"You are so Meisner, it's ridiculous."
Herr Director might have been teasing when he spouted this little nugget at me last night but it did get my brain thinking about the various acting "methods" that are out there and what they mean (or don't mean) to me.
There are almost as many "methods" as there are actors: there is the aforementioned Meisner Technique (named after Sanford Meisner), The Method (based on the work of Stanislavski and Chekov at the Moscow Art Theatre and then "Americanized" by some of the US's finest teachers – Strasberg, Adler, etc) and various other named techniques. A whole industry has been built around the "teaching" of acting. A lot of people are making a lot of money by making actors feel like they have to learn THIS method because THAT method has been deemed wrong or passé.
And I know I may piss off some people, but I think a LOT performance teachers are downright dangerous.
I think that learning the "art and craft" of acting is a beautiful thing. I do. If I didn't . . . boy, would that make me a hypocrite since I 'teach' it!
HOWEVER, I think that the various acting methods are nothing more than tools to get to where you need to go. But that is all they are.
I believe that every person has it in him(or her)self to become an incredible actor. Each person has the capacity to create life on a stage. All they need is the guidance and belief that they CAN. Acting is hard work but it is also remarkably simple in some ways. (of course, there are those "stylized" forms of acting such as Kabuki but those fall into a separate category as far as I am concerned) The main thing to remember is that the goal of acting is to create a life on stage.
Life. The Art of Living.
What the various techniques teach is a way to create that life on stage. That is all. No one method is better than another because no one performer is exactly like another. What works for me may not work for you. The trick is to find what DOES work for you and THAT is where a good teacher comes in. A good teachers shows you all of the tools, what they look like, what the hazards are and then lets you play with the ones you think are shiniest. A good teacher (much like a good director) is a GUIDE - not a dictator.
Acting and performing are scary enough – we should have the safety net of a trusted guide and the tools to get us where we need to go.
And if that makes me "Meisner" then so be it. I guess that is what works for me – even if I wasn't aware of it.