Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Meisner, Method, et al.

In the beginning, the cavemen were bored around the camp fire, so they told stories and acted them out. Greeks called them "Thespians," then a Russian named Stanislavski happened on the scene. Whew, went through some major history there in a couple of sentences.

Stanislavski brought "realism" to the stage and preached that the actor needed "live the part" during the performance (not to be confused with "the Method" where you live the part everywhere). Lee Strasbourg and Stella Adler taught from Stanislavski's position and trained many of the famous film and tv actors of the US. In Stanislavski's practice, the actor relives similar memories to invoke the needed emotion. Meisner, Strasbourg, the Method, all have roots in Stanislavski's work.

And it's important to note, that these techniques have constantly been reworked and continue to evolve. The Method, commonly attributed to the teachings of Strasborg, also rely heavily on "substitution." Finding that memory and bringing it up in the scene. The Method has developed quite a reputation for actors such as Daniel Day Lewis, Dustin Hoffman, and Christian Bale, who throw themselves into a role, in front of the camera as well as behind.

Sanford Meisner took it a slightly different direction. His goal was to get the actor to live truthfully in an imaginary setting. The focus was not on the lines, but on the subtext below the lines. In this regard, the line itself doesn't matter as long as the actor is truthful to the subtext, the meaning is conveyed.

This is a quick rundown of some of the most popular theories of acting. And I want to note that Sean Patrick Flannery told me about Method actors-- if it hurts, why do it? It's call 'acting' for a reason." I always found that funny.

BTW, none of this has anything to do with the Acting Seminar on Oct 24 and Workshop on Oct 25. All you actors get plenty of training in this stuff. I want to deal with acting from the director's perspective. for more info or to register,
click here

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