Method Acting Essay, Research Paper
Jennifer Farrell 101496
There are many diverse methods and approaches to acting , each actor uses the
things he has learned and creates his own unique way of playing and interpreting a role.
Using the things he has learned, he can find his own weaknesses and strong points and
therefore creating this method that belongs to him only. But before the actor can learn his
own method, he must study many other methods to the approach of acting. There are
many different methods of acting.
One of the many methods is called presentational acting. When using this
approach, an actor will study his character and “present” the character by mimicking the
actions this character would make, along with the character’s speech, tones, gestures, and
mannerisms. Sometimes an actor using this method will actually “feel” the character’s
emotions. An actor must develop this character during the rehearsal’s so that he can
reproduce the same effects for the performance and know how to stay focused and remain
in control of the characters actions and knowing what to expect. This method requires
much attention to voice and movement, the major tools used in this method.
Another method is called representational acting. In this method, the actor
actually tries to put himself in the character’s place, feeling what the character would feel,
and experiencing his thoughts and emotions. Even though movement is important in this
method, more emphasis is put on the actual feelings and emotions, as though you really
were in this character’s place. Internal portrayal is very important while portraying a
character using this method.
In contrasting the two methods, it comes down to the fact that when using
representational acting, an actor uses the psychological feelings and emotions of the
character; in presentational acting, an actor uses the gestures, words, and mannerisms,
portraying the external characteristics of a role. Both methods present the truth in each
character, both observations of nature, and both breathe life into a character on stage.
The goals are the same for both methods, that is to make the character become alive on
the stage, to let the audience experience the features of the character and really know who
the character is. These methods differ only in the way that they make it happen.
Presentational acting mimics what it sees in nature, while representational tries to recreate
what has happened.
While each approach to acting is just as good as the other, many people argue
about which is superior. Some people say that a person who acts using the presentational
method would be suited better in portraying a period play, while an representational actor
would be better off in a modern play. Then you find an presentational actor saying that he
can portray a modern character, just as a representational actor says that he can do period
plays. It seems that there are many opinions surrounding the abilities of the actors of each
An actor will take things that he likes from different methods and discard what he
doesn’t like until he can come up with his own system of acting. While it helps to know
different kinds of techniques, an actor must take much time to study each, for an actor will
become confused by throwing different methods together at once. An analogy of this
would be it you had a beginning painter and you taught him how to apply paint several
different ways all at one time, there would be an odd mixture of strokes, taking away from
the true idea of the painting. One must take there time in order to create the perfect
method for themselves.
While the aim of all actors is the same, the approach is different for each actor.
There goal is to put on a performance where the audience will believe the story and
become involved. This does put on a problem though, unlike other types of artists, actors
cannot just do what they want, they must decide along with the other actors how to put on
the play. A cast is more like a team, all working for one goal, but each getting there in
they’re own way. If a cast doesn’t function as a team, than a performance won’t get to the
goal of getting the audience to believe that it is real.
There are many factors that can affect the performance of an actor. One of these is
the physical aspect of the playhouse. An actor must adjust to the size of the theater, the
light and how to make his performance as strong in certain conditions. Another
adjustment is the different styles in the material that an actor uses. Characters change as
well as the changes in the writing style. The theater allows a playwright to experiment
with new ways to interpret to the audience the characters that he portrays in his writings.
Drama has changed to and expression of experience, from drama as a story.
Aristotle had a contention that plot is the most important element in drama, however,
most playwrights don’t support this as much as they do dialogue and characterization as
the main elements of drama. The focus of play’s have gone from using characters to tell a
story, to trying to reach the inner thoughts, feelings, and fears of each character, to find
out what makes each character tick, what there motivations are, and how to make it clear
to the audience how to understand each one, to see them as people, rather than a pawn in
pattern of predictable behavior.
Ibsen and Strindberg are considered to have begun the era of modern drama.
They’re plays were perceived as “superb demonstrations of character revelation and
insight.” There plays were the beginning of a new world. Many things were going on at
that time, and the characteristics in their play’s seemed to have the same feel as the feelings
of the people who were living through that time. By observing nature, they could find
truth in each character, bringing it to life.