When watching a movie how well you connect with the characters. While we have discussed many factors in screen writing and characterization in the previous Friday Fundas we would look at acting performance by the actor itself. Even though the characterization and environment are perfect if an actor does not act convincingly audience would find it to be clichéd and not connect with it. There are many theories on acting. In this week’s Friday Fundas we would see once such theory which is popular in acting technique known as Method Acting.
Method acting in short relates to a group of techniques using which the actors get into the shoes of the characters they play by establishing an emotional connect with them. These techniques are based on the teachings and concepts of Constanin Stanilavski. His ideas had been adapted by many prominent teachers like Lee Strasberg, Robert Lewis, Sandord Meisner and Stella Adler.
Lee Starsberg’s method acting involved in the use of sensory and affective memory of the actor to bring out the character. He used techniques which involved the actors in imagining a similar emotional situation in their personal life and then enacting it on the screen. Starsberg used the question “What would motivate me, the actor, to behave in a way the character does?”
Sanford Meisner used a different technique in which he devised a technique called as Meisner technique. In this he advocates the actors to immerse themselves in the moment. He found just relying on their personal experiences is very limiting and only allows them to only focus on themselves but not on other characters on the set. His technique helped in overcoming this aspect. He used to run exercises that would enhance the interpersonal connect of the answers in a scene.
Robert Lewis believed the acting cannot be just bought out by focusing on the emotional act but it also involved in training the voice that would suit to the situation. If these are trained separately the output may not be effective.
Stella Adler was an actress herself and she had some of the actors who went onto become some of the greatest actors including Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro and Warren Beaty. She trained directly under Stanilavski which helped her in perfecting the technique a lot better. In her Method acting technique she used the personal memories of the actors as did Starsberg. But along with this she let them practice on creating an “as if” imagination. The actors had to imagine as if they were really in the given situation. This helped them in bringing out the emotions very effectively.
Some of the famous actors who practiced this technique are Christian Bale, Jack Nicholson, Marilyn Monroe, Danny Day Lewis, Al Pacino, Heath Ledger and many more. Not only Hollywood actors but also many of the Indian acting stalwarts like Kamal Haasan, Mammootty, Dilip Kumar and Naseeruddin Shah practice this technique. Now you would be able to appreciate the efforts Heath Ledger has put in for the Joker character much more.
An actor needs to do a lot of homework to get the act right if not the audience would not connect with the character and with the movie.