Strasberg’s actors intensify their connections to the work by mimicking characters’ experiences within the context of their own (real) lives and reaching deeper connections and understandings of their characters’ emotional worlds.
~ In other words using your own experiences to bring realism to your character’s actions.
Michael Chekhov created a famous “psycho-physical” technique which draws on physical actions and mind-body connection to create a sensual approach to the character.
~ Body language is a huge part of what an audience picks up on. It can make something completely believable or utterly ridiculous.
It’s all about realism for Uta Hagen. Students are taught to “substitute” or “transfer” their own memories into the experiences of their characters, building deep connections based on their own personal truths.
~ So, the reverse of Stella Adler. This method banks on your previous life experiences.
Viola Spolin’s “theater games” approach inspires students to respond immediately and live in the moment. Her technique focuses on self-direction and improvisation, and she’s considered a driving force of improv as we know it in North America.
~ One of the most beneficial methods for any actor is Improvisation Techniques.
Developed by actor William H. Macy and playwright David Mamet, this analytical approach emphasizes the simple pursuit of an action above all else. Actors’ attention goes to text-analysis, script work, and a literal understanding of a scene’s driving events.
~ Great for anyone who needs a real background on the WHY.
Focusing on the weakest point of performance the actor is strengthened through the use of Improv, Repetition, Realism, Body Language & Voice.
~ Well rounded confident actors give better performances.