What is the Stella Adler Acting Method?
Adler disagreed with Strasberg’s interpretations and usage of Stanislavski’s system, feeling that emotional recall was a psychologically unhealthy way to approach acting. When she trained with Stanislavski in 1934, she discovered that Stanislavski, too, had changed his mind about his own early concepts of emotional memory and emotional recall. Like Stanislavski, Adler believed that actors must rely on their imaginations — and on doing external research — rather than digging up traumatizing memories and moments from their own personal lives.
Specifically, what does Stella Adler’s Acting Method entail?
First and foremost, Adler believed that actors should be independent, creative, well-rounded beings with their own personal points of view and their own unique, strong choices. She also strongly advocated for the use of imagination (vs. personal life experience/emotional recall) to bring the text to life on stage.
Adler also strongly emphasized the use of action in acting — e.g. labeling, specifically, what one character is doing in relation to another character. Actions are, in this sense, external, specific and achievable. For example, if an actor lets say an actor is playing character A, who is having a heated argument with character B. Rather than playing the emotion (in this case, anger) the actor must decide, “what is my character doing to character B?” — and play that action. Instead of simply “being angry’ with character B, perhaps character A provokes, lambast or incites character B. This sort of approach prompts the actor to be focused and engaged externally and specifically on his or her scene partner — rather than internally on a generalized emotional state.
And lastly, of course, Adler valued the “cultivation of a rich humanity,” or holistic engagement with the world beyond the theatre or film set. She felt that actors should be exposed to a variety of cultural, social, political and historical ideas and experiences in order to become more worldly and well-rounded human beings and artists.Adler’s students are also trained in comprehensive script interpretation and analysis methods, in which scripts are broken down into specific “beats,” and lines of text are associated with specific actions.
Revised – Original content courtesy of the Top Hollywood Acting Coach