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Encyclopedia > Method Acting

Method acting is an acting technique in which actors try to replicate real life emotional conditions under which the character operates, in an effort to create a life-like, realistic performance. This is contrasted with a more abstracted, less involved style of acting in which the actor himself or herself remains an outside observer of the character he or she is portraying. Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... Acting is the work of an actor or actress, which is a person in theatre, television, film, or any other storytelling medium who tells the story by portraying a character and, usually, speaking or singing the written text or play. ... For other uses, see Actor (disambiguation). ...


"The Method" in method acting typically refers to the generic practice of actors drawing on their own emotions, memories, and experiences to influence their portrayals of characters.

Contents

Origins

"The Method" was first popularized by the Group Theatre in New York City in the 1930s, and subsequently advanced by Lee Strasberg at The Actors Studio in the 1940s and 50s. It was derived from Stanislavski's 'system', created by Constantin Stanislavski, who pioneered similar ideas in his quest for "theatrical truth." This was done through friendships with Russia's leading actors, collaborations with playwright Anton Chekhov, as well as his teachings, writings, and acting at the Moscow Art Theater (founded in 1897). The Group Theatre was a left-wing theater collective, formed in New York in 1931 by Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford and Lee Strasberg. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... The 1930s (years from 1930–1939) were described as an abrupt shift to more radical and conservative lifestyles, as countries were struggling to find a solution to the Great Depression, also known as the World Depression. ... Lee Strasberg (November 17, 1901 – February 17, 1982) was an American director, actor, producer, and acting teacher. ... The Actors Studio is a membership organization for professional actors located in the Old Labor Stage at 432 West 44th Street in New York City. ... The 1940s decade ran from 1940 to 1949. ... the first thing that was invented was the automatic DILDO. Education grew explosively because of a very strong demand for high school and college education. ... Stanislavskis ‘system’ is an approach to acting developed by Constantin Stanislavski, a Russian actor, director, and theatre administrator at the Moscow Art Theatre (founded 1897). ... Young Stanislavski Stanislavski in Carlo Goldonis La locandiera (The Innkeeper Woman, 1753), in 1898. ... The Moscow Art Theatre is a theatre company in Moscow, Russia, founded in 1897 by Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. ... 1897 (MDCCCXCVII) was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ...


Strasberg's students included many of America's most famous actors of the latter half of the 20th century, including Marlon Brando, Vic Morrow, Paul Newman, Al Pacino, James Dean, Dustin Hoffman, Marilyn Monroe, Robert De Niro, Jane Fonda, Jack Nicholson, and many others. (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999... Marlon Brando, Jr. ... Victor Vic Morrow (February 14, 1929 - July 23, 1982) born Bronx, New York was a Jewish-American actor. ... This article is about the American actor and race team owner. ... Alfredo James Pacino (born April 25, 1940) is an Academy, Golden Globe, Tony, BAFTA, Emmy, and SAG award winning American actor who is best known for playing the roles of Tony Montana in the 1983 film Scarface and Michael Corleone in The Godfather Trilogy . ... For the film, see James Dean (film). ... Dustin Lee Hoffman (born August 8, 1937) is a two-time Academy Award-winning, BAFTA-winning, and five-time Golden Globe-winning American method actor. ... Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson; June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962), was a Golden Globe award winning Jewish-American actress, model and sex symbol. ... Robert De Niro in 1988 Robert De Niro (born August 17, 1943) is a two-time Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning American film actor, director, and producer. ... Jane Fonda (born December 21, 1937) is a two-time Academy Award-winning American actress, writer, political activist, former fashion model, and fitness guru. ... Nicholson as Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors (1960). ...


In Stanislavski's 'system' the actor analyzes deeply the motivations and emotions of the character in order to personify him or her with psychological realism and emotional authenticity. However, using the Method, an actor recalls emotions or reactions from his or her own life and uses them to identify with the character being portrayed. Stanislavskis ‘system’ is an approach to acting developed by Constantin Stanislavski, a Russian actor, director, and theatre administrator at the Moscow Art Theatre (founded 1897). ...


Technique

Some consider method acting difficult to teach. This is partially because of a common misconception that there is a single "method." "The Method" (versus "the method" with a lowercase m) usually refers to Lee Strasberg's teachings, but really no one method has been laid down. Stanislavski himself changed his System constantly and dramatically over the course of his career. This plurality and ambiguity can make it hard to teach a single method. It is also partially because sometimes method acting is characterized by outsiders as lacking in any specific or technical approach to acting, while the abundance of training schools, syllabi, and years spent learning contradict this. In general, however, method acting combines a careful consideration of the psychological motives of the character, and some sort of personal identification with, and possibly the reproduction of the character's emotional state in a realistic way. It usually forms an antithesis to clichéd, unrealistic, so-called "rubber stamp" or indicated acting. Mostly, however, the surmising done about the character and the elusive, capricious or sensitive nature of emotions combine to make method acting difficult to teach. Lee Strasberg (November 17, 1901 – February 17, 1982) was an American director, actor, producer, and acting teacher. ... Konstantin (Constantin) Stanislavski (Константи́н Серге́евич Станисла́вский / Алексе́ев) (January 5, 1863...


Depending on the exact version taught by the numerous directors and teachers who claim to propagate the fundamentals of this technique, the process can include various ideologies and practices such as "as if," "substitution," "emotional memory in acting," and "preparation." In theatre, substitution refers to the method of understanding elements in the life of ones character by comparing them to elements in ones own life. ... Emotional memory in acting is an element of the Stanislavski System or Method Acting, an approach to acting. ...


Sanford Meisner, another Group Theatre pioneer, championed a separate, though closely related school of acting, which came to be called the Meisner technique. Meisner broke from Strasberg on the subject of "sense memory" or "emotional memory," one of the basic tenets of the American Method at the time. Those trained by Strasberg often used personal experience on stage to identify with the emotional life of the character and portray it. Meisner found that too cerebral, and advocated fully immersing oneself in the moment of a character and gaining spontaneity through an understanding of the scene's circumstances, and through exercises he designed to help the actor gain emotional investment in the scene and then free him or her to react as the character. Sanford Meisner (August 31, 1905-February 2nd, 1997) was an actor and acting coach well known for the Meisner technique. ... The Group Theatre was a left-wing theater collective, formed in New York in 1931 by Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford and Lee Strasberg. ... The Meisner Technique has influenced some of the most popular stage and screen actors of our time. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Stella Adler, the coach whose fame was cemented by the success of her students Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and Robert De Niro, as well as the only teacher from the Group Theatre to have studied Acting Technique with Stanislavski himself, also broke with Strasberg and developed yet another form of acting. Her technique is founded in the idea that one must not use memories from their own past to conjure up emotion, but rather using the Given Circumstances. Stella Adler's technique relies on the carrying through of tasks, wants, needs, and objectives. It also seeks to stimulate the actor's imagination with the use of as-if's. As she often preached, "We are what we do, not what we say." Stella Adler (February 10, 1901 – December 21, 1992) was an American actress, and for decades was regarded as Americas foremost acting teacher. ... Marlon Brando, Jr. ... Alfredo James Pacino (born April 25, 1940) is an Academy, Golden Globe, Tony, BAFTA, Emmy, and SAG award winning American actor who is best known for playing the roles of Tony Montana in the 1983 film Scarface and Michael Corleone in The Godfather Trilogy . ... Robert De Niro in 1988 Robert De Niro (born August 17, 1943) is a two-time Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning American film actor, director, and producer. ... Stella Adler (February 10, 1901 – December 21, 1992) was an American actress, and for decades was regarded as Americas foremost acting teacher. ...


Teachers

Stanislavski's work, including the autobiography My Life in Art, and his trilogy of books set in a fictionalized acting-school as a pretense for his own teachings: An Actor Prepares, Building a Character, and Creating a Role, inspired many others who have followed the example of Stanislavski as prominent Method teachers. They include: Konstantin (Constantin) Stanislavski (Константи́н Серге́евич Станисла́вский / Алексе́ев) (January 5, 1863...

  • Richard Boleslavsky, founder of American Laboratory Theatre.
  • Maria Ouspenskaya, actress. Taught at New York's American Laboratory Theatre. Students included John Garfield, Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg.
  • Stella Adler, actress.
  • Herbert Berghof, founder of HB Studio.
  • Richard Boleslawski, actor and film director.
  • Michael Chekhov, actor, director, author. (His method, largely an outside-in approach and somewhat more "metaphysical," diverged from and converged back to Stanislavski's over the course of his career.)
  • Harold Clurman, director and critic.
  • Jack Garfein, director, actor, former director of the Actor's Studio in Los Angeles, instructing for more than 40 years.
  • Uta Hagen, actress, the author of Respect for Acting and Challenge for the Actor. (She emphasized "identity" and "substitution.")
  • Lorrie Hull, former Actor's Studio senior faculty instructor under Lee Strasberg. Author of Strasberg's Method, endorsed by Susan Strasberg.
  • Robert Lewis, cofounder of The Actors Studio and author of Method — or Madness?
  • Sanford Meisner, actor.
  • Jean Shelton, director, actress, worked with Clurman and Strasberg at Group Theatre, founder of Jean Shelton Actors Lab
  • Lee Strasberg, director, actor, producer.

The technique continues to be taught at schools around the world, including the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles, the Actors Studio Drama School in New York, the The Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York, HB Studio in New York as well as in Europe in Le Studio Jack Garfein in Paris. Hull Actors Studio in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara, CA, The Actors Center of San Francisco with [Shelley Mitchell]link title. Ryszard BolesÅ‚awski Ryszard BolesÅ‚awski (February 4, 1889 - January 17, 1937),was a Polish film director, actor and teacher of acting. ... Maria Ouspenskaya (July 29, 1876 - December 3, 1949) was a Russian born actress who achieved success as an stage actress as a young woman in Russia, and as an elderly woman in Hollywood films. ... John Garfield John Garfield (born March 4, 1913 in New York City; died May 21, 1952 in New York City) was an American actor. ... Stella Adler (February 10, 1901 – December 21, 1992) was an American actress, and for decades was regarded as Americas foremost acting teacher. ... Lee Strasberg (November 17, 1901 – February 17, 1982) was an American director, actor, producer, and acting teacher. ... Stella Adler (February 10, 1901 – December 21, 1992) was an American actress, and for decades was regarded as Americas foremost acting teacher. ... Herbert Berghof (1909-1990) was born in Austria. ... Ryszard BolesÅ‚awski Ryszard BolesÅ‚awski (*February 4, 1889 - † January 17, 1937),was a Polish film director, actor and teacher of acting. ... Mikhail Aleksandrovich Chekhov (Russian: Михаил Александрович Чехов, August 29, 1891 in Moscow – September 30, 1955 in Beverly Hills, California) was an Academy Award-nominated Russian-American actor, director, author, and developer of his own acting technique used by actors such as Clint Eastwood, Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brynner, and Robert Stack. ... Konstantin (Constantin) Stanislavski (Константи́н Серге́евич Станисла́вский / Алексе́ев) (January 5, 1863... Harold Edgar Clurman (September 18, 1901 – September 9, 1980) was an Jewish-American theater director and drama critic, most famous for his work with New York Citys Group Theater. ... Jack Garfein, born July 2, 1930 in Mukacevo, Carpathian Ruthenia, Czechoslovakia (now Mukacheve, Ukraine), is an acting teacher and former motion picture and theater director. ... Uta Hagen with Paul Robeson in the Theatre Guild production of Othello, which ran on Broadway from 1943 to 1945. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... The Actors Studio is a membership organization for professional actors located in the Old Labor Stage at 432 West 44th Street in New York City. ... Sanford Meisner (August 31, 1905-February 2nd, 1997) was an actor and acting coach well known for the Meisner technique. ... Lee Strasberg (November 17, 1901 – February 17, 1982) was an American director, actor, producer, and acting teacher. ... Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute is one of the most prestigious acting schools in the world and was founded by pioneer, Lee Strasberg, in 1969. ... The Actors Studio is a membership organization for professional actors located in the Old Labor Stage at 432 West 44th Street in New York City. ...


Major books on the Method

Ryszard Bolesławski Ryszard Bolesławski (February 4, 1889 - January 17, 1937),was a Polish film director, actor and teacher of acting. ... Uta Hagen with Paul Robeson in the Theatre Guild production of Othello, which ran on Broadway from 1943 to 1945. ... Hello people This book by Stanislavski is a good read. ... A portrait of Konstantin Stanislavsky by Valentin Serov. ... Mikhail Aleksandrovich Chekhov (Russian: Михаил Александрович Чехов, August 29, 1891 in Moscow – September 30, 1955 in Beverly Hills, California) was an Academy Award-nominated Russian-American actor, director, author, and developer of his own acting technique used by actors such as Clint Eastwood, Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brynner, and Robert Stack. ... Lee Strasberg (November 17, 1901 – February 17, 1982) was an American director, actor, producer, and acting teacher. ... Sanford Meisner (August 31, 1905-February 2nd, 1997) was an actor and acting coach well known for the Meisner technique. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Ed Kovens is an American SAG, AFTRA, and AEA actor. ...

References

Theories and Techniques of Constantin Stanislavski
v  d  e
Active Analysis • Action • Adaptation • Affective Memory • Bit
Cognitive Analysis • Communication • Concentration of Attention • Etude
Experiencing • Given Circumstances • Imagination • Indicating • Inner Contact
Inner Monologue • Intention • Justification • Lure • Method of Physical Actions
Motivation • Objective • The Questions • Relaxation • Representation
Sense Memory • Subtext • SubstitutionThrough-line of ActionTurning Point
An Actor PreparesMy Life in ArtMethod ActingMeisner Technique

  Results from FactBites:
 
Method Acting for Directors (2756 words)
To reach this "believable truth", Stanislavsky first employed methods such as "emotional memory." To prepare for a role that involves fear, the actor must remember something frightening, and attempt to act the part in the emotional space of that fear they once felt.
This was a clear break from previous modes of acting that held that the actor's job was to become the character and leave their own emotions behind.
The problem with the soap acting is not the method, but not having time for the Method.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Method Acting (377 words)
Method acting is an acting technique in which actors try to replicate in real life the emotional conditions under which the character operates, an effort to create a life like, realistic performance.
Actor was suppose to act in given circumstances, the exercise of the imagination, and the use of physical action.
In general, however, method acting combines a careful consideration of the psychological motives of the character and some sort of personal identification with and possibly the reproduction of the character's emotional state in a realistic way.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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