“Create your own method. Don’t depend slavishly on mine. Make up something that will work for you! But keep breaking traditions, I beg you.” , Konstantin Stanislavski
There are so many different acting techniques. I think every actor should learn and try as many as possible, and search for what works better for himself.
We all have a different life, past, and sources to get inspired from. We also all have a different way and strength of imagination, and different ideas and ways of thinking. All of those elements nourish our performance, they shape and affect the characters we create.
There is no good and bad technique, there is just one that will be more suitable and will work best for you.
Here are the main and most famous acting techniques, the basics in acting that as an actor/actress, you have to know about!
Stanislavski’s Method or System
Konstantin Stanislavski, is considered the father of acting.
He was a Russian actor, director and theatre practitioner, who created a revolutionary method in the 1900s. He developed a technique to help actors create more believable and natural emotions, and actions in the character they portray. His technique is based on 7 pillars: action, imagination, attention, relaxation, units and objectives, emotion memory, and truthfulness.
Michael Chekhov, Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler, and Lee Strasberg, were all Stanislavski’s students! All of them went on creating their own famous method, the main, most popular and worldwide practiced acting techniques.
The Chekhov Acting technique
Created by Michael Chekhov, the method is based on a “psycho-physical” approach. In his technique he wants his students to find truthful moments onstage, by nurturing their imagination while grounding emotion in physical action.
For Chekhov, actors must imagine the character’s inner life, but it is also about visualizing the actor’s energy on stage, a skill he calls “radiating”.
In addition to imagination and energies, the mind-body connection is an essential element of his technique. He works by training the body and connecting it to the emotion.
In the 1930s, Sanford Meisner developed a unique approach, based on the actor not focusing on themselves but on the other actor.
To help actors with it, he created the famous repetition exercises, where 2 actors sit across from each other, and respond to each other through repeated phrase. The actors react to each other tone, intensity and way of saying a same sentence. That way, the actor doesn’t focus on the line, stop thinking about what to say or do, and react more freely and spontaneously, physically and vocally. For him, it was about bringing the actor back to his emotional impulses.
Lee Strasberg’s Method
Strasberg’s Method emphasizes connecting to a character by drawing on personal emotions and memories.
He created a set of exercises and practices, including working on “sense memory” and “affective memory“. His technique forces the actors to imagine themselves, with the thoughts and imagination of the character.
Stella Adler technique
Stella Adler was an American actress who elaborated her own technique, that focuses on imagination, developing it with many different exercises.
She noticed that using past experiences may have an unhealthy effect on actors, as they are personal and may truly affect the actor as a person. She wanted to protect them, and so she trained the actors on relying heavily on imagination, and external research for the creation of their characters.
I have personally studied and tried all of them except for Strasberg, but it’s on my list! Stanislavski is deeply interesting and really the foundation of acting. I love Meisner’s work on connection, I also love Stella Adler’s modern approach. I have learned so much from all of the techniques.
What about you, which one seems the most interesting to you?