Saturday, October 08, 2005

Here a method, there a method, everywhere a method method

There is always much talk about methods in acting. "Method" seems to be a sort of umbrella term referring to how to get into character, read a script, get ready for a performance, interact with other performers, and any other performance enhancing concept.

There are entire schools dedicated only to one given method in their curriculum, such as the Actor's Studio, which teaches only
Stanislavski. (Whose influence is so great, his approach is often referred to simply as "The Method".) On the other side of the spectrum, there are also those who pride themselves on being very strictly "anti-method", (David Mamet, for example, who despite his acclaim and success as a writer actually possesses a questionable understanding of actors, and what they are responsible for in live theatre. But I digress.)

Which method am I a disciple of? Is it, a method? The Method? Attending services at a Methodist church? Truth be told, I am a disciple of no method, and at the same time, I cannot be counted among the ranks of the anti-method cult. Practically speaking, my method for acting is much like the "method" I would use for selecting clothing to wear or CDs to listen to; highly dependant on what the situation calls for.

There are really only two universal precepts for me.

First, I determine the truth of the character. I find out what my character wants, why he wants it, and how he would express this personally. Secondly, I use my knowledge of what my strengths and weaknesses are as an actor to determine how best to approach my portrayal. I may find, after determining these facts that a Stanislavski sort of approach would work best for my goals. For the next play (or even the next scene), I may find his approach unworkable if I adhere too strictly to it. I would therefore adapt my "method" to the situation.

By following these two strategies, I have developed a flexibility in my approaches to characters that, in some ways being a die-hard disciple of a method does not allow. This flexibility has always served me well on the stage.

1 comment:

Monique Danielle said...

Good points made here. For more information about the Meisner Method (which stemmed from Stanislavsky)
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/meisner_s.html