Finding Real Emotion With Method Acting

Many actors pretend the emotions that their characters are feeling while others bring the real thing to their performance.

When there is an actor who is faking the emotions that their characters are feeling, there is always an element of disbelief. Actors who pretend to feel what their characters are feeling are very apparent to the audience that is watching the performance. This can take a great deal of genuineness from the entire production when the actors use this approach in their performance.

When method acting is used, however, there is a feeling of realism that is created by the actors in the performance. There are many acting coaches that teach this style of acting to their students. This helps to create actors who understand the truth of real emotion in their performances.

In 1931, the Group Theater was created by Lee Strasberg, Cheryl Crawford and Harold Clurman. The Group Theater was designed to present a unified approach to performing the plays of that time. There was to be no star in the company and all of the actors were part of a movement that would achieve success for every member of the company.

Some of the members who were a part of the Group Theater were Kurt Weill, Lee J. Cobb, Paul Strand, Paul Green, Clifford Odets, Michael Gordon, John Randolph, Joseph Bromberg, Franchot Tone, Will Geer, Howard Da Silva, Luther Adler, Stella Adler, John Garfield, and Elia Kazan.

It is with this company of actors that Lee Strasberg developed the method of acting that later was to be called the Method. The inspiration for this style of acting came from the work of Konstantin Stanislavsky. The actors are taught during rehearsal to bring real emotion into their performance by calling up the experiences of their own life.

This method of discovering real emotions and experiences is done through the act of improvisation.

Through the years, the Method has gone through many incarnations as it has been passed through the hands of different acting coaches. Acting coaches add their own personalization to the method to get the best performances out of their students.

The Method has given some very stilted and guarded actors a way to bring the truth of emotion into their performances. The intense exercises are designed to help the actor open up and add some emotion into their performance without pretending the emotion.

The exercises that the Method uses will help the actor to draw upon their own life experiences for the emotions that their characters are feeling in the scene they are performing. It is about moving from a state of being into a state of emotion and then using that state to perform the scene. When an audience watches an actor who is using this technique the performances can be powerful and raw. There is genuine emotion behind the acting.

The Method is not something that is learned and finished. The act of learning the Method is something that the actor will continue for the rest of their career. It is a process of learning to tap into the life experiences that everyone has and using them in the performance.

Once the Method is learned the actor will be able to use the exercises in whatever performance they are doing at any time.

This method changes the performance from an acting performance into an art form. The artist is always able to put his or her own passion and emotion into the performance while the actor simply pretends.

Roy Eisenstein is a veteran of comedy and hidden camera reality television, who has made a career of developing and pioneering comedy vehicles that shape the genre.

Eisenstein is an acting coach and mentor, and has taught in Hollywood and abroad at the IAFT, a film school in the Philippines.