What is Method Acting
Method Acting comes from the work of Constantin Stanislavski who developped a method to transform into the character. Actors who are using Method Acting are not faking it. They are living it as if they were the character.
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Use Of Past Memories
Method Acting is known for its use of the past memories of the actor. Actors are asked to use a personal memory of a situation that is close to the situation of the character. It will help the actor to link the Need of the character to his own unfulfilled Need.
This aspect of Method Acting has been criticized as some actors and acting teachers believe that it can hurt the actor to constantly dig in his memory to find scars and unfulfilled needs that can be used for the role.
Use Of Imagination
Of course, the use of past memories is not the only way to bring life to a character. In Method Acting, it’s whatever works ! Actors can use imagination or symbolic images to connect to an emotion or an imaginary circumstance.
Stella Adler for example is well known for her preference on the use of imagination over past memory. Stanislavsky himself later realized that the constant use of past memories could be quite damaging for the actors.
The Goal Of Method Acting : Being real and Authentic
The ultimate goal of method acting is to deliver a powerful, realistic and believable performance. In order to do so, actors have to live in the scene as in real life. As Meisner said : « Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances ».
The difficulty is to believe in the imaginary circumstances as if it were happening in real life. The use of past memories makes it easier as all the details of your experience is already in your subconscious mind. It’s lying there somewhere. And sometimes, your memory of a situation is not exactly as the situation happened. And you’ve probably experienced a situation where you have a very precise memory and you discuss it with someone and they have a different memory of this situation.
Memory and imagination are like the two doors of the same closet.
How Hypnosis Can Help For Method Acting
Entering a state of trance
The trance state is a state of mind that is used in hypnosis to quiet the conscious mind and allow access to the unconscious mind. As Acting is mainly an unconscious process, method actors are in state of trance when they act. They are allowed to access to a more vivid imagination and intense feelings. They experience what athletes describe as the « Zone ». Sometimes, they are so fully engaged in what they are doing that it’s only after the performance that they realize what they’ve done. Their performance is spontaneous and full of surprises.
This state of Trance can be reached through hypnosis. Hypnosis can train the actors to get in the best trance for their performance.
Reaching the higher self
When someone is being hypnotized, there’s a part of him who is conscious of bbeing hypnotized. And an other part is engaged is the hypnotic trance. Just as when we are watching a movie, and we are deeply engaged in the story, and a part of us is still conscious that the story is a fiction and that we are comfortably seated in our chair.
Method Actors often refer to this dual state of consciousness as the higher self. That’s a part of us that’s conscious of the real situation of the production, the choregraphy, the lines, the blockings. And the other part of us is involved in the scene, fighting for the scene objective of the character.
Past lives explorations and dreaming
Hypnosis can be used to experience some past lives remembering. Vivid dreams that seems to be a memory, something so real that it’s as if it really happenned even though we are not in the circumstances of our real life.
A similar exploration of the circumstances of the character can happen under an hypnotic trance. Hypnosis can be used to induce a dreaming state where you will get insights about your character. Some hypnotic inductions can be used before going to ed to give instructions to your unconscious mind to bring you a vivid dream about your character.
Michael Chekhov refers to some visualisation techniques he used to create characters in the theater of his mind, asking them to show him answers to his questions.
Letting Go and relaxation
Regular use of hypnosis will help you calm down and relax. When performing, it’s too late to control what you do. You have to surrender to your subconscious mind and allow him to do the work. The regular practice of hypnosis and self-hypnosis will train you to let go and trust your subconscious mind.
Allowing your subconscious mind to communicate with you will free your creativity and your imagination. Some hypnotic sessions are designed to improve your imagination by allowing it to express itself more often. This pack for example is designed to boost creativity : Boost Your Creativity.
Protecting Your Self
Method Acting is difficult because you have to forget about yourself. You have to enter in the life of someone else and completely forget about your own. But what if you get stuck into the character, what if you can’t find yourself back ? Just as someone who would stay in hypnotic trance and never be able to get out.
By learning and practicing self-hypnosis, you will find that you can more easily come out of trance. By mastering your states of mind, you will gain control on your trance and be able to go deeper and come back better. Just as you can’t swim deep under water if you don’t know how to come back safely.
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