Acting Approaches - Hart Theatre Arts 1A & 1B

Acting Approaches
Theatre Arts 1B
• 1. Relaxation. Learning to relax the muscles and eliminate
physical tension while performing.
• 2. Concentration. Learning to think like an actor and to
respond to one’s own imagination.
• 3. Work with the senses. Discovering the sensory base of
the work: learning to memorize and recall sensations, often
called “sense memory” and /or “affective memory”;
learning to work from a small sensation and expand it, a
technique Stanislavski called “spheres of attention”.
• 4. Sense of truth. Learning to tell the difference between
the organic and the artificial. Stanislavski believed that there
were natural laws of acting, which were to be obeyed.
Given Circumstances. Developing the ability to use previous
four skills to create the world of the play (the circumstances given in
the text) through true and organic means.
Contact and communication. Developing the ability to interact
with other performers spontaneously, and with an audience, without
violating the world of the play.
Units and objectives. Learning to divide the role into sensible
units that can be worked on individually, and developing the ability to
define each unit of the role by an active goal desired by the character
rather than as an entirely literary idea.
Logic and believability. Discovering how to be certain that the
sum of the combined objectives are consistent and coherent and that
they are in line with the play as a whole.
Work with the text. Developing the ability to uncover the
social, political, and artistic meaning of the text, and seeing that these
ideas are contained within the performance.
The creative state of mind. An automatic culmination of all the
previous steps.
Constantine Stanislavski
Sanford Meisner
• Meisner Training is an interdependent series of exercises that build
upon each other. The basic exercises are critical for later ones, and
the more complex work is used, in turn, to support a command of
actual dramatic text.
• Meisner students work on a series of increasingly complex
exercises designed to develop an ability first to improvise, then to
access an emotional life, and finally to bring the spontaneity of
improvisation and the richness of personal response to scripted text.
The technique builds upon teachings of Konstantin Stanislavski
(father of the Stanislavski System and grandfather of the elusive
American "Method"). Emphasizing "moment-to-moment"
spontaneity through communion with other actors allows adherents
to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances.
Some prominent actors who trained at The Neighborhood Playhouse in t
Meisner technique are:
Robert Duvall
Allison Janney
Jon Voight
Joan Allen
Christine Lahti
Diane Keaton
Mary Steenburgen
David Mamet
Jeff Goldblum
Grace Kelly
Gregory Peck
Joanne Woodward
Dermot Mulroney
James Caan
Sydney Pollack
Mark Rydell
Kim Basinger
Tom Cruise
Philip Seymour Hoffman
William H. Macy
Lee Strasburg
• With Harold Clurman co-founded the Group
theatre which became the center for American
acting technique based on Stanislavki’s method.
Meisner was also a member
• Became head of the Actor’s Studio in 1949 which
became the training ground for the greatest
American actors of the 20th Century.
Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof
Herbert Berghof
Herbert Berghof (1909-1990) was born in Austria and
graduated from both the University of Vienna and the Vienna
State Academy of Dramatic Art. A protégé of Max Reinhardt,
he performed with the St. Gallen Repertory Theater in
Switzerland and the Volkstheater in Vienna. Berghof fled
Vienna when the Nazis began their reign in Austria, coming to
New York City in 1939, where he joined Erwin Piscator at The
New School for Social Research. He made his Broadway debut
in FROM VIENNA, one of the many cabaret-style shows
created and performed by and for exiled Austrian refugees.
Uta Hagen
Uta Hagen (1919-2004) was born in Germany and raised in
Madison, Wisconsin. She made her professional debut in 1937,
in Dennis, Massachusetts, as Ophelia in Eva Le Gallienne’s
production of HAMLET. In 1938, still in her eighteenth year, she
made her Broadway debut as Nina in the Lunts’ storied
production of Chekhov’s THE SEA GULL. Her many credits
include starring roles on Broadway in KEY LARGO, THE
DESIRE with Anthony Quinn and played Desdemona in
OTHELLO with Paul Robeson and Jose Ferrer.
Hagen and Berghof met in 1947 in a production of THE WHOLE
WORLD OVER directed by Harold Clurman. She joined the
faculty of HB Studio that fall and the two were married ten years.
She taught at HB Studio, a well-known New York City acting
school, starting in 1957, and married its co-founder, Herbert
Berghof, on January 25, 1957. After his death in 1990 she became
the school's chairperson.
Ms. Hagen was an influential acting teacher who taught, among
others, Matthew Broderick, Christine Lahti, Jason Robards,
Sigourney Weaver, Liza Minnelli, Whoopi Goldberg, Jack
Lemmon, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. While being profiled in
Premiere Magazine, actress Amanda Peet said of her mentor
Hagen, that she was a woman whose class you didn't want to miss.
Stella Adler
Was only American Actor trained by Stanislavsky himself
Was original member of group theatre but was in conflict with Strasburg over
details of “method.”
Adler's biggest issue with Strasberg was over the issue of whether an
actor should use the technique of substitution, recalling personal
experience for a believable result, or living in the moment, using your
partner to create a believable result.
Actors who trained with Adler are:Among her students were Marlon
Brando, Robert De Niro, Warren Beatty, Elaine Stritch, Mario
Van Peebles, Harvey Keitel, Benecia Del Toro and Candice
Acting Innovators Test
1. List five of the ten characteristics of
Stanislavski’s training technique
2. Which teacher focuses on listening as the
primary goal of the actor
3. Which teacher trained total sense memory to the
extent of re-experiencing past experiences to
play a role
4. Which was the only trainer to actually work with
Stanislavsky and broke away from the group to
do her own technique toward method acting