A holistic approach to Acting and Personal Growth
The Stanislavskij Method (developed in the late 1800s) is about using psychology to access truthful acting: all that is nowadays generally referred to as 'Method acting' essentially derives from this. Many teachers and coaches, such as Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, Susan Batson, Uta Hagen, Sanford Meisner, have taken this approach and developed it their own way.
Method acting could be now loosely defined as using real memories to access the character's emotions. This can be done both consciously (for example, using Substitutions) or unconsciously (for example, experiencing exercises such as the Private Moment). Different approaches and exercises can be mixed as the actor trains and learns to find what works best for them. For example, if the actor doesn't feel ready to approach a certain memory that might be too difficult or traumatic, they may use the power of imagination in order to access a specific emotion that they need to evoke into their character. Ultimately, the best acting connects an actor’s inner world with the character's actionable circumstances. That's how you achieve Truth that can be witnessed by an audience. But it is indeed a process, a training.
Where Stanislasvkij focuses on the Objective, as in what the actor/character wants, we go deeper than that and we ask of you that you learn to connect with what you need - referring here to your inner child's main Unfulfilled Need.
We work with the Triangulation Need - Action - Tragic Flaw. A character might be doing an action to get what they want, but how does their overall Unfulfilled Need inform their behaviour and Public Persona? Are they really striving to get what they need, or are they heading towards their Tragic Flaw? What is their real private side, the part they wouldn’t show to anyone else?
Another very important skill we teach is Script Analysis, with its Story Arc (or Dramatic Arc). It is pivotal to understand how deeply connected Acting is to Writing and Directing. Knowing how to analyse and divide up a script will make you much more effective as an actor with any piece of writing.
The Actor's Intimacy is a set of exercises that helps you working on your own shadow and private aspects, to then be able to really grasp the essence of the character you are working on. There are six main steps in this training: the Private Moment, the Celebration, the Phone Call, Lost & Found, the Animal, the Place of Defeat.
Each one of these exercises should be attempted a variable number of times, until the actor actually "surpasses" it (as in, they surpass themselves and their own limits in it). There will be a moment of catharsis or so called Revelation that will take you, as an actor and as a human being, to a whole new level - and indeed to the next Intimacy step.
Some of these steps can be performed for the character, rather than for the actor:
this is known as Character’s Intimacy. In other words, it is possible to work directly on the Need and shadow of the character: the process is profound, although maybe less than the one on the actor as a person, but it’s faster and still very efficient.
Meditation, Grounding and Relaxation are part of most of our classes, and we also train actors to develop Sense Memory, Visualisation and Imagination. All of these are included especially within our unique and very powerful signature exercise: the Freedom Circle.
Every session starts with a check-in and ends with a check-out: this is to help detach from our daily lives and prepare to the delicate work we do, and then to decompress and elaborate what we've done and be able to go back to our regular selves in a safe and healthy way. In order to achieve this, we use techniques, exercises and games learnt in Applied Theatre, such as Dramatherapy and Theatre of the Oppressed. We always strive to establish and maintain a safe space during every course and session, as this allows our students to fully open up and share their journey with their colleagues.
But how does this relate to Personal Growth and Development? How exactly is this a 'holistic' approach to acting?
Well, keep reading...
Why does Theatre exist? Why do humans feel the need, since the dawn of time, to watch other humans pretend to be something they’re not?
Like every most ancient form of Art, Theatre too, is a form of healing.
Actors transform into something different, so that the audience can see themselves mirrored in them. They can see what they’re hiding inside, regardless of how aware they are of this process. But how does this happen exactly?
The power of the Actor resides in their ability — not to lie or pretend — but indeed, to be Truthful. To offer what they have inside, their deepest secrets and fears, their dreams, vulnerability and their infant-hood; the parts of them that were bullied at school, the way they felt ‘different’ from the rest of the gang, the issues they might have encountered within their family circle: and they offer this Truth, their Unfulfilled Need, their ‘Personal Shit’ (if you know, you know) to the audience, on a silver plate.
And yes, that Truth is offered in order to be metaphorically eaten by the audience. So that they can learn, change, grow.
An Actor must have pure honesty, take a real good look at who they are, what they want, what they need, what are their patterns, good, bad and neutral, in order to be able to offer their Truth without any filter, without any of their own subconscious projections. So the audience watches, sees something that they love or hate about themselves, in you, the Actor, on stage or on screen.
“Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this
special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature:
for any thing so o'erdone is from the purpose of playing, whose
end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold as 'twere the
mirror up to nature: to show virtue her feature, scorn her own
image, and the very age and body of the time his form and
Theatre is indeed born as a form of healing: healing for society.
At the Method Campus, we firmly believe that our purpose as Artists, as Actors, is to become experts in human behaviour, so that we can heal, not just ourselves, but also others. Our purpose is to become better humans, to build a better world.
Actors have the ability in believing in imaginary circumstances: this is what we do. We make Magic become real. We can believe in dreams, and we can also make them come true. Anyone who’s been to see a play would know this is true. Theatre teaches you to believe in yourself — to know yourself. Sometimes we see a show and we don’t know why we’re laughing or crying, it just happens to our body; we feel something in our throat, in our chest, in our belly, or even in our legs, hands or head. We feel hot, cold, we shiver, we might even utter something, as we’re taken away by the story of the characters whose Truth we’re witnessing. From a holistic point of view, we could say that, as our energy flows through our body, it’s getting stuck somewhere, and we suddenly become more aware of that obstacle, we feel it, as our body resonates with what’s happening on the stage.
Theatre is indeed used in psychology and therapy. It’s studied in philosophy and esoterism. It’s applied in holistic disciplines and in business development, to become more aware, to learn things about difficult relationships from our past, to learn how to channel our real power through our voice and body, to connect with our emotions and feelings, without being afraid of them. We learn how to get private in public, how to uncover who we really are, even if we’re not alone, even if we’re talking to someone who “shouldn’t see us cry” or to whom we “shouldn’t say that kind of personal stuff”. Theatre is an incredibly powerful Art when used for personal development and growth.
At the Method Campus we don’t do ‘therapy’: but our work is indeed very therapeutic. Who trains with us wants to be better, not just as a performer, but as a human being. Because honest self-analysis is indeed necessary to break certain boundaries: any respectable theatre training will start with this. You need to get out of your comfort zone, see things from a different point of view, stand in someone else's shoes.
And be brave. Do that choice that scares you. Be the change you want to see. Transform live on stage (or on set). So that the audience may be witness to your Truth, and they may heal, learn, and transform, too.
All this sounds so incredibly important, maybe too much. After all, we’re just “playing”, right? It might all just be in our own heads. Are we actually able to cross our own limits, go beyond the ‘impossible’ and actually change who we are, letting go of our indulgences, learning to take responsibilities and stopping blaming others for our own circumstances? Anyone who witnessed someone performing a Private Moment or any other AIT step and ‘surpassing themselves’ in it, here at the Campus, will know the answer to that question.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
Would you say that actors are professional liars? At the Method Campus, we believe Actors do not lie when performing. In fact, they are as Truthful and as real as they can possibly be — or they're striving to be, at any given moment through a scene. That’s the beauty of acting: vulnerability, openness, courage in making choices. Say that thing that you’ve never said, do that thing that you’ve never done. Show us that it can be done. Teach us to believe that we have the power: we, the audience, society; people, have the power.
But to be able to do that, to show us the way, you have to do it for real, not pretend. You have to really go through your Personal Shit, work with your Shadow, learn to turn it into gold; let us see, every night, how you become someone else, from beginning to curtain.
Perhaps Actors are the most honest humans in the world, when performing. Because it is indeed in our nature of human beings, in our everyday lives, that we lie and hide what we feel, who we are, with a shield called ‘Public Persona’. We need one thing, but we say we want something else. We feel incomplete, but we act like we’re whole, like we don’t need anyone to be a successful career person or a happy human. We strive to fit in, and yet, we want to show the world how fit we are, how ready we are — when, in reality, nobody knows what they’re doing, do they? We’re all still here, still making mistakes, still learning. And that is okay.
At the Method Campus, we work with energy, we work with body, voice, emotion, we work with memories, real and imaginative. We stimulate the spirit and the mind, we connect, we strive to be better. Join us now.
The Actor’s & Character’s Intimacy Training Steps
and more exercises from Method Campus
The Actor’s Intimacy: Private Moment, Celebration, Phone Call, Lost & Found, Animal, Place of Defeat.
The Character’s Intimacy: Private Moment, Phone Call, Animal, Tragic Flaw.
Interview to the Character (basic) and Journalist Report (advanced)
Improvisation: group and solo
Sense memory (danger, fear, advantage, success, calm, etc.)
Freedom Circle: dance, play and free up your Inner Child
Close-up training (using a character to work on yourself)
Previous Circumstances and PC Monologue
The 4 Walls or the Circle of Protection
The 2 sides of the 4th Wall
Improvisations to explore behaviour and personal limits and improve listening and connection to the Need
Person at the door
The Story Arc (or Dramatic Arc)
Divide the script and identify the 'bits' (Undisclosed/Open/Exposed Need, Conflict, Operative)
Substitutions (or Personalisations): What to Substitute and how: the 5 'WH' questions
The Lead, the secondary character, the Antagonist
Method Campus Levels
Level 1 — Basic Acting Method: Need and Separation (3 terms)
Level 2 — Intermediate Acting Method: You in a Place (3 terms)
Level 3 — Advanced Acting Method: The Character will Set You Free (2 terms)
Level 4 — The Professional Actor: Training is a cycle
After completing each Level, a Certificate of Completion will be released.
Terms are part-time options, lasting longer than Intensive courses, but they both have the same validity when it comes to the work and Certificates achievement.
It's strongly advised to undertake all terms/courses required to complete a Level in a row, but it's not obligatory: to obtain the Certificate, however, it is required to complete all three terms/courses within a year for Level 1 and 2, and both the Level-3 terms within 9 months.
About Level 4
Lots of our students and the typical Method Actor who loves our approach will generally want to stick around and keep practising. That's why we designed Level 4. Method Training is a cycle, each time you start over from the first step is different, it's a new depth of discovery and you are much more free and open and capable of using your instrument at that stage, so what you get out of your second-time Private Moment is usually huge compared to the first time you did it. At Level 4, you are also able to work on some advanced exercises and other work you might choose to prepare on your own: you can discuss this with the coach and the class, and keep the creative juice flowing at a high level.
Learning The Method
Psychology & Acting: Triangulation Need-Persona-Tragic Flaw
The Unfulfilled Need
The 4th Wall
Substitution and Personalisation: the 5 ‘WH’ questions
Sense memory and Emotion memory
Audition (live and self-tape)
Cinema & TV series
Being private in public
Be in the Here and Now
Standing out, being a unique artist
How to repeat performances every night
Use it: Whatever happens, how to make it work
Voice work: Speak through your feelings
Speak out: state how you feel or what's going on when something 'doesn't work'
Using the Dramatic Arc to act powerfully with any script or even without one
Separation from self-sabotages and people who bring you down
Know your Shadow
Creativity and imagination: freeing the Inner Child
Know yourself and find what makes you unique
Sharing & feedback
Extra and Tips
Shoot self-tapes and reels in class