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9 acting techniques all actors MUST know

Studying the art of acting techniques does take a long time, it’s all about commitment and being open to learning important techniques. You will want to continually learn and develop, and it makes you step out of your comfort zone to really improve as an actor and become the best possible actor you can imagine.

There is no one technique or path an actor must follow. Many follow multiple and hone their skills to develop a unique acting ability to themselves.

Here we take a look at the most popular acting techniques:

The 9 acting techniques, all actors MUST know:

  1. Classical acting – Stanislavski’s acting technique
  2. Uta Hagen’s realism technique
  3. Meisner technique
  4. Lee Strasberg’s technique
  5. Michael Chekhov technique
  6. Method acting
  7. Stella Adler
  8. Practical Aesthetics technique
  9. Viola Spolin’s – “theatre games”

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1. Classical acting – Stanislavski’s acting technique

Classical acting is an acting technique created by Constantin Stanislavski. This method is very much a systematic approach to acting which focuses on voice, physical, dramatic analysis, emotion, memory, and observation.

Stanislavski’s style of theatre was very much of the idea that you pick and choose the areas of focus to mold to your own acting ability and really mould your own style picking and choosing different aspects to add to your skillset.

The Stanislavski acting method is known for using the actor’s feelings and experiences to put into the character, to really portray the character’s feelings to the truest level.

Read this book: An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavski

2. Uta Hagen’s realism technique

Acting Techniques - Uta HagenThe realism technique is an interesting one, submerging yourself within acting techniques. It’s all about building deeper connections with your character and building a much deeper truth. This means you as an actor will transfer your open thoughts, feelings, and experiences into the characters building a realistic view and performance of the character. 

Read this book: Respect for Acting

3. Meisner Technique

Sanford Meisner
Sanford Meisner

The Meisner technique is based on the truth of acting. Meisner created this around the actor living truthfully when portraying an actor’s internal and external actions, to give a lifelike, believable character that the audience would love to see more of.

The most memorable exercise from Meisner is the repetition exercise. Where two people face each other and repeat a sentence. The sentence changes in tone and it allows the actors to respond in a unique, and natural way as there are no line readings or forgetting lines – it’s a simple sentence repeated back and forth.

Read this book: Sanford Meisner on Acting

4. Lee Strasberg’s technique

Lee Strasberg’s method is all-around actors intensifying their connection to their character within their day to day lives, slowly adding little parts as they go on, submerging their character. By doing this the actor will have a greater understanding of their character, how they think, what they like, what they don’t like, and how they interact.

We’ll dig deeper into method acting down the list.

Read this book: The Lee Strasberg Notes

5. Michael Chekhov technique

Chekhov’s technique is a “psycho-physical” technique that draws the physical actions of the body to the mind and develops a sensual approach to acting.

With the Chekhov acting technique, the actor focuses on the internal problem the character is experiencing, rather than the outward-facing expression of the emotion in terms of movement. The actor physicalises the internal need, allowing the physical expression to be performed on an unconscious level. This method brings out a lot of truth and realism to the character.

Fun fact, Chekov was actually a student of Stanislavski’s and Chekov’s method of acting has been added to the Stanislavski system.

Read this book: To the Actor: On the Technique of Acting

READ MORE: The best acting books: 5 books all actors MUST read

6. Method acting

Method actingMethod acting sits close to the teachings of Sanford Meisner and Lee Strasberg. It’s credited to Lee Strasberg but it is a stalwart in the way Meisner and Adler both teach.

Method acting is all about drawing personal connections from your feelings and experiences to the character. This creates a lifelike and realistic portrayal of the character using sensory memory.

The method acting technique will force actors to imagine themselves as the character and develop the thoughts and actions of the character in intricate detail for their performance.

Read this book: The Method Acting Handbook

7. Stella Adler

Stella Adler’s acting method of teaching is linked to the above (Method acting) as she was a student of Strasberg. However, her method does differ. Stella’s was focused on imagination, creating a world within the actor’s mind. The emotional recall is included but imagination overcomes that.

It’s about using personal experiences and actions but then adding to them, exaggerating and growing what has happened to you to create a heightened performance.

The Adler acting method one of the powerful acting techniques but get’s impressive results.

Read this book: Stella Adler: The Art of Acting

8. Practical Aesthetics technique

Practical ActingPractical Aesthetics acting technique is split into two pieces. Think before you act and act before you think. The classes focus on the analysis of the script and breaking it down into smaller pieces.

As an actor you break down the script into the following:

  • Literal
  • Want
  • Essential Action
  • As If

This method is to highlight the action and is based on the actor rather than the character.

Read this book: A Practical Handbook for the Actor

9. Viola Spolin’s – “theatre games”

Viola Spolins “Theatre Games” method is all about living in the moment, to act and react spontaneously. Viola’s method is focused on self-direction and spontaneity, it’s often used at the start of acting classes as a warm-up to get everyone focused a ready. The idea around the spontaneity is to give realism to the character that the actor is portraying, acting and reacting with real conviction and realism.

Read this book: Improvisation for the Theater

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