What is Method Acting
If one listens to either its critics or supporters Method Acting is described as a form of acting where the actor mystically ‘becomes’ the character or tries to somehow literally live the character in life. Like all clichés, both explanations are false. When Lee Strasberg defined what is popularly known as Method Acting he used a simple declarative sentence: “Method acting is what all actors have always done whenever they acted well.”
Now to the casual observer, that may sound as though he were implying that only actors who studied and used Strasberg’s particular method of work were good actors; but such an interpretation is contrary to Strasberg’s intent. He meant that what is called “Method Acting” is nothing new, but rather as old as Western Civilization itself. In fact, the Greeks were the first to identify and practice this kind of acting (despite it being credited to Constantin Stanislavsky).
For centuries, cultures used different words and phrases to describe this kind of “good” acting: Romantic Acting, Emotional Acting, Divine Inspiration, The Muses, Feeling the Role. These terms merely described an organic process of creativity that talented actors used, often times unconsciously, to accomplish what audiences experienced as a moving performance; And this ‘moving’ was in fact the (re)experiencing of life by the actor within the fiction of the story as if it were true and happening now.Aristotle said that the secret to moving the passions in others is to be moved oneself, and that moving oneself is made possible by bringing to the fore “visions” of experiences from life that are no longer present. In essence, Aristotle was stating the core principle of The Method—the creative play of the affective memory in the actor’s imagination as the foundation for (re)experiencing on stage.
This idea was first called the ‘System’ by Konstantin Stanislavsky, and later, as further developed by Lee Strasberg (at the Group Theatre, the Actors Studio and then at the Institute), ‘The Method’. The Method trains actors to use their imagination, senses and emotions to conceive of characters with unique and original behavior, creating performances grounded in the human truth of the moment.
As the only school in the world that teaches Lee Strasberg’s work in its consummate form, The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute is the home for all actors seeking to delve into Method Acting and its tradition of training some of the worlds most brilliant and truthful actors.