Method acting is Lee Strasberg’s own version of Stanislavski’s System. This technique is more than just emotional memory substitution that Stanislavski teaches. It involves an actor being fully immersed and committed to the role he or she is playing. Method acting is not simply playing a role but becoming the character that is portrayed.
To bring the words of a script to life, an actor may conjure up emotions by imagining themselves in the scenario or by dredging up memories from past experiences. An actor often sacrifices time and even physical health to prepare for a role. He or she mentally transforms for a period of time. An actor may also relocate to better understand how the character’s life – their neighborhood, family and friends, successes and challenges. At the end of such preparation, what the audience witnesses is often an impacting manifestation of a person, fictional or otherwise.
Method acting differs from classical acting or “the Shakespearean style”, where the actor produces a more focused, controlled, and precise performance in a theatre setting. It is also different from character acting where the actor plays more of a supporting role. Instead, in method acting, the actor takes on the leading role and can improvise to allow the character to be an extension of the actor’s own personality.
This type of acting is very popular among Hollywood’s biggest names such as Robert DeNiro, Nicolas Cage, and Marlon Brando. Best described by Strasberg himself:
“Method acting is what all actors have always done whenever they acted well.”
At The Playground, we are happy to include method acting as part of our curriculum. We teach it as a vital technique in addition to other techniques such as Michael Chekhov, Stella Adler, Uta Hagen, Viola Spolin, Meisner Technique, and Practical Aesthetics.