Just for friends of Bridge to the Future, Inc. Media Arts non profit org.
Here are some interesting and valuable tidbits on acting methods used over the years. For my friends overseas use http://translate.google.com/ . Just copy and paste the text into translate and copy and paste it back to your computer in your language.
Method acting is any of a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and feelings of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances. Though not all method actors use the same approach, the "method" in method acting usually refers to the practice, influenced by Constantin Stanislavski and created by Lee Strasberg, in 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 acting shares similarities with Stanislavski's system.
Method actors are often characterised as immersing themselves in their characters to the extent that they continue to portray them even offstage or off-camera for the duration of 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.
Method acting has been described as having "revolutionized American theater." While classical acting instruction "had focused on developing external talents," the Method was "the first systematized training that also developed internal abilities (sensory, psychological, emotional)."
Method acting continues to evolve, with many contemporary acting teachers, schools, and colleges teaching an integrated approach that draws from several different schools of thought about acting.
Classical acting is a type of acting that is based on the theories and systems of Constantin Stanislavski and Michel Saint-Denis, including the expression of the body, voice, imagination, personalizing, improvisation, external stimuli, and script analysis.
Character comedy is a method/genre used by some comedians. In character comedy the comedian performs as though he was a character created by him/her. A good deal of comedians have enjoyed fame from character comedy.
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Famous comedians who use character comedy
Psycho-physical Awareness is a popular acting technique used in many schools and universities in the U.S. and Europe. This technique works on the relationship between the mind and the body and at developing an actor’s conscious awareness. In other words, recognizing the resulting sensory and mental states in reaction to physical stimuli. The pioneer of this technique is Constantin Stanislavski who sought to overcome the divisions between “mind from body, knowledge from feeling, analysis from action” through psychophysical training or the method of physical action, but it was Michael Chekhov who further developed an original and dependable method of what we now know to be psycho-physical awareness.
Stanislavski to the Present Based on the ideas of Stanislavski, Michael Chekhov developed this technique in order to achieve the highestcreative potential by developing extreme sensitivity of the body to the psychological creative impulses. He felt this was imperative in becoming an ‘ideal’ actor. According to Chekhov in his book, To the Actor:
The actor in the future must not only find another attitude towards his physical body and voice, but to his whole existence on the stage in the sense that the actor, as an artist, must more than anyone else, enlarge his own being by the means of his profession. I mean the actor must enlarge himself in a very concrete way, even to having quite a different feeling in space. His kind of thinking must be a different kind, his feeling of body and voice, his attitude in the settings- all must be enlarged.
Chekhov developed a series of exercises influenced in part by Rudolf Steiner, which explore a psychophysical approach to training and performing. “If the actor is engaged in the process of imagining through the body, then their sense of ‘self’ is forgotten, and the embodiedimagination alters the psychophysicality to be/become that of the character.”
Other pioneers and practitioners in this field that need mentioning include Phillip B. Zarrilli and Jerzy Grotowski.
Zarilli’s most recent book, Psychophysical Acting: An Intercultural Approach after Stanislavski (2008) has been selected for the 2010 Outstanding Book award for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE). Zarilli developed a system of training though yoga andAsian martial arts that heightens sensory awareness, dynamic energy, and in which body and mind become one.
Jerzy Grotowski is known for using yoga as well as plastiques (a series of strenuous postures, gesture and tumbles) and the use of the whole body as a vocal resonator. He later found that adding human interaction (working with partners) loosened creativity and challenged the body more psychologically. Solo yoga postures he found to be limiting and isolating.
An example of plastiques involves the vertebra extracted from Grotowski’s Towards a Poor Theatre, clarifies the connection between emotional and physical states of the actor. The energy must first start physically within for it to find it’s way out through expression, thereby engaging the need for psycho-physical awareness.
The vertebral column is the center of expression. The driving impulse, however stems from the loins. Every live impulse begins in this region, even if it is invisible from the outside.
Other physical acting training techniques relative to personal awareness, but not limited to, can be found in the exercises of Moshe Feldenkrais,Kristin Linklater, Cicely Berry and Frederick Matthias Alexander.
Units of action, or units (sometimes also called beats), were first suggested by Konstantin Stanislavski as a means of helping actors determine the through line or super objective of a role. A unit is a discrete piece of action in a play-text, marked by a significant change in action. This could be a change in what the characters already on stage are doing or trying to do, i.e. a change in their objective, a new character entering the scene or those already on stage exiting.
Units are also used by writers and dramaturges as a means of analyzing text for editing purposes. Dividing text into units makes it more manageable and thus easier to edit.
The use of units of action was based around the emotional construct of the character. If emotional memory is to be used, how can that be interpreted through voice. The process can make the actor change emotion all together if he or she finds the line in itself can not justify the emotion.
Stanislavski, used the word "Bits" not beats. Due to his strong Russian accent, when he said Bits it sounds like beats.
Viewpoints is a technique of composition that provides a vocabulary for thinking about and acting upon movement and gesture. Originally developed in the 1970s by choreographer Mary Overlie as a method of movement improvisation, The Viewpoints theory was adapted for stage acting by directors Anne Bogart and Tina Landau. Bogart and Overlie were on the faculty of ETW at NYU in the late 1970s and early 1980s during which time Bogart was influenced by Overlie's innovations. Overlie's Six Viewpoints (space, story, time, emotion, movement, and shape) are considered to be a logical way to examine, analyze and create dances, while Bogart's Viewpoints are considered practical in creating staging with actors.
Overlie's Viewpoints 
SYSTEMS is a mnemonic device for the six elements of Overlie's viewpoints (the actual acronym is spelled SSTEMS: Space, Shape, Time, Emotion, Movement, and Shape,) and also signifies which elements Mary Overlie considered the most important. Note the change from the classical and modern periods in performance art, where story always took precedent over the other elements. Viewpoints is part of the post-modern tradition, in that there is no hierarchy in the different elements that make "theatre."
Architecture - The physical environment, the space, and whatever belongs to it or constitutes it, including permanent and non-permanent features.
Spatial Relationship - Distance between objects on stage; one body in relation to another, to a group, or to the architecture.
Topography - The movement over landscape, floor pattern, design and colours.
Shape - The contour or outline of bodies in space; the shape of the body by itself, in relation to other bodies, or in relation to architecture; think of lines, curves, angles, arches all stationary or in motion.
Gesture - a) Behavioral gesture: realistic gesture belonging to the physical world as we observe it every day. b) Expressive gesture: abstract or symbolic gesture expressing an inner state or emotion; it is not intended as a public or "realistic" gesture.
Tempo - How fast or slow something happens on stage.
Duration - How long an event occurs over time; how long a person or a group maintains a particular movement, tempo, gesture, etc. before it changes.
Kinesthetic Response - A spontaneous reaction to a motion that occurs outside of oneself. An instinctive response to an external stimulus.
Repetition - a) Internal: repeating a movement done with one's own body, and b) External: repeating a movement occurring outside one's body.
Psychological or narrative content ascribed to movement.
Movement of your body, different ways of moving - for example, jerky versus smooth/flowing versus very slowly or fast. The movement of different parts of your body.
All of the different elements influence each other and work together, and can "cause" a change in a different element. For example, the shape of your body may carry a certain emotion with it as well - something in the space of your environment may make a story out of what you are doing - etc.
The actors must focus first on the isolation of each separate viewpoint element on its own, before integrating and working them all together. It's often that a performer finds one of the elements comes naturally, and perhaps uses that one element they really understand to access the other elements, which they must work to become more familiar with.
The through line, sometimes also called the spine, was first suggested by Constantin Stanislavski as a simplified way for actors to think about characterisation. He believed actors should not only understand what their character was doing, or trying to do, (their objective) in any given unit, but should also strive to understand the through line which linked these objectives together and thus pushed the character forward through the narrative.
Through line is increasingly being used in other contexts as substitutes for words like 'thread' as seen in the following excerpt from an article byAlex Knapp:
"There is a constant through line we see starting with A New Hope and running through to the end of the Return of the Jedi of the Emperor consolidating more and more power into his own hands and that of his right-hand man, Darth Vader". (Source: Five Leadership Mistakes Of The Galactic Empire)