If you’ve been taking part in drama workshops in London, you might well have come across the term ‘method acting’ already. But what exactly is this and how can these techniques help you to become a better actor or actress?
Essentially, method acting is simply a number of different techniques to help actors really become the character that they’re playing, a set of strategies devised by Lee Strasberg, an American actor, director and teacher who founded the Group Theatre in 1931 alongside Harold Clurman and Cheryl Crawford.
Strasberg’s Method can be traced back to ideas formulated by Constantin Stanislavski, a Russian actor and theatre director. Strasberg operated on the idea that in order for people to develop a deeper, more emotional understanding of their role, they should tap into their own experiences in order to identify better with the character in question.
Techniques include sense memory, substitution, animal work and affective memory. Substitution, for example, involves understanding how the elements of the life of your character can be compared with various elements in your own life, intended to produce a more sincere performance.
Affective memory, meanwhile, involves thinking back to find a situation that you’ve been in that’s similar to the one your character finds themselves in. And sense memory will require you to recall the physical sensations that surrounded a particular emotional event, rather than the emotions themselves.
It’s all about relying on your own personal experiences in order to bring a part to life. Bear in mind, however, that it’s important not to go too deep with it. Some actors have been known to stop eating, sleeping or seeing friends and family in order to improve their performances.