In a nutshell, acting technique is what works for you as an actor to accomplish a believable performance. Technique is also the ability to generously interact with other actors to create a believable environment. Sound simple? Well, it is a bit of an oversimplification because one person’s technique can be another’s folly. Until you study established techniques, derived from a “master’s” years of study and analysis of the art form, try them, and then compare them, it’s pretty difficult to know what is going to work for you.
Techniques usually bear the name of the actor or director who has taken the time to develop and document a “system.” Probably the most widely known is Constantin Stanislavski who spawned acting systems by many original devotees. Names you will often hear bantered about when actors are discussing their training are Richard Boleslawski, Lee Strasberg, Sandy Meisner, Uta Hagen, Stella Adler, Viola Spolin, David Mamet, and more recently Ivana Chubbuck, and by the way, the list goes on. The common thread among all of these great teachers and their technique is Stanislavski. They have all studied his system, moved on to study others, worked professionally and went on to implement their own technique to teach others.
Over the years professional actors develop their self-knowledge to a point where they are in tune with themselves and their fellow actors. Some actors must work from the inside out. Others prefer a purely physical approach to their work, some advocate a text based approach working only with the what the play/screenwriter gives them, while still others use a combination of the three. And the beauty of it all? Actors from many varying backgrounds can work seamlessly together in one grand choreography creating a landscape that transcends technique. You see, the best technique is something that is always there, but never seen.
How do you know which technique is right for you? You won’t until you get started. US Performing Arts offers many techniques within its acting programs and for pre-college through college sophomore years that’s a great way to experience the foundations of these systems. Within the structure of these intensive acting programs students are exposed to the rigors of the techniques of the great master teachers and their “textbooks.” To perfect the acting journey through the exercises of Stanislavski, Strasberg, Meisner, Hagen, Spolin and Mamet is to whet the appetite of the next generation artist to aspire to greatness!