How to Study Method Acting

Are you interested in acting?

You try a lot, but are still lacking that “little-something” which creates that “magic” on the screen. Well that is because acting is no easy job if you don’t know the hows of acting.

There’s a lot of difference between acting and impersonation. Impersonators only imitate a person’s behavior, while actors need to become that character that they are playing, to play that character and also to speak the truth of that character.

Method acting is that technique that separate “actors” from “imitators”. In method acting a person creates the thoughts and emotions of the character they are going to play, in themselves.

This requires a study of the character you are going to play and then simulating the thoughts and emotions of the character by vocal intonation or facial expressions.

1. Observe

To do method acting, first you will need to study your character carefully. This means considering the character’s psychological motives. How the character thinks about things around him/her. What are his/her strengths and weaknesses?

Make sure you take notes while researching your character. Like:

  • They are shy. (Feels nervous when put in the spotlight).
  • He likes kids.
  • He doesn’t like posers and changes his behavior when he is with them.
  • Doesn’t laughs too often, (smiles or giggles) a bit, etc.

2. Ask Yourself “Why”?

Like mentioned before acting without knowing about the character is sort of like lying. Now its good that you have knowledge about the character’s behavior but to understand the character completely, you will have to ask yourself “why”? Ask yourself these questions about the character and when you’ve found the answers, make notes. For example :

  • “Why is he shy?”
    • “Because he was a loner and never had any friends in school.”
  • “Why does he likes kids so much?”
    • “He always thinks the world is a mean place. So he loves the pureness and innocence of a child.” etc.

3. Find that character in “you”

After you have understood completely about the character, try to relate to him/her by asking, “What would motivate me, the actor, to behave in the way the character does?” Try to reproduce the character’s emotional state by recalling emotions or sensations from your own life.

4. Be Honest

Not saying as you haven’t paid your taxes! But be honest with the “character”. Sanford Meisner, a ‘Group Theater’ pioneer, described acting as “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances”.

5. Ask others what they think of your new technique

If they just say, “It’s good.”, tell them you want their real opinion. This is very important, because you need to know what your audience will think of you.

6. Show Time!

Once you have studied all these things, just apply them when you perform. Take these things (notes that you made etc.) as a foundation of your character and then once you have “get it”! Then put them away and perform on your knowledge about the character and your instinct.

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