The Art of Acting: A Study of Methods

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The Art of Acting: A Study of Methods A Research Study I. THE PROBLEM The art of the stage actor is the most subjective, abstract process of all the arts. Musicians, painters, and dancers all have to develop a technique that is rooted in aesthetic tradition and proven by the masters of their fields. Historically, the techniques of great actors have not been expressed in written form, and their performances lost after the moment of their occurrence. There is, of course, a reason for this lack of information. Actors are dealing with the most elusive and transient medium possible- human emotions. The idea that one should have something as organized as a "technique" or "method" for dealing with these emotions seems somewhat contradictory. But that is what makes the theater art- the marriage of emotion and intellect, the ability to use our humanity in a meaningful way. The purpose of this study is to examine the ideas of several of the most influential teachers of acting. Constantin Stanislavskiwas really the first to map out a definite method that can be employed in specific ways for any given role. He revolutionized the way we think of acting, but he was only the beginning. Many brilliant thinkers have since shed light on this most mysterious art form. Many have branched off from Stanislavski’s ideas, some have developed their own acting language, and others claim to be anti- method. Based on the review of the available data, the writer concludes that an acting technique is absolutely essential for the actor’s continued growth as an artist; and that no one particular method is the best or holds all the answers. It is the responsibility of each actor to examine the techniques, and make informed decisions, in... ... middle of paper ... ...ons for the Professional Actor. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Performing Arts Publications Journal, 1985. Chekhov, Michael. To the Actor. New York: Harper & Row, 1953. Ed. Dixon, Michael Bigelow and Smith, Joel A. Anne Bogart: Viewpoints. Smith and Kraus, 1995. Hagen, Uta. A Challenge for the Actor. New York: Scribner, 1991. Ed. Hethmon, Robert H. Strasberg at the Actors Studio. New York: Theater Communications Group, Inc.,1965. Mamet, David. True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor. New York: Vintage Books, 1997. Stanislavski, Constantin. My Life in Art. New York: Theater Art Books, 1952. Strasberg, Lee. A Dream of Passion: The Development of the Method. Canada: Little, Brown & Co., 1987. Ed. Willet, John. Brecht on Theater: The Development of an Aesthetic. New York: Hill and Wang, 1992.
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