The Mechanics of Method Acting
Method acting surmises that actors can learn, through training and extensive practice, to realistically take on the traits of a fictional character to the point that they become that character for the duration of a project. Instead of the traditional theory that acting is entirely presentational, method acting more closely aligns the actor with the role being played.
Method actors are not expected to induce past emotionally traumatized or elevating experiences in order to adequately express a reaction on screen or stage. Rather, they are asked to become so closely aligned with the character that they will naturally act out the appropriate reactions to what occurs throughout the production.
In order to effectively carry this out, many actors choose to carry over different aspects of the role into their real lives. For example, it the fictional character is a barista, the actor may decide to work at a coffee shop in preparation for understanding this individual’s occupation more fully. If the project takes place in Italy, the actor might take an extended vacation to this country ahead of time. Any move to more closely align the artist with the role is encouraged and some actors completely immerse themselves in the world of their fictional protype for as long as they feel necessary to make the role believable to audiences.
Of course, this style of acting takes immense dedication to the craft and a willingness to adapt one’s life as necessary. It is an effective practice, but one that is limited to an actor’s ability to make these changes. They can be costly both to the person’s pocketbook and personal livelihood. The choices may be difficult to understand for others in the actor’s network. Method acting is, therefore, a personal style choice only made when it is feasible.
Getting to know a fictional character from the inside out could result in an award-winning performance. Just think, you’re more comfortable speaking on behalf of a close friend or relative when they’re not present than you would be answering for a total stranger. This is because you get to know these individuals intimately, especially if you live with someone for a period of time. The same concept applies to method acting, only the artist lives with the character at the deepest level. They become this person, and therefore, know how they would respond to certain situations. It is a difficult task, but well-worth the effort.