Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Basics of Acting Technique: Part Six

Now that we've spent some time defining some of the more popular approaches to training, I think we should go back to the beginning, so that we can discuss some of the things that the craft of acting was intended to address. 

**The reason that this seems particularly relevant is because of the fact that many American academic and conservatory-based programs profess to uphold many of Stanislavski's teachings.**

First of all, "The System" is a shortened version of the larger phrase, written by Stanislavski:  "A system of things for the actor to do when in a difficult spot."  Strasberg used to say, "Stanislavki invented nothing new.  He went about understanding what we all do on the days that our imaginations engage and everything comes to life for us onstage."

He had noticed that even great actors were wildly inconsistent, and went about understanding what great actors seemed to be doing in moments of great inspiration as opposed to off-nights.  He would then interview actors to get a sense of how they felt about their work.

To Stanislavski, great actors seemed to be (and to refer to feeling) relaxed on the stage and had greater concentration on the good nights.  He also read the journals of many great actors for before his day, who would try to do the same thing every night - and yet were achieving different results.

He made a great deal of contributions to world theatre.  He developed a manner of breaking down scripts, so that an actor could discern between different elements of human behavior and pick appropriate emotional work that would put that actor in the same state as the character.  He also created all sorts of exercises that helped actors build concentration, spontaneity, and focus. 

As his work evolved, his exercises and philosophies changed throughout his lifetime.  He was initially very intrigued by Naturalism, but soon developed the idea of Spiritual Realism (aka Psychological Realism): exposing the hidden aspects of relationships between people and of revealing the repressed elements of everyday life.   He began to believe that it was important for an actor to "live" through a role without falling into the trap of 100% belief.  In that way, the actor could keep a small piece of attention on keeping the actors' instrument tuned.

Most programs that follow Stanislavski's teachings center their semesters/years around his books.  At the Moscow Art Theatre School, they follow An Actor Prepares for the first year, working on "Etudes" (from the French word for "study"), which is usually applied to difficult pieces of music, created specifically to hone technical aspects of musicianship.  In this case, it consisted of exercises for the actor's instrument, including objects, animals, observation, parodies, silence etudes, and affective memory.  The second year is centered around Building a Character, which consists of teaching practical dramaturgy to students, so that they are able to discern scripts and begin to build their abilities to execute those understandings in scenework.  The third year is centered around Creating a Role, and students generally work on roles in acts from different genres of plays together and for a sustained amount of time.

It can be very daunting to pick up one of Stanislavski's books.  They are so dense that, I know it took me a full year, simply to digest An Actor Prepares as I read through it.  Fran Gercke, my friend and first acting teacher, used to suggest that people could go ahead and skip straight to Creating a Role, because Stanislavski's work was cumulative and built upon itself, so he was constantly redefining from book to book.  I do not mean to suggest that the first two books are unimportant.  They are all good reads.  But we can't learn ourselves from a book.  We need an outside eye.  We need guidance.  If you're interested in programs that center around the teachings of The Moscow Art Theatre, then the best book to read for a basic intellectual understanding is Creating a Role.

That said, be wary of "Stanislavski Based" programs.  The phrase doesn't mean anything - because all acting training is Stanislavski based.  Usually, what that means is that the teachings don't adhere to any one viewpoint.  And though many people seem to like that in our society, keep in mind that you're not trying to learn the tricks of the trade from Stanislavski or Meisner or Strasberg or Adler or Lewis or Hagen or their progeny or whoever the hell else.  You are trying to learn yourself.

Stanislavski has been overquoted to say, "Create your own method. Don't depend slavishly on mine. Make up something that will work for you!"  But in order for us all to do that, we have to first learn ourselves.  By keeping our attention on the teachers and their teachings, we do exactly what Stanislavski warned us against.  We, instead, have to take their teachings and time-tested understandings of human behavior and use them to discover ourselves.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Basics of Acting Technique: Part Five

This chapter focuses on some of the more popular movement and physical theatre techniques that are taught in the United States. 

**NONE of these techniques are complete in the full scope of building the actor's craft.  They are ALL supplementary in nature, helping an actor build tools that will strengthen the actor's instrument.**

Viewpoints is an improvisation-based technique that provides actors with a tool box and vocabulary for exploring a play through movement and gesture.  It was developed in the 1970’s by choreographer Mary Overlie, who was on faculty with director Anne Bogart at The Experimental Theatre Wing of NYU.  Bogart and Tina Landau (playwright/director) then adapted it for actors in the late 1970s and early 1980s. 

The Viewpoints Method is deconstructive in nature.  It allows performers to work on isolated issues that lie outside the standard narrative framework of modernist acting.  Viewpoints is primarily useful in helping actors build awareness, helping groups establish cohesive ensembles, and (most practically) in helping directors create staging with actors. 
“Instead of beginning with the idea of making theater, this approach begins with taking theater apart.  The Viewpoints process reduces performance to a code. This code acts like a flexible measuring device, much like a transit and rod used in surveying for mapping land. The Viewpoints, like the transit and rod, were devised to reveal structure… The structure we see through the Viewpoints is made in six basic windows of perception that are used to create and view theater.”  - Mary Overlie
There are Six Viewpoints - space, shape, time, emotion, movement, and story.   Bogart removes emphasis on emotion and story, because they are generally fundamental to an actor's mindset.  There are a host of exercises that include:
  • Improv games.
  • Moving around a room in different modes, methods, and tempos (paying attention to architectural and spatial relations
  • Examining and mirroring movements of others, and engaging in different types of movements with the whole body and specific parts (the aim being to let the body move the way it wants to and to strengthen the connections between feeling and action).
The main principle of Viewpoints is to give actors a fuller understanding of their place in the our world - and by extension, the world of the play.

The Suzuki Method was created by Tadashi Suzuki, a director, writer, and theorist based in Toga, Toyama, Japan.  He created the Saratoge International Theatre Institute (SITI Company) with Anne Bogart, and his techniques are typically taught in conjunction with Viewpoints.

Suzuki is an eclectic, hybrid approach to performance, which derives much of its structure from the classical forms of Japanese Theatre - Noh and Kubuki. 

"Noh" or "Nogatu", derived from the Sino-Japanese word for "skill" or "talent", is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the 14th century.  Many characters are masked, with men playing male and female roles.

"Kabuki" is a classical Japanese dance-drama.  Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers.

Suzuki training is a rigorous physical and vocal regimen which centers on the relationship between human beings and the earth.  Actors are encouraged to foster this relationship by sending and receiving energy to and from the earth, using a series of exercises that include rhythmic stomping and ultra-slow movement.  Many of these exercises are focused on the lower body, and the best way to describe them to a lamen would be to say they're like slow-but-constant-moving yoga poses.

The goal of the training, which requires a high level of physical exertion and bodily control, is to sharpen the actor’s perceptive abilities and to realize the body’s full potential as a tool of theatrical expression.

Alexander Technique is a movement discipline with a focus on posture and physical self-perception, which aims to help students recognize and overcome harmful habitual limitations.  It was developed by Frederick Matthias Alexander in Australia in the 1890s as a personal tool to help him alleviate breathing problems and hoarseness that he'd developed, enacting Shakespeare's works.  It has extended as a widely regarded tool for public speaking, but has great application to acting as well.

Alexander surrounded himself with mirrors observed himself diligently after losing his voice and being told he was untreatable by doctors.  He learned that he was stiffening and elongating his neck in preparation to speech and began work to correct his posturing and develop physical relaxation.  In little time, he regained his voice and found that his oratory abilities vastly improved.

Alexander Technique has been used to treat everything from stuttering to post-surgical rehabilitation and post-traumatic stress disorder.  It is a hands-on technique best taught in private or small-group lessons.  The teacher analyzes the student’s everyday movement patterns (sitting, standing, walking, bending, reaching, etc.) - and helps him to overcome old, detrimental habits by releasing unnecessary muscular tension.

There are no set movements or exercises.   It is primarily a system of psycho-physical communication, so that students are urged to take a second and evaluate every movement in their everyday lives, giving their muscles the command to relax.  In this way, Alexander Technique is meant to be practiced throughout the day to build new habits of movement.  The lack of prescriptive exercises allows this practice to take place while doing any other activity - which is a large part of its appeal to actors (it can easily be used to address vocal or physical performance issues onstage, without breaking character or blocking).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Basics of Acting Technique: Part Four

This chapter addresses three of the newer American approaches to the training of an actor.  Obviously, there are a bunch more, but these ones made the popularity contest.

Uta Hagen's work revolves largely around scene study, so most of her teachings have more immediate and obvious application to acting.  As with many great teachers, she adapted over the years.  Her book, A Challenge for the Actor, is probably the most comprehensive self-written book on acting available.  Many of the great teachers were never quite as able as she was to express themselves on paper.  In the book, she details "Transference", rather than what she had originally referred to as "Substitutions" (which suggest replacing your scene partner) - the basic difference being that you're transferring the relationship you have with someone from your life onto the other actor, and then responding to the other person.

I can't remember where I read this, but I seem to remember Uta as having studied with Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman, and Herbert Berghof.  As with many master teachers, she didn't make her studies well known.  She let her extensive theatrical resume as an actor and director speak for her.  And much of what she did was to direct actors to better work.

As her training is based in scene-work, she spent much of her time defining practical tools for actors.  Her Private Moment Exercise (one of her early exercises) differs from Strasberg's in that she asks for two mundane minutes from everyday private life, rather than an activity you'd never share with your closest friend.  Its purpose is to help actors develop concentration in their work.

Other exercises include:
Developing the actor's physical destination in a role.
Making changes in the self, serviceable in the creation of a character.
Recreating physical sensations.
Bringing the outdoors on stage.
Finding occupation while waiting.
Talking to oneself and the audience.
Employing historical imagination.

She begins her film, Uta Hagen's Acting Class, by saying, "When I go to the theatre, if I can see any of the acting, I already don't like it.  But if the actors make me believe what they're saying and doing as really happening in front of me, I'm spellbound."  She believed in Presentational Acting (actually living through something onstage) as opposed to Representational Acting (showing a reality for the audience).

Students include:  Geraldine Page, Jason Robards, Matthew Broderick, Austin Pendleton, and Amanda Peet.

Larry Moss is a big proponent for the 'whatever works' school of acting.  He spent several years studying with Stella Adler, Harold Clurman, and Warren Robertson.  As he details in his book, The Intent to Live (also a nicely written book, describing his work), he developed a real understanding of himself and his instrument during his time studying, and he found that taking some from this person worked better for him and some from that person worked better for him.

In the years since his book was released, a great deal of actors have mistaken this to mean that they should learn the basics from each technique of acting, rather than to pick one and immerse themselves in it - which is what he did until he moved over to a new person. 

Much of his work is also focused on scene-study, and he spends much of his time coaching actors.  He mostly teaches professional intensives (where he directs scene-work) to give people tools of the trade to employ immediately into their onstage and onscreen work.  He derives many of the major exercises from Strasberg, Meisner, Adler, Clurman, Hagen, etc, and he places a great deal of importance on the size of an actor and Realistic Expression (as opposed to casual expression).  He also spends a lot of time with script analysis and interpretation.

Students include:  Helen Hunt, Hilary Swank, Michael Clark Duncan, Hank Azaria, Jim Carrey, Toby Maguire, and Leonardo Di Caprio.

David Mamet and William H. Macy created a system of training called Practical Aesthetics, based on the teachings of Stanislavski, Sanford Meisner, and the Stoic philosopher Epictetus. 

From Wikipedia:
Practical Aesthetics is based on the practice of breaking down a scene using a four-step analysis that entails the following:
1) The "Literal": The essential and most basic description of what is taking place.
2) The "Want": What does one character ultimately want the other character to say or do?
3) The "Essential Action": An evocative and relevant description of what the actor wants within the scene. It is essential to understand that what the character is doing and what the actor is doing are separate.
4) The "As If": This relates the "essential action" to the actor's own life.  This step is a memory device, a spark to involve the actor in the scene. It helps the actor escape the fiction, find the truth, and apply it elsewhere.

This technique is aimed at making the experience of acting entirely based on the will of the actor.  The Practical Aesthetic asks an actor only to commit his will to the pursuit of an action based on the other actor.

Famous practitioners of Practical Aesthetics include: William H Macy, Felicity Huffman, Scott Parker, Christopher Carley, Rose Byrne, Jessica Alba, Camryn Manheim, Clark Gregg, and Eddie Cahill.

**I think it's important to keep in mind that David Mamet studied with Sandy Meisner for eight years, when reading his thoughts on acting that he details in True or False and A Practical Handbook for the Actor.  So, although he suggests simply reading a scene, breaking it down, getting out of the way, and saying the lines, that is not really how he, himself, studied. 

And that's the subject of a whole new blog that will be out soon, so stay tuned for that and the conclusion to these conversations on the different approaches to the training of an actor.

Please comment.  Right here.  Right now.  :O)

To read other parts of this series, click here:  
Part One | Part Two | Part Three

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Basics of Acting Technique: Part Three - Why Train?

Now that I've gotten your heads spinning about acting techniques with the last two blogs (Part One and Part Two), let's take a step back for a moment to discuss some questions that are popping up.

I've written this post in response to a few recent comments - as well as a host of conversations I've been party to that basically boil down to a need for greater understanding as to the importance of training for actors. 

There is always evidence out there that it is possible to be a good actor without stepping foot into a classroom.  We tend to put these "natural talents" up on pedestals.  I remember that I used to make an argument for my laziness, which was based on the great performances exhibited by Ryan Gosling.  He's the ultimate on-the-job actor.  And he's just so wonderful - most of the time.  There's the first problem.  Talented as he is, he's pretty hit-and-miss.  And then there's the second problem, which I'll credit to David Gideon:

There is no such thing as a film performance.

Get it out of your head right now.  It doesn't exist.  Film is an editor's medium.  The actors do take after take after take to get the right shots, and then somebody strings them together.  I know that may sound obvious - and I'm not suggesting that there is no skill involved in film acting (because there is) -  but it is no great test of an actor to create a story fifteen seconds at a time. 

But let me address the real concern.  Is it possible to be a good actor without training?  Absolutely.  But how much better might you be if you learned how to overcome some of the personal habits that get in the way of your performances?  The training of an actor is not about being a good actor.  It's about building upon the skills that you already possess.  So, if you're 100% satisfied with your work and would rather not grow, then there is no reason to train.

That said, let me address another question that has come up.  Nobody should ever approach training as a new way of acting.  You can't paint by number.  You have to build your instrument the same way you would build your body at a gym.  If you spend an hour a day at the gym for a month, then it's likely that you will be able to carry your suitcase to the airport with much more ease.  If you build your actor's instrument, then you will be able to give into your work with much more ease onstage.

Another question that tends to come up when I talk to actors about technique is: "If everything is working and I'm free and open and in the moment, then I shouldn't need to go to technique, right?"  Absolutely.

But how do you know if you're free and open and in the moment?  Let's say that the very next moment, something happens and you close off - how do you address it?  Furthermore, how do you address it successfully eight times a week?  Because if you cross your fingers and hope for the best, you'll get it - half of the time.  So, it's my suggestion that you have a plan or plan to fail.

Lee Strasberg used to say, "You don't take an aspirin if you don't have a headache, but you keep it in the medicine cabinet just in case."  And that is how you should treat yourself as an artist - in this case, your acting technique is the aspirin.  If you wait until you have the job to build your artistic work in place, it's too late.

There are 640 muscles in the human body.  Every acting teacher talks about relaxation as the means towards good work.  To get in touch with 640 muscles on top of creative and situational work, talking and listening, keeping a stage energy, and telling a story is a HUGE UNDERTAKING. 

If you were a runner, preparing to run a marathon, you'd train up to it.  If you were a guitarist, trying to win an axe-contest, you'd learn some scales and practice up to it.  If you were a dancer, trying to make it into Swan Lake at Lincoln Center, you'd spend countless hours in classes.  And yet actors think they can learn on the job.  It's only slightly less ridiculous than a doctor, thinking he can learn the human anatomy as he goes.

We are fortunate.  There is a wealth of understanding that is already out there.  We don't have to find it ourselves.  Looking at acting on Broadway, it seems that all of the great insights from the behaviorists and geniuses like Constantin Stanislavski, Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman, Sandy Meisner, Uta Hagen, Stella Adler, etc. have gone by the wayside.  The popular opinion has gone back to the idea that talent is key.  And it's a really good start. 

But just as there is a whole lot more to medicine than having a generous heart, there is a whole lot more to acting than sensitivity. 

Stay tuned for the next two parts of this series, where we will discuss Viewpoints, Suzuki, Michael Chekhov, Uta Hagen, Larry Moss, and Atlantic Acting School.

This is the point where you should share your thoughts on the subject.  I'm not kidding.  Leave a comment.  Now.

To read other parts of this series, click here: Part One | Part Two

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Basics of Acting Technique: Part Two

This chapter focuses on the main Group Theatre teachers.  The aim is to offer simple explanations of the various methods of training for actors.  It is intended to open a conversation about craft.  Please pitch in some thoughts from your experience with this work.  We will answer any questions that arise in future blog posts.

Stella Adler's work is primarily focused on script analysis.  She instructed actors to use their imaginations and instincts to read into scripts to determine the author's intent.  She especially stressed the importance of actions ("prying," "cajoling," "seducing," etc.), insisting that actors create a library of actions to use within their work, and then to specifically state those actions to execute in scenework. 

She believed that the key to acting is in the choices an actor makes--and those choices are determined by the actions an actor creates.  She especially emphasized the importance of the size of an actor and economy of movement in performance.  She took exception to the trends toward naturalism in American acting.  Many of her exercises stressed the necessity for an actor to create an artistic life and well of experience to bring to the theatre. 

Students include:  Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Robert DeNiro, Candice Bergen, Mark Ruffalo, Benicio Del Toro, and Selma Hayek.

Sanford Meisner's work is based around an inter-dependent series of training exercises that build on one another.  The famous Repetition Exercise serves to help actors strengthen their observations, engage their instincts, stay in the moment, and to simply listen and respond.  Training is heavily based on actions and activities, and actors are encouraged to improvise heavily.  He stressed the importance of learning lines by rote, without inflection, so as not to memorize lines in a "line-reading". 

As students mature through his work, they get to know themselves and are urged to find actions that are compelling to their particular actors' instruments.  Actors prepare an emotional life through personalizations, daydreaming around the circumstances of a play, and paraphrasing the authors words and intentions to excite their own imaginations.  They are then urged to bring the spontaneity of their improvisational work to the author's text.  This allows them to create the given circumstances and come onto the stage "full."

Meisner especially emphasized doing, and actors are constantly asked to commit to specific tasks and objectives.  Actors learn to leave themselves alone and respond instinctively and truthfully under imaginary circumstances. 

Students include:  Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Grace Kelly, Naomi Watts, Gregory Peck, Sandra Bullock, and Jeff Bridges.

Lee Strasberg is the only teacher from the Group to focus on the process of the imagination - as in how to get the imagination out of the brain and into the body.  His insistence on the use of Sense Memory, which is a term interchangeable with "imagination," arose out of a common difficulty he observed - that most actors don't know how to imagine.  His classes are broken down into two parts: one to develop the actors' instrument, and the second to take that understanding into scenework.  Lee believed that it was not only necessary to relax in preparation, but also during the course of an actor's work. 

In Relaxation, students sit in hard chairs and are first taught how to relax their instruments, and then how to extend that relaxation into exercises and scenework.  Through Sensory Memory Exercises (Overall Sensations, Places, People, and Personal Objects), students learn how to activate their own imaginations.  Lee stressed the importance of Physical Activities in both exercises and scene-work, constantly asking actors to determine what they would be doing if the lines of a scene were not taking place.  The Private Moment Exercise is specifically designed to help students develop their skills of concentration and will-power.  The Song and Dance Exercise is specifically intended to simulate all aspects of performance other than imaginary circumstances, so that actors can learn how to develop expressive instruments. 

More advanced exercises include Animal Work and Character Work to develop the actor's ability to create characters outside of himself.  The infamous Affective Memory Exercise (which is the most talked about and least used of Strasberg's exercises) is the only piece of craft that is intended to create a specific emotional response.  Scenework is less about good performance and more about developing the skills learned in training for practical use.  Speaking out (or character improvisation) and Inner Monologue (the actor's thoughts) are used in scenework to help actors meld with their characters and keep their own instruments within their control.  Lastly, Entrances and Exits (a silent, three-part improvisation) helps an actor create work in the wings, simplify onstage storytelling, and actively communicate forward-moving intentions and destinations. 

Students include:  Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler, Robert Lewis, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Dustin Hoffman, Ellen Burstyn, Paul Newman, Kim Stanley, Gene Wilder, Barbra Streisand, Al Pacino, and David Gideon.

Future blog posts in this series will cover other newer or lesser known techniques used in the United States.

Your thoughts or questions? Please leave a comment below, and we'll be sure to respond.

To read other parts of this series, click here: Part One | Part Three

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Basics of Acting Technique: Part One

People ask us all the time to recommend classes and approaches to acting and explain the differences between techniques.  It seems to me that this information is difficult to find in one central place.  Even as I was doing my research, I had to look at at least 200 pages across a whole bunch of difference sources.  So, we've created this two-part series to demystify some of the major approaches to the training of an actor.

Please take a moment to notice the wording of the sentence I just wrote.  These are not different approaches to acting.  They are approaches to training the actor.  The school of thought belonging to Sandy Meisner and his disciples seems to suggest that his perspective on training especially highlights "Living truthfully under imaginary circumstances."  And it does...just as much as the work of Strasberg, Adler, Hagen, Stanislavski, Lewis, and everyone else does.  Even Shakespeare offered the same concepts in his advice to the players (more on that in a future post).  These are not new ideas.  We can all agree that the theatre is best when the stage is alive, right?  Even if it's coming from a more external approach, there are still the nights when the imagination is alive and everything feels inspired.  Even the most external of actors covet those evenings.  Therefore, these are not different approaches to acting.  What IS the difference, then? 

The manner in which the actor is trained.

Let me start with a simple piece of history that should boil this down easily.  Constantin Stanislavski is wildly considered to be the Father of Modern Acting.  In the late 1800s, he interviewed all sorts of great, yet inconsistent, actors to try to understand what people did on the nights things came easily alive for them as opposed to the nights when things fell flat.  Inspired by the behaviorists (Sigmund Freud, et al) and a great number of artists at that time coming together to understand psychology and physiology (Martha Graham, Pablo Picasso, and a bunch of others), he went about discovering how actors could create more consistency in their onstage work.  One of the largest defining factors that he noted in great actors was that they seemed to all be relaxed during times of inspiration.  He created a school, then the Moscow Art Theatre.  In 1923, the Moscow Art Theatre sent out a bunch of different troupes of actors to share their work with the world.  Michael Redgrave studied with the English troupe and began to teach there.  Richard Boleslawski and Maria Uspenskaya (from the US extension) stayed behind in New York to teach.  Lee Strasberg studied with them and then began to build on the ideas he'd learned from them while he taught the things he had learned to The Group Theatre.  Lee Strasberg is referred to as the Father of Method Acting in America. 

The first major distinction between Lee Strasberg and all of the other American teachers that came out of The Group Theatre is:  he was their teacher.  So, Lee taught Sandford Meisner, Stella Adler, Harold Clurman, Robert Lewis, and Elia Kazan.  That group of teachers taught Herbert Berghoff, Uta Hagen, Larry Moss, Eric Morris, Margie Haber, David Mamet, Larry Silverberg, Susan Batson, Milton Katselas, Terry Schreiber, Michael Howard, William Esper, Howard Fine, Wynn Handman, Austin Pendleton, Maggie Flanigan, Ron Burrus, Harold Guskin, Susan Grace Cohen, David Gideon, and a whole slew of others. 

There are a few other current master teachers that didn't study with this group (Ivana Chubbuck, Ron Van Lieu, etc), but they can mostly be traced back to Stanislavski by way of Michael Chekhov, Yevgeny Vakhtangov, and Vsevolod Meyerhold.  And no, they were not all teaching the same thing or the same way of going about reality, but they were all still looking for the same end result. 

The major notable exceptions to this group of teachers are Tadashi Suzuki, Jerzy Grotowski, and Anne Bogart (Viewpoints).  Peter Brook comes out of Grotowski's work.  In a nutshell, these are all movement-based methods of understanding the actor's instrument.  A lot of this work has been used in less realistic approaches to theatre, but the goal of training remains the same: for the actor to understand himself so that he may use himself in his art. 

There are also a whole bunch of theorists, who talk about a craft of acting, but they aren't really teachers in the traditional sense.  Those include(ed) George Bernard Shaw, Anton Artaud, Declan Donnellan, William Ball, Bertolt Brecht, etc.  Most of them are theater-makers, who talk about how theater should be done, and how scripts should be analyzed.  They touch on the actor dealing with his or her own instrument, and they still agree on the simple fact that a good acting stems from human beings with an understanding of themselves.

That's a basic lineage to the craft of acting.  Stay tuned.  In the next part, we'll break down some of the larger American approaches, including the work of Lee Strasberg, Uta Hagen, Sandy Meisner, Stella Adler, and Anne Bogart/Tadashi Suzuki.  We'll also include Michael Chekhov and Constantin Stanislavski because their work is taught heavily in the US as well.  

Let us know if there's anyone else you'd like us to discuss by leaving a comment below.

To read other parts of this series, click here:  Part Two | Part Three