Method Acting Defined

Recently I was asked by a student what I meant when I referred to Method Acting. Realizing this is a vast area with many connotations this is a first attempt at reigning in a huge subject hopefully it has meaning and relevance to the reader.

Method Acting has many interpretations in its simplest form it might be expressed as a series of craft processes, which allow an actor to achieve emotional truth in the role being played.

One measure of a good story is its inherent capacity to keep us wanting to know what happens next. This desire to want to know what happens next is experienced as a deep form of engagement. Method Acting strives to create an emotionally believable performance where the audience does not question the veracity or truthfulness of the role being played within the context of the story. Disbelief is suspended as the viewer rarely forgets a fiction is being witnessed, however to facilitate the deepest level of engagement possible, Method Acting strives to create the most believable performance through a deep connection to the emotional truth of the story experience.

It is my understanding that as one musical instrument resonates with a note or chord then other musical instruments nearby also vibrate or resonate with that frequency. So it is with method based acting or method based story telling as a witness to a believable performance or an emotionally true performance we are more likely to resonate with the frequency and come to empathise, relate and understand at a deeply engaged level.  

This can sometimes be tested when no words are spoken yet we know exactly what is happening in the context of the story. Method Acting assists humanity understand itself as it strives to achieve universal recognition of the human condition. For actors to work effectively in this way we observe what I have begun to call a Working State of Intimacy. To achieve this state of intimacy as actors we need to be confident in taking energetic risks, engaging at a level where the discomfort of the unknown and the uncertain, pulse through us as creative necessity.

Intimacy at an energetic and instrumental level can be defined as: 'the lived experience' of true human connection: a conscious choice to integrate with a partner of partners who are in touch with and are connecting to now, in this moment.

A working state of intimacy is an act of unconditional generosity: each actor uttering - "I am for you".

©2004 Martin Challis

For more commentary and articles by Martin Challis, check the Archives.

Martin Challis is an actor and director "down under" in Australia.
He recently  commenced a coursework Doctorate in Creative Industries
developing projects such as The Raw Theatre and Training Company.
He's also the director of the Studio For Actors and Ensemble Works. 
And... he has a sailing boat!



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