In the dramatic arts, method acting is a group of techniques actors use to create in themselves the thoughts and feelings of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances. Though not all Method actors use the same approach, the “Method” refers to the method of teaching the craft of acting, which was created by Constantin Stanislavski in order to teach concepts of acting to his students. Later, Stanislavski’s method of teaching acting was adapted by Lee Strasberg for American actors. Strasberg’s method emphasized the practice of connecting to a character by drawing on personal emotions and memories, aided by a set of exercises and practices including sense memory and affective memory. Stanislavski’s system of acting was the foundation of Strasberg’s technique. Rigorous adherents of Strasberg’s technique are now commonly referred to as “Method Actors”, although the “Method” refers to Stanislavski’s original system.
Method acting has been described as having “revolutionized American theater”. While classical acting instruction “had focused on developing external talents”, the Method was “the first systematized training that also developed internal abilities (sensory, psychological, emotional)”.
The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute Useful overview of the Method Acting style and its history.
Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute Comprehensive article by Strasberg discussing theories of traditions of acting and the actor’s approach to the role.
Ron Gilbert Excellent article (now archived) by Ron Gilbert Actor’s Studio member, that discusses the origins of The Method in America. With references to Stanislavski, Lee Strasberg, Michael Chekhov, Stella Adler, Elia Kazan, Meyerhold and others, this essay paints an accurate picture of both the beauty and misunderstandings of Method acting.