method acting *
"The Whole World's a Stage!"

Acting is an act and therefore must be an EVENT! Meyerhold @ Work *


Stanislavsky: «Remember this practical piece of advice: Never come into the theatre with mud on your feet. Leave your dust and dirt outside. Check your little worries, squabbles, petty difficulties with your outside clothing -- all the things that ruin your life and draw your attention away from your art -- at the door».

Actors & Acting: "Thus far we have seen that the savage, failing to discern the limits of his ability to control nature, ascribes to himself and to all men certain powers which we should now call supernatural. Further, we have seen that, over and above this general supernaturalism, some persons are supposed to be inspired for short periods by a divine spirit, and thus temporarily to enjoy the knowledge and power of the indwelling deity. From beliefs like these it is an easy step to the conviction that certain men are permanently possessed by a deity, or in some other undefined way are endued with so high a degree of supernatural power as to be ranked as gods and to receive the homage of prayer and sacrifice. Sometimes these human gods are restricted to purely supernatural or spiritual functions. Sometimes they exercise supreme political power in addition. In the latter case they are kings as well as gods, and the government is a theocracy." Frazer


Training and Means: Relaxation, Concentration, Imagination, Observation


"The Paradox of the actor" --an essay written by Denis Diderot (1713-1784) -- begins to approach part of the actor's challenge: to appear real, the actor must be artificial. (Wilson, p. 108, tells us that Diderot endorsed more realistic prose dialog rather than verse.) 3 basic ingredients of the actor:
1. native ability (talent)
2. training (including general education)
3. practice

"The basic essential of a great actor is that he loves himself in acting." --Charles Chaplin

Chekhov & BM: one act (On the High Road).


Twelve Step Plan to Becoming an Actor in Dawn Lerman

The Ultimate Audition Book for Teens: 111 One Minute Monologues (The Ultimate Audition Book for Teens, Volume 4) by Debbie Lamedman

More Alternative Shakespeare Auditions for Men by Simon Dunmore, William Shakespeare

Shakespeare for One: Women: The Complete Monologues and Audition Pieces by William Shakespeare, Douglas Newell (Editor)

Shakespeare for One: Men: The Complete Monologues and Audition Pieces by William Shakespeare, Douglas Newell (Editor)

Leading Women: Plays for Actresses II by Eric Lane (Editor), Nina Shengold (Editor)

Fifty African American Audition Monologues by Gus Edwards

How to Completely Blow Your Competition Away at Any Audition!: What by Caterina Christakos

Thank You Very Much: The Little Guide to Auditioning for the Musical Theater by Stuart Ostrow (Paperback - May 2002)

The Spirited Actor: Principles for a Successful Audition by Tracey Moore-Marable (Paperback - April 2002)

Audition Monologues: Power Pieces for Kids and Teens by Deborah Maddox (Paperback)

Audition Speeches for Younger Actors 16+ by Jean Marlow (Paperback)

The Audition Sourcebook: Do's, Don'ts, and an Online Guide to 2,100+ Monologues and Musical Excerpts by Randall Richardson, Don Sandley (Paperback)

Pocket Classics for Women by Ian Michaels (Editor), Roger Karshner (Paperback - November 2001)

An Actor's Dickens: Scenes for Audition and Performance from the Works of Charles Dickens by Beatrice Manley (Editor), Charles Dickens (Paperback - October 2001)

Audition Monologs for Student Actors 2: Selections from Contemporary Plays by Roger Ellis (Editor) (Paperback - October 2001)

Actor's Guide to Auditions and Interviews by Margo Annett (Paperback - September 2001)

Audition Speeches for Men by Jean Marlow, Elizabeth Ewing (Paperback - September 2001)

Scenes I'Ve Seen...: A Casting Director's Original Scenes and Interpretive Notes (Monologue and Scene Series) by Dorian Dunas (Hardcover - September 2001)

Auditioning: An Actor-Friendly Guide by Joanna Merlin, Harold Prince (Preface) (Paperback - May 2001)

Monologues for Women by Susan Pomerance (Paperback - April 2001)

Even More Monologues for Women by Women by Tori Haring-Smith (Editor) (Paperback)

Neil Simon Scenes: Scenes from the Works of America's Foremost Playwright by Neil Simon, Roger Karshner (Editor) (Paperback - October 2000)

The Monologue Audition: A Practical Guide for Actors by Karen Kohlhaas, David Mamet (Paperback)

The Sanford Meisner Approach: Workbook IV Playing the Part (The Sanford Meisner Approach) by Larry Silverberg (Paperback)

Outstanding Stage Monologs and Scenes from the '90s: Professional Auditions for Student Actors by Steven H. Gale (Editor) (Paperback - July 2000)

The Ultimate Audition Book for Teens: 111 One-Minute Monologues (Young Actors Series) by Janet B. Milstein (Paperback - July 2000)

More Alternative Shakespeare Auditions for Women by William Shakespeare, Simon Dunmore (Editor) (Paperback - May 2000)

Contemporary Scenes for Actors: Men by Michael Earley (Editor), et al (Paperback - December 1999)

How to Get the Part...Without Falling Apart! by Margie Haber, et al (Paperback - October 1999)

Audition Monologs for Student Actors: Selections from Contemporary Plays by Roger Ellis (Editor) (Paperback - August 1999)

Tight Spots: True-To-Life Monolog Characterizations for Student Actors by Diana M. Howie (Paperback - August 1999)

The Stage Directions Guide to Auditions (Heinemann's Stage Directions Series) by Stephen Peithman (Editor), et al (Paperback - April 1999)

Acting Scenes and Monologs for Young Women: 60 Dramatic Characterizations by Maya Levy (Paperback - March 1999)

Cold Reading and How to Be Good at It by Basil Hoffman (Paperback - February 1999)

Scenes for Women by Women by Tori Haring-Smith (Editor) (Paperback - February 1999)

Arthur Schnitzler : Four Plays (Great Translations for Actors Series) by Arthur Schnitzler, Carl R. Mueller (Translator) (Paperback - 1999)

Pocket Monologues: Working-Class Characters for Women by Susan Pomerance (Paperback - 1999)

The Flip Side: 64 Point-Of-View Monologs for Teens by Heather H Henderson, Ted Zapel (Editor) (Paperback - October 1998)

Great Scenes and Monologues for Actors by Michael Schulman (Editor), Eva Mekler (Editor) (Mass Market Paperback - September 1998)

The Theatre Audition Book: Playing Monologs from Contemporary, Modern, Period, Shakespeare and Classical Plays by Gerald Lee Ratliff (Paperback - September 1998)

Pocket Monologues for Men by Roger Karshner (Editor) (Paperback - July 1998)

Two-Minute Monologs : Original Audition Scenes for Professional Actors by Glenn Alterman, Theodore O. Zapel (Editor) (Paperback - June 1998)

The Perfect Monologue: How to Find and Perform the Monologue That Will Get You the Part by Ginger Friedman (Paperback - May 1998)

A Guide to Scenes & Monologues from Shakespeare and His Contemporaries by Kurt Daw, Julia Matthews (Paperback - April 1998)

Alternative Shakespeare Auditions for Men by Simon Dunmore (Editor), William Shakespeare (Paperback - March 1998)

Alternative Shakespeare Auditions for Women by Simon Dunmore (Editor), William Shakespeare (Paperback - March 1998)

For Women: Pocket Monologues from Shakespeare by William Shakespeare, et al (Paperback - January 1998)

Another Perfect Piece: Monologues from Canadian Plays by Tony Hamill (Editor) (Paperback - October 1997)

Pocket Monologues for Women by Susan Pomerance (Paperback - July 1997)

Monologues on Black Life by Gus Edwards (Paperback - February 1997)

Next!: An Actor's Guide to Auditioning by Ellie Kanner, et al (Paperback - January 1997)

Baseball Monologues by Lavonne Mueller (Editor), Lee Blessing (Introduction) (Paperback - September 1996)

Classical Audition Speeches for Men by Jean Marlow (Compiler) (Paperback - September 1996)

Classical Audition Speeches for Women by Jean Marlow (Paperback - September 1996)

More Monologues for Women by Women by Tori Haring-Smith (Editor) (Paperback - August 1996)

For Women: More Monologues They Haven't Heard by Susan Pomerance (Paperback - July 1996)

Kids Stuff by Ruth Mae Roddy (Paperback - July 1996)

Neil Simon Monologues: Speeches from the Works of America's Foremost Playwright by Neil Simon, et al (Paperback - July 1996)

Voices by Lydia Cosentino (Editor) (Paperback - July 1996)

The Audition Process: A Guide for Actors by Bob Funk (Paperback - April 1996)

Next: Auditioning for the Musical Theatre by Steven M. Alper, Herbert Knapp (Illustrator) (Paperback - February 1996)

The Contemporary Monologue: Men by Michael Earley (Editor), et al (Paperback - December 1995)

The Contemporary Monologue: Women by Michael Earley (Editor), et al (Paperback - September 1995)

Getting the Part: Thirty-Three Professional Casting Directors Tell You How to Get Work in Theater, Films, Commercials, and TV by Judith Searle (Paperback - September 1995)


Some biomechanics...


PRE-ACTING is also Meyerhold's term. In Acting One, I start with the separation of text and performance. I do not allow my students to start with the lines of their monologues unless the exposition is completed. You see, there's a natural tendency to let the text do the job. Character will TELL everything you need to know -- that's why we call actor a performer. Why not a composer? Where are the space and time when actor creates? In fact, actor is the first to be seen in three-dimensional space in front of you.

According to the (orthodox) Stanislavsky System, we are not supposed to see actor, only the character. Actor must dessolve himself withn his role. If it's true, the words of your character are to follow. You have to establish the basics of you character, situation, genre and etc. and only then you can go for your first line.

We have to have it -- the three points. The same holds true in Aristotle's rules for dramatic composition. First is the beginning.

Meyerhold in his bio-mechanics broke every act into three parts. There are many famous exercises, we do in class the simple ones -- "Handshake," "Throwing the Stone," sometimes "The Arrow." AIM -- ACTION -- RELEASE. In "Handshake" actor has to establish the aim, that's where the succes of the step two (Action) -- intentions, his character's traits, moods, situations and etc.

Next -- The Middle. Action itself is the actuality, it's kinetics of the potentiality, that's what we watch -- the birth of action. We have to have the first part in order for us to experience DRAMA. In "Arrow" exercise the part two is nothing -- the part three follows immediately. Reaction. Did I hit the target, did you miss?


The Resolution. The end of the cycle. The reversal of action. In class I do what Meyerhold recommended -- the extra step -- the pause before you go to the next cycle. He called it -- Period. It disciplines the actor, forces him to define each movement within its own structure. Yes, like a drill sergeant, I go with ONE-TWO-THREE.... and FOUR.

Like in a dance class, yes, each movement on stage must be choreographed, because everything on stage is text. The first reaction -- it's crazy, I feel as if I don't know how to walk anymore! That's right, you don't. You have to learn it again -- and then teach your character how to walk, speak, move his eyes....

What about the "natural"? The spontaneity? There is nothing natural about stage, it only looks "natural". Besides, it's a training, we break it down in segments to make sure that every element is in place. When you jump, you don't think where to put your foot. It has to be in your blood.

That is what we should call training!

Now a few notes about his teacher -- Stanislavsky, the father of the System -- the Psychological Method of Acting. In my and his own words.


"Everything in Russian theatre is based on Stanislavsky... But Stanislavsky is a beginning step. After all, he revealed a direction for the theatre of his time, not this time. So he must be advanced... Meyerhold was from Stanislavsky content. Like many others, we believe it is a very good combination." Georgii Tovstonogov.


Stage movement and staged movement. Choreographed movement. More complicated than dance -- actor's movement.

"Naked Stanislavsky" -- Reactions to system brought more system. System of system. X-rays of Method Acting.

(My notes for the workshops at 3rd RAT conference at NYU)

At the First Russian American summer conference in St. Petersburg, Russia was called "School of Russian Theatre," the Third in New York -- "Stanislavky vs. Stanislavsky."



.... not just action, but stage action. It must be reinforced that all our definitions (emotions, thoughts, etc.) are within theatre experience, very different in nature next to "real" experience. Opposite?

Ways to study and analysis both the character and sense of yourself within the character. Always two parts: Actor's Work on Himself and Actor's Work on His Role. And each is divided on inner and outer work (psycho-technic). Living the Part and Building the Character.

"The work on each new role actor must begin with work on himself."

The four major tasks:


"Table Book of Dramatic Artist" (unfinished manuscript).(4)[All quotes are from this work by Stanislavsky.]

Needs to disassemble elements of human nature -- any analysis is always a deconstruction.

The Stages of Work on Your Role

Active analysis of play and role.
"Don't study text (role), study feelings and thoughts of your character."

Wrong and right.
"Make sure that words are not ahead of thoughts, and thoughts -- ahead of feelings." (123)

"How to fix emotion, which is only from time to time could be recalled. There's only one way is to do it -- to link an emotion with action. Get used to link an emotion with certain action, on one hand, it's become possible to repeat this feeling through familiar action, and, on another hand, emotions getting linked with different actions, force actor into familiar psycho-physiological states."

How did we manage to see the System in two different lights -- pschological realism and method of physical action?

"In life, feelings are in search of words; on stage, words are in search of feelings...."

Class Exercises
Improv and Text: making it into my words. Text has to be destroyed as a written text. Sometimes I ask them to re-write it with their own handwriting. Memorization process. Class exercises and homework; repetitions.

"Too bad if memorized words are ahead of thoughts. Too bad if a thought expression is ahead of developing of the feeling which originated this very thought, this feeling is an essence and a root of thought." (126)

The logic of inner development leads to a necessity of tightening together action with verbalization (verbal action).

Emotions must be felt before words. (Pre-acting in his view is the inner acting, a process which leads naturally to a physical expression).
Origination of emotion is a first process, the initial point of action. Logic of emotion, logic of developing an emotion, and logic of handling this emotion by the actor. Discovering right feelings (motivation); rehearsals -- logic of character's behavior, logic of his inner state, moods, emotions could and should discover through actor's feelings within the character.

[From Chronicles (Diaries) of Rehearsals.]

"In order to present a simple, a complex, or a mixed feeling, one has to understand the nature of this feeling."

Scene = Summary of Components (mind) through logic.

Any Dramatic emotion (by Actor) must be a result of all the components, process = becoming, being born step by step. Don't play result ("ready feelings"). After a correct feeling is discovered it has to be recognized and fixed by actor (blocking, props, etc.) Don't play emotions (monolith feeling, blocks).

Process in itself guards against fixation of feeling. Action is not through a feeling but a foundation of the feeling.
The Trinity: word, thought, feeling.

"There are two directions in art of acting: one is imitation of true feelings, another -- re-inaction (stimulation, creation) of true feelings." (Actor or Character, see Meyerhold).

"Inner design" of the role.
Actor must not only know logic of feelings, but also a logic of thought.
Connection between a feeling and a rhythm is issue of TIME existence of feeling in SPACE. Result: actor must act, not just feel.

Object of communication -- partner (scene), self-communication (partner inside your character, yourself).

"Truth of (Stage) Communication: to see, to hear, to recognize thoughts, feelings and action in your partner. They trigger spiritual changes in actor." (136)

Homework: Cut everything from the text which could be done without text. "Play on pause"!

Actor's Text. Monologue breakdown stage #3. Emotions on the left margins of your monologue, motion -- on the right. Draw the floor plan with acting areas. Indicate the spots (number them) on your ground plan. Make a copy for my file on you. For floor plan instructions see Directing Page




"Never get caught acting." -- Lillian Gish
Wait! You are not ready. Because I am not, the spectator.
Actor lives in many spaces at once. He lives in my inner space. In my mind. Where else do you think acting takes place?
Intermediate acting is about this inner acting.
Inner space and time. Inner monologue. The words not spoken. For every word in monologue I ask for two, three, four not being said. In actor's journals I ask to write the streams of consciousness, the thoughts, related (association) images and feelings, memories. These nightmarish exercises in writing help to open the mental space in actor.
"Paper Acting" -- a preparation.

Do you want to know a secret of good acting?
Small things. Very small. They, the little things, separate a good actor from "acting." "Acting begins with a tiny inner movement so slight that it is almost completely invisible."[1] The border line between visible and invisible is real acting. Making invisible visible, remember? It has to be "inner" -- we follow the process, the becoming. Never go for shortcuts; as with electricity, the energy produces nothing if it's not controlled, processed, transformed into other forms. You have to be ready to act, and -- I, your spectator, must be ready. Acting is a preparation to act, the rest is easy. If we both are ready, the acting come "naturally."


Meyerhold's formula: Actor = Artist + Medium

Remember, there are two actors in each actor. One "directs" the other. The definition of artist:
"the art of the actor here stands between the plastic arts and poetry." Goethe.[2]

In his "Rules for Actors" Goethe writes: "In ordinary life, too, the actor must remember that he is to be part of a public presentation."[3] Artist is always there, artist "acts" all the time. Observation, analysis, imagination -- the artist.


"Play actors? No, we are artists, noble artists, and it is you who are the play-actors." (Alexander Ostrovsky _Forest_)
"You" are the people who do not act, who "live." Or think that they do...
warmups (yoga): Eagle Camel child dance
Stanislavsky-MAT De Niro - Film Actors Strasberg