Universal Film Magazine issue 3 of 2012

Page 55

Universal Film Issue 3 of 2012

Contuined from last edition


n my previous article, “Scenes of The Method-ological Nature: ACT ONE,” I explored the conception of the Method as an acting process/system by Constantin Stanislavki (18631938), how it related to other ideas from the humanistic movement of the time, such as the development of person-centred counselling by Carl Rogers (1902-87), and how it developed into what it is today. I suggested that there are two strands of Method actors today. Strand 1: An actor works from his or her own experiences and feelings. Strand 2: An actor finds the experiences and feelings of a character by living as closely as possible to how they live/ lived or would live. I imagine many of our best and most believable actors fall into Strand 1: They courageously use their own feelings and experiences for their work and so show us truthful and highly emotive performances. A very direct example of this can be seen in the film “Self Made,” by Gillian Wearing. She employed the services of Method acting coach Sam Rumbelow (http://actingclasseslondon.co.uk/) to help her participants “delve into their own memories, impulses, anxieties, fears, fantasies and inner resources to create a series of individual vignettes” (http:// selfmade.org.uk/), using the Method acting techniques of “basic relaxation” and “sense memory.” The contributors were all lay people with no previous acting experience. The process was like a form of therapy in which they either played themselves or used a character through which to express their own emotions and transformative work. The result effectively combined psychotherapy and performance in an exceptionally powerful film. The Method is still being used to teach at the Actors Studio in New York and Hollywood (http:// www.theactorsstudio.org/). Many big name actors are alumni and/or have taken part in James Lipton’s personal and insightful interviews on the acting process, “Inside the Actors Studio,” for acting


students and interested public alike, broadcast by Bravo TV. There are also well-known examples of directors using the Method. As Alison Steadman explains in “About Acting,” Mike Leigh asks his actors basic questions about their characters and encourages them to be that person in private with him and then later in public. This allows the actor to grow into the character by living life’s daily activities as that character would. These ways of working can engender psychological effects on the actor. I will explore several of these below. Some of my thoughts and ideas on this subject have been gleaned from discussions with clients as well as workshops or other events. As much of the material, even if expressed in public, is by nature personal, I have kept many of these sources anonymous to protect their privacy. Psychological Effects and Issues: Living The Character’s Life In his book, “The Transpersonal Actor,” Manderino reinterprets Stanislavski’s acting process. He looks at actors “introjecting” their characters and likens it to the character possessing the actor; the actor can summon the spirit of someone with the qualities needed for the part they are playing; the character takes the person over, leaving indelible marks on the actor’s personality. An actor can constantly think of or be around the person they are seeking to emulate and that person can get inside and under their skin. It’s such a high level of empathy that the actor literally feels and experiences as the character would feel. Actors who work this way describe being out of themselves – losing themselves even. Method actor Daniel Day-Lewis is known for staying in character throughout an entire film shoot and