Method acting is a phrase that loosely refers to a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters, to develop lifelike performances. It’s contrasted with more classical forms of acting as well as traditional opera performance, in which actors and singing actors simulate the thoughts and emotions of their characters through external means, such as vocal intonation or facial expression.
Though not all Method actors use the same approach, the “method” in Method acting usually refers to the practice, pioneered by Constantin Stanislavski and advocated by Lee Strasberg, by which actors draw upon their own emotions and memories in their portrayals, aided by a set of exercises and practices including sense memory and affective memory.
Method actors are often characterized as immersing themselves in their characters to the extent that they continue to portray them even offstage or off-camera during a project. However, this is a popular misconception. While some actors have employed this approach, it is generally not taught as part of the Method.
More Than Script and Character
Opera and Musical Theater singers, we have at least two more major layers added to our portrayal beyond character and “lines”.
We have music and we have vocalism.
This doesn’t mean we can’t develop lifelike performances, it means we have to build REAL musicality and REAL vocalism, which will eventually become your clean canvas for creating a character…no one said it was easy.
As for the music, obey and honor the composer. Be a musician of integrity and be faithful to the score and to tradition. Unless you have proven yourself a worthy challenger, always yield to the conductor.
As for the voice, build the instrument relentlessly as athletes study, build, and nourish their bodies. Trust that all your technique is there when it’s performance time. When the curtain goes up, it’s too late to think about technique. If your technique isn’t ready to trust, your performance will seem especially contrived and uncomfortable for the audience.
Next up…Know Who Your Character is When No One is Listening