These are the teachings and concepts developed by Constantin Stanislavski, the father of acting started around 1911.
In the dramatic arts, the objective of 'Method Acting' is how actors should create in themselves the thoughts and feelings of their characters (of the script/story), so as to develop lifelike performances. This is done by a group of specific techniques.
Among Bollywood actor who learnt Method acting techniques are Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Varun Dhawan.
“I learnt a lot working with Nawazuddin. He’s a method actor and I enjoyed working it him. It’s always great to work with such talented people,” Varun told IANS (Indianexpress.com). Another actor is Sidharth Malhotra to name a few. Of course, there are others who periodically attend method acting workshops in USA or UK
There are 3 main versions of 'Method Acting' developed later
Strasberg, Adler, and Meisner.
He was an advocate of what's called affective memory and substitution. This is using past emotions or your own experiences to generate current emotions. Some famous Hollywood stars who studied this version of Method were/are James Dean, Marilynn Monroe, Al Pacino, Paul Newman.
2. Stella Adler
She was Stanislavski disciple who studied alongside Strasberg at the Group Theatre in NY and later went to Europe to study with Stanislavski. Stella went back to the U.S.
3. Sanford Meisner
He also studied at the Group Theatre in US and also wasn't a fan “affective memory and substitution’ so he formed his own version which focuses more on instincts and reacting to the moment based on a simple technique of “Listening”. He defined acting as "living in imaginary circumstances." Some big Hollywood celebrities who use Meisner are/were Gregory Peck, Robert Duvall, Steven McQueen, Jon Voight, Jeff Goldblum, just to name a few.
Study and get yourself coached on all three major branches and find out which one suits you.
I’m not a big fan of the popular concepts of Method Acting. I don’t believe that an actor can become a character. If you become totally the character (say Emperor Akbar), you may mess up! In fact, it will be dangerous if the actors start becoming the character. Why? Because if you struggle to be or copying a character in you with the traits which not a part of you, it may look as if you are trying to fake it and the camera will catch and so the audience
- I'm an Adler and Meisner guy with due regards to ‘Method Acting’.
- You would love Adler if you are good at using your imagination and thus, feel yourself at the best for when a director wants you to offer options or to improvise a scene or a character. Please remember, 'the power of imagination' can be learnt
- I find Meisner effective for creating a scene with my partner if my partner is really a good actor. I didn't have in my memory a messed up past life from where I can recollect sadness and crying instances, intense happiness with different types of laughter, anger, distaste, different types of love, chivalry and so on. I agree with Stella Adler and Meisner that emotional memory and substitution aren't honest enough.
- I believe and that’s the way I coach my students that Before they were exposed to any technique, their acting programs included a limited number of generalized improvisational exercises. (Playing a scene without a written script)
- Finally, my suggestion would be to learn at least 3 acting techniques mentioned above. Then create your own method and style to play a character after you have done a character analysis of the script and created a new human.
- Don’t forget yourself. Bring to the role (You intend playing), that part of yourself that are coinciding with what is written and shelve (drop) those parts of you that are wrong for the role. Use only those parts of you which you can use comfortably without struggling too hard to make you tense or just faking it.
- My simple logic is you are acting for the camera and not giving a live show. You have to be in a character as well as in yourself. You cannot submerge yourself totally in a character because of technical aspects of filming like various limitations of multiple shots and camera angles to name a few. A good cine actor should be like an electric switch to be instantly ‘On’ and ‘Off’ between a character and self. Therefore, create your acting method after taking the best of the above explained methods.
To You, the Best
Kiran Pande is the chief coach at Bollywood Best Actor Academy, Mumbai