I am what is described as a “Method” teacher. Method acting is often misunderstood. The arguments I have read regarding acting schools and their various approaches are, in my opinion, incorrect and can sadly lead to confusion amongst actors trying to figure out what is best for them.
Some schools profess ONLY using one’s own life experience and others ONLY the imagination. Let’s face it, it is impossible for us as human beings, even while sleeping, to not be involved with BOTH.
Having studied many years with Lee Strasberg and being a member of The Actors Studio since 1975, I can tell you that I have NEVER heard ANY Method teacher or actor advise any actor to stay up for days if their character is tired, or take drugs if their character is an addict, nor be a creep if their character is creepy. Method acting trains actors to work “sensorially” and “craft” these things. A “method” actor does their work, and then lets it go. They do NOT stay in character 24/7. This notion is ridiculous.
Acting is such a compelling combination of an actor’s human understanding, imagination, crafting the “who” of the character, life experiences, script analysis based on the author, choices (individual and collaborative), physical behavior, destination, the moment before, prior circumstances, history of the character, genre of writing, the prowess in the use of voice and body, objectives, intentions, listening and responding, being in the moment with the other characters and really noticing, accepting your own unique self and your own unique sense of humor and intelligence… and these are but a few of the skills it takes to be a great actor. Some people do all this and more intuitively. Some study. Some do both.
Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner, Uta Hagen, Robert Lewis, Elia Kazan, Harold Clurman all taught these things! They were all trying to get to the same thing. They were all Masters.
I am passionately inspired for over 30 years by the relaxation and sensory work we embrace in “Method” acting. This does not take away or preclude any of the above actor explorations.