5 Acting Techniques Every Actor Should Know

As you watch your favorite actors and actresses in film or on TV, it seems effortless, right? But, in reality, there is so much hard work that goes into the process – and education. After all, charisma can only get you so far. If you or your child is considering getting into the craft, here are some common acting techniques you’ll learn.

1. Stanislavski Method

Konstantin Stanislavski developed this systematic training technique. The idea is to bring a sense of realism to your performance by breaking down the role based on the character’s circumstance:

  • Who Am I?
  • Where Am I?
  • When Is It?
  • What Do I Want? And Why?
  • How Will I Get It?
  • What Do I Need to Overcome?

Among acting techniques, this one is unique. Actors often use the “magic if” by which they imagine themselves in their character’s circumstances.

Actors who have used this technique include Lord Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, Ellen Burstyn and Marilyn Monroe.

2. Method Acting Technique

The Stanislavski method inspired the Method Acting technique developed by Lee Strasberg, and it’s one of the most popular today. Again, the idea is for the performance to be as emotionally realistic as possible. Actors are taught how to use their own experiences to recall a strong emotion from their past.

However, it is a misconception that this acting technique requires you to stay in character both on- and off-screen or stage.

Daniel Day-Lewis, Christian Bale, Robert Di Niro and Marlon Brando are known to use this acting technique.

3. Meisner Technique

Sandford Meisner, a colleague of Lee Strasberg, developed this acting technique, so it’s also influenced by the Stanislavski method. The goal is to rid yourself of any predispositions and go on instinct instead so that you can be more present and in the moment on stage. The Meisner technique focuses heavily on improvisation exercises and the use of imagination to evoke emotion versus memory.

Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Allison Janney and Anthony Hopkins use the Meisner technique.

4. Chekhov Technique

While Michael Chekhov was originally trained by Stanislavski, his acting technique taps more into the subconscious mind and shows more physicality. For example, you might physicalize an internal need into a gesture and by repeating the gesture then internalize the emotion and use it in the performance.

The goal is to show a more heightened portrayal of reality.

Actors using the Chekhov acting technique include Ingrid Bergman, Clint Eastwood and Johnny Depp.

5. Practical Aesthetics Acting Technique

This acting technique was created by playwright and film director, David Mamet, and combines teachings from Stanislavski, Meisner and the philosopher Epictetus. Here, actors use a four-step analysis to break down a scene:

  • The literal
  • The want
  • The essential action
  • The “as if”

In doing so, the idea is that the actor will then become immersed in the character’s world for a more realistic performance.

Jessica Alba, Rose Byrne, Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy are known to use this acting technique.

Acting Lessons at Expression City

At Expression City, acting lessons are available through our Homeschool Performing Arts Academy and we also offer improv, auditioning, audition taping and private coaching for all ages.

Here, you or your child will learn different acting techniques that allow you to become familiar with both the practical and technical aspects of acting while also experiencing how to truly embody the spirit and personalities of characters in various roles.

Students also have multiple opportunities to perform in our state-of-the-art Roy E. Barberi Theatre.

To learn more about acting lessons at Expression City, contact us today or register now.