ACTOR’S CALLING: You’re Not One Of Those “Method Actors” Are You?

One of my pet peeves about the public’s impression of Method Acting is that they seem to think that method actors assume an unhealthy, inhumane and destructive approach to their work. They quote articles on Heath Ledger and Christian Bale being insane – articles that with little to no context, logical or substantial evidence, attempt to sensationalise the news by shaming the way actors prepare for their roles. We’ll elaborate on the rumours another time but what people don’t know is that these claims are often unfounded. An actor properly trained in method acting will not go off the deep end because they have control over their (physical and emotional) instrument. So in this post, I’m going to tell you why method acting works for me, and why I stand by it.

So What Is Method Acting?

“The Method” is simply a confined label. Any actor who has found a specific way that works for them is essentially a ‘method actor’ or to rephrase it, an actor with a methodical way of working. There is no such thing as “the method” as a cure-all technique that fits every actor. It is simply ‘a method’ of working as an actor. It is to up to you to create “the method” that works best for you.

Why Method Acting?

One of the main benefits I have found with method acting is this: an increased sensitivity and self-awareness. Let me explain. With sensitivity and self-awareness, I don’t mean just crying or being emotional  or being overly philosophical. What I mean is my ability to be attuned to myself and the world around me, what my values system is, what my strengths and weaknesses are as an individual, how I am like others and how I am unlike others. That discovery of myself empowers me to continue what I am doing or work on my short comings or potentially even both.

Method acting taught me that I experience the world through my own sensory filters- smell, taste, touch, sound and sight. These are my creative muscles. The very things that stimulate me. The stimulus creates thoughts. The thoughts initiate feelings. These are my impulses. The feelings spur verbal and non-verbal expressions or responses which are then experienced by others in the form of my story. My story is that much more personal and grounded and genuine because I relate it back to my life and my own experiences. So as I share with others, I am also sharing a part of myself.

Training of (Your TOOLS + Your TALENT) = Your Method of Acting
Method Acting also trained not just my tools but also my talent. What do I mean by that? Yes, acting gives me phenomenal access to external tools of my voice, speech, body language, charisma even but again I relate it back to internal ability of telling an engaging story. What is the point of only looking or sounding ‘great’ but basically coming across as an empty shell with no sense of self?

My talent is my story, it is what I bring to the table over the years I have lived, life I have led and experiences I have undergone. Method Acting has made me aware of my story and gave me the courage of my convictions to develop a strong inner core and believe my personal story is worth sharing and worth listening to, either through the medium of my own writing or through the characters I have performed as.

When I work with and coach others, even those who have never acted (in the traditional sense of the word) in their lives, I have realized this: When they come to me, their talent, their story is already based on the life they led, the roles they play in their life and oftentimes their occupations. I certainly am not qualified to be a banker or a rocket-scientist or a lawyer or a property broker. I know nothing about the ‘content’ of these jobs or what it takes to be ‘good’ at their job. What I do know is that with Method Acting, I have found a way to understand and connect to the ‘context’ of their job and help them be better and more specific with all the other skills that makes them able to tell their story better, to do their job better, to be more connected to themselves and the world around them. I have found with Method Acting, I am able to “Free Your Talent.”

At HCAC, I hope to share the various methods of acting with you. Almost every semester, I conduct an 8-week workshop on Lee Strasberg’s Method Acting. HCAC often hosts instructors who are specialists in  other methods of acting. Speaking for myself, I hope that Strasberg’s work will change my student’s lives just as it changed mine. These workshops are usually overbooked so in Semester 6 of 2015, I will be teaching two sessions of the same workshop, one on Wednesday afternoon and one on Thursday evening. I’m stoked!

Always With Hope Towards The Future,
Kamil Haque

Actor’s Calling is a series of articles written personally by Kamil Haque, founder of the Haque Centre for Acting & Creativity. In this series, Kamil hopes to share his personal journey. He explores his vision for the school, growth as an actor and experiences as a teacher. The series also seeks to dispel some of the common misunderstandings about Actors and Method Acting.

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