Method Acting Defined
Sometimes I get this question. Most people I meet now a days are not that familiar with the definition. So here is mine. Of course it may differ from others but here it goes.
Method Acting is an approach, a system, it’s a way of a getting connected to something in your own life that is real. It was first pioneered by a Russian name Konstantin Stanislavsky. He created this approach. He found that the acting that was being performed in the day was melodramatic. Now this was around the turn of the century. Watching melodrama was not real it was contrived, water well traveled, all ready been done type of acting. Much like the stuff you see on today’s children’s programming. Stanislavsky set out to change this. In doing so he forever changed acting as we know it today.
Have you ever had a nightmare? Ever woke up in the middle of the night scarred out of your mind? Body sweating, breathing hard? Find it hard to get back to sleep? I have. I once was woken up by my girlfriend who was having a nightmare. I watched her body completely react to the imaginary fear, in this moment the penny dropped. Have you ever been in your head? You know day dreaming, thinking about this or that, then all of a sudden you realize the bus has hit your stop. That you are pulling into the parking garage. Well what you are doing is method acting, on a very small scale.
Most people use their imagination to pass the time. When you are bored or trying to kill time. In essence the things you will be thinking about, usually not the most positive, will effect your body. Have you been on the bus, subway or a line up. Have you looked at the other people. Most of them are just mindlessly thinking about this or that. Most of them are thinking about some sort of conflict that is going on in there life. Because conflict keeps us interested, just like in acting. There they are, there you are, just thinking away about how “your not gonna make it in acting”, “it’s all about your looks”, “so and so always get that part”, etc. Just think what is happening to your body. Your body starts to react to the thoughts. It starts to sweat, breathing changes, facial expressions change to grimaces etc. What you are doing is giving yourself a nightmare.
This is what Stanislavsky discovered. That the body cannot tell the difference between reality and vividly imagined circumstances. So with this key datum, the method was created. He discovered through many years of research that you can get the body to react truthfully. So he set out to create a repeatable drill, something you can do over and over again. It is these drills that compile his work.
These drills are taught over and over again in many studios through out the world. You can do them at home, in your car, any place really. There are countless books on the topic. Try them, and use what works for you.