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Dunk Literary Cafe: Acting Techniques

Acting Techniques Cafe Station Directions

Directions For This Cafe Station:

This station will focus on Acting Techniques. Please be sure to follow all directions in the order they appear on this sheet.

In the book Dunk, Malcom Vale is professor of Theatre at Baldwin Community College. Malcom uses acting techniques for his summer job as Bozo, the clown who sits on the dunk tank, insulting visitors and tourists on the boardwalk. These acting techniques allow Malcom to reach his audience (the unsuspecting tourists and visitors of the boardwalk) in an emotional way.

Work in groups of 3 and follow these directions to the Dunk Literary Café resource web page to learn more about acting techniques.

Directions:

1. On the iPad mini, open up Safari. Click the open book icon (Bookmarks).

2. Click the link labeled Acting Techniques.

3. For each of the three acting techniques Stanislavski, Meisner and Strasberg, scroll down and follow the directions in the appropriate text box to learn about each technique.   Record one piece of information you learned about each technique in the chart on your station sheet.

4. Read each monologue associated with each acting technique. Then each group member should perform the monologue for your small group utilizing the acting technique.

Stanislavski Technique

To learn about this technique, do the following:

1. Read the paragraph below about Stanislavski:

(taken from: http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/s12/gair_j/techniques.html)

Konstantin Stanislavski (1863-1963) was a Russian director and actor. To this day, he is one of the most influential figures in American theater and has influenced dozens upon dozens of actors and teachers. The umbrella term for his series of techniques is called Stanislavski's system, and the most common chunk of the system is "the method." This technique asks of the actor, "What would I do if I were in the character's situation?" Basically, if whatever circumstances of the scene were happening to YOU, how would you react? This question led to the analysis of motivation and objective, both of which have become so commonplace in theater that they are no longer a style; they are theater basics. What would you do? Why would you do it? Objectives, he said, should be based on actions— something the character can physically do and measurably achieve— rather than some kind of "internal" goal. This way, you can actually produce visible action onstage that the audience can see, rather than acting it all out in mind.

2. Read pages 29-30 in the book,  So You Want To Be a Film or TV Actor.

3. Identify in the chart, one piece of information that you learned about this technique.

4. Try out this technique using the monologue below: (taken from http://www.whysanity.net/monos/great.html)

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
written by Charles M. Schulz

Sally Brown: I was robbed! I spent the whole night waiting for the Great Pumpkin when I could have been out for tricks or treats! Halloween is over and I missed it! You blockhead! You kept me up all night waiting for the Great Pumpkin and all that came was a beagle! I didn't get a chance to go out for tricks or treats! And it was all your fault! I'll sue! What a fool I was. And could have had candy apples and gum! And cookies and money and all sorts of things! But no, I had to listen to you! You blockhead. What a fool I was. Trick or treats come only once a year. And I miss it by sitting in a pumpkin patch with a blockhead. You owe me restitution!

Linus: You've heard about fury in a woman scorned, haven't you?
Charlie Brown: Yes, I guess I have.
Linus: Well, that's nothing compared to the fury of a woman who has been cheated out of tricks or treats.

Meisner Technique

To learn about this technique, do the following:

1. Read the paragraph below about Meisner:

 (taken from: http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/s12/gair_j/techniques.html)

Sanford Meisner (1905-1997) was an American actor who pioneered what is now known as the Meisner technique. A form of method acting, his technique professes the importance of finding a motivation for every moment, whether that moment is silence, dialogue, or action. Like Stanislavski, he stressed doing; always having a visible indication of the character, rather than just "feeling it" internally. His technique is where the "live truthfully under fictional circumstances" comes into play. He did not want actors to merely play the emotion in the script. He wanted the subtext of the lines and emotions of the objectives guide the actor into their next moment.

Another technique Meisner was known for was memorizing lines without vocal inflections or gestures. The technique says that by having actors learn their lines "dry," the actual delivery onstage will be more natural instead of pre-prepared. He embraced spontaneity; not knowing what will happen until the moment actually occurs onstage.

2. Watch the video below - a student of Meisner describes his teachings.

3. Identify in the chart one piece of information that you learned about this technique.

4. Try out this technique using the monologue below:  

(taken from: http://www.whysanity.net/monos/cinderella.html)

A Cinderella Story
written by Leigh Dunlap

Austin (Chad Michael Murray): Okay, I know you think I'm just some...

Sam: Coward? Phony?

Austin: Okay, just listen.

Sam: No, you listen. You turned out to be exactly who I thought you were. I never pretended to be somebody else. It's been me all along. And it was me who was hurt in front of everybody. Look, I didn't come here to yell at you, okay? I know what it feels like to be afraid to show who you are. I was. But not anymore. And the thing is, I don't care what people think about me... because I believe in myself. And I know that things are gonna be okay. But even though I have no family, and no job, and no money for college... it's you that I feel sorry for. (pause) I know that guy that sent those emails is somewhere inside of you, but, I can't wait for him... because waiting for you is like waiting for rain in this drought. Useless and disappointing.

 

Meisner Technique

Watch this short video clip of one of Meisner's acting students explaining how Meisner taught acting through a method called "repetition."

Strasberg Technique

To learn about this technique, do the following:

1. Read the paragraph below about Strasberg:

(taken from: http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/s12/gair_j/techniques.html)

Lee Strasberg (1901-1982) was an American actor, acting teacher, and director who was a strong purveyor of method acting. He had a strong interest in psychology, which was quite influential in his acting techniques. He advised actors to dive fully into researching every aspect of his or her character, especially his or her backstory and personal life before the narrative of the show begins. One of his goals was to have actors become so familiar with their characters' lives, the characters would be just as constant as the actors' own lives.

Memory was also important to Strasberg. He asked actors to try and remember as many reactions, thoughts, and feelings as possible through everyday living and try to apply them to a character going through the same experiences.

2. Watch the video below about the Strasberg Technique.

3. Identify in the chart one piece of information that you learned about this technique.

4. Try out this technique using the monologue below:

(taken from: http://www.whysanity.net/monos/nemo.html)

Finding Nemo

Dory: No. No, you can't. ...STOP! Please don't go away. Please? No one's ever stuck with me for so long before. And if you leave...if you leave... I just, I remember things better with you! I do, look! P. Sherman, forty-two...forty-two... I remember it, I do. It's there, I know it is, because when I look at you, I can feel it. And...and I look at you, and I...and I'm home! Please...I don't want that to go away. I don't want to forget.

Marlin: I'm sorry, Dory. But I...do.

Strasberg Technique

Watch this short video clip of Strasberg explaining his acting techniques.