Method acting refers to systems of dramatic training that stem from the work of Russian theatre practitioner Konstantin Stanislavski (1863 -1968). While these systems can differ significantly from one another—containing varied philosophies, exercises and techniques of training—they are unified by their singular point of origin and their general goal of training actors to deliver emotionally expressive, nuanced, and naturalistic performances. However, despite the vast and positive influence method acting has had on acting in contemporary film and theatre, the term itself has something of a troubled reputation. It often conjures up the image of an actor lost in their role—staying in character between takes, or jogging on the spot to appear exhausted for even the shortest scene. Indeed, a Googling of the phrase “method acting is” elicits the following auto-completes: “not acting”, “dangerous”, “pretentious”, “bad” and “overrated”.
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