Navigating Acting Techniques


Navigating Acting Techniques

Stanislavsky, Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner, Lee Strasberg, Uta Hagen, Michael Chekhov.

If you’re in the acting world, you probably hear these names constantly. These are some of the teachers that have created the foundations of acting. Some actors swear by a certain teachers technique and never stray away from it. The Stanislavsky’s system is one of the most frequently taught acting techniques around the world. In fact, stanislavsky influenced a few of these teachers techniques such as, Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner and Lee strasberg.

In my Junior year of highschool, me and a couple of theatre friends decided to enter into an improv competition seven hours prior the the time in started — not a smart idea. Our faces hit the floor, literally and metaphorically, because Improv competitions are no joke. These improv groups take the craft of improv as serious as Texans take their football. I did learned a lot while I was laying on the floor immersed in my failure looking up at their accomplishments. The main lesson I took away from that humbling day, though, was a name — Sanford Meisner.

After the initial competition part, we all came together and played a bunch of theatre games. Amongst those was Meisner’s famous repetition exercise. My observation of the exercise that day, and over the years, is two actors getting rid of alot of inhibition automatically simply because their attention was on something else. The exercise is two actors sitting across from each other. There is only one phrase that is being exchanged between them. The repeated phrase is about each other’s behavior.

For example:
Actor 1: I’m getting angry with you
Actor 2: You’re getting angry with me
Actor 1: I’m getting angry with you

And so on and so forth. The way this phrase is said changes in its meaning, tone and intensity. Corresponding with the behavior that the actors are feeding each other. The purpose of this exercise and a key foundation to the Meisner technique is observing behavior and taking your mind of your self.

“To be an interesting actor….. to be an interesting human being – you must be authentic and for you to be authentic you must embrace who you really are, warts and all. Do you have any idea how liberating it is to not care what people think about you? Well, that’s what we’re here to do.” – Sanford Meisner

Meisner really emphases being aware of the other person, putting your attention on them and watching their behavior, and since your focus is on them you’re not really interested in what’s going on with you so you’re less self conscious.

Every person is different, every actor is different, what works for me might not work for you. I am not devoted to any particular teacher or technique, I study them, experiment and then take bits and pieces to make my own formula. Acting isn’t meant to live in your head, it’s energy that is meant to be exerted.

Video production school attendee Evan!Klancy Baker is a 20-year-old film student who adores the art of acting and writing scripts. She’s lived all across America and hopes to travel the globe. She would like to thank her mom for never encouraging her to wear shoes when she could walk barefoot.

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