Does anyone know of a good overview (web article or forum post) that compares and contrasts acting methods at a high level? I don't know the first thing about Meisner, Adler, Stanislavski, method, etc. I'm not trying to learn how to act. I just want to have situational awareness as I help my daughter with her career.
Stanislavski is the father of Western acting... but we Americans had our own gurus...
Sanford Meisner believed in DOING. Acting based acting is very Meisner. Also, a lot of focusing on the other person.
Stella Adler was heavy, I believe, on imagination. Discover the world of the story and all that jazz.
Lee Strasberg believed relying on memory and personal experiences could get you into the character best.
Method Acting comes from Russian actor, Constatin Stanislavksy. His teachings have greatly influenced pretty much all of Western acting in general. He taught the importance of preparing yourself both internally and externally to become the character and give a realistic performance.
His teachings (or his initial teachings at that time) were brought to the U.S. by students Richard Boleslavsky and Maria Ouspenskaya who taught members of the Group Theatre. Three of the members were Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and Sandford Meisner.
Strasberg taught emotional memory which is using your past memories to generate current emotions and substitution. This branch is often called Method because Strasberg had publicists.
Some notable Strasberg people:
Stella Adler focused on using your imagination. She did NOT teach emotional memory nor substitution. She was the ONLY one of the three great American teachers who actually studied with Stanislavsky. When she studied with him, Stanislavsky was NO longer doing emotional memory or substation but focusing on imagination, so she came back to the U.S. saying that Strasberg was wrong.
-Robert De Niro
-Benicio Del Toro
Meisner like Adler did NOT agree with emotional memory and substitution. However, on his own, he came up with a method that focused on listening and reacting off of the other person to be more present:
That's excellent. Thank you! A few followup questions:
Stanislavski in his later years stopped using past experiences or substitution to generate current emotions. He realized that it didn't always work for everyone because time heals. He was now using imagination instead. Stella Adler actually got to study with him in Europe and learned this and came back saying "we got it wrong!"
The big three still have a place in acting today. Listening and reacting are a HUGE part of acting and Meisner is obviously very popular because he created exercises to help you be great at that. However, Meisner isn't always effective during auditions, because the reader most of the time doesn't give you anything to react off of. For auditions, Adler can come in handy because you can use your imagination to create the person you're talking to during the audition and be able have someone react off of. Strasberg has some great relaxation exercises and some people do find his method useful.
Uta Hagen can be considered Strasberg-lite. She did advocate substitution and emotional memory but only in preparation.
All good info given here. All approaches discussed in this thread are offsprings of Stanislavski. (Each teacher took it in his/her own direction.)
For a detailed discussion of acting methods, there is the book "Five Approaches to Acting" by David Kaplan. (It includes an extensive discussion on the development of Stanislavski's method in America, including how and why it took different directions, as well as other approaches.)
In my experience, an actor eventually discovers what method (or, more likely, what combination of methods) works best for him/her.
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