Method acting

Method acting (also known in the context ofd the theater as Method) consists of the endeavour to apply "natural" rules and laws to theatrical and screen acting. This has the intention of aiding an actor with the process of playing a rôle.

The Method approach, characterized by lack of any specific or technical approach to acting, usually forms an antithesis to cliché, unrealistic, and so-called "rubber-stamp" acting. 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 "what if", "substitution" and "emotional memory".

Theater folk often refer to the modern movement known as "method acting", sometimes confusingly, as "the Stanislavski System" after Konstantin Stanislavski who pioneered similar ideas in his teachings, writings, and acting. His influential books include 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.

Many others have followed the example of Stanislavski as prominent Method teachers. They include:

Sanford Meisner, another Group Theatre pioneer, championed a separate, though closely related, school of Method acting. Meisner broke from Strasberg on the subject of "sense memory" or "emotion memory", one of the basic tenets of Method. Meisner's theory thus revolves around fully immersing oneself in the moment of a character, and experiencing all sensations as the character would; while his contemporaries used their own experiences as springboards into the emotional life of the character.

Though opponents have often misunderstood or negatively stereotyped method acting - causing criticism and even splintering among method-acting factions - it remains, as a whole, a successful movement. It allows both creative freedom and room for the individual nature of its participants, but also offers concrete ways of tackling the more abstract portions of the art and fully inhabiting another mind, body and soul.


I see the bear. The bear growls. I feel fear. I think of my mother. I watch a Woody Allen film. I remember the bear. I cry. I think of my mother, I run. To my mother.

External references:

Major books on Method:


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