WEEK
2 – Method Acting

Elaborating on the
Stanislavski technique, we learned about its different practitioners in the US
and their individual focus – Such as Sanford Meisner’s emphasis on acting and reacting
as well as Lee Strasberg’s emotional memory technique. In this session however,
we focused on Uta Hagen’s approach which includes many practical exercises to
familiarise oneself with a character and their background.

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At the start of the
lesson, we were asked to write up a character biography for our character from
last week’s scene – In my case, Rowena from Masterpieces.
Using Hagen’s categories

1.     Sociological
(including aspects like class, education, status, origin and relationships)

2.     Psychological
(such as the characters’ likes and dislikes, needs and emotional status)

and

3.     Appearance
(meaning their clothing and physical appearance)

as well as her essential
questions, namely

1.    
Who am I?

2.    
Where am I?

3.    
What are the given circumstances?

4.    
What am I trying to achieve?

5.    
What’s around me?

6.    
What’s my relationship to the things &
people around me?

7.    
Why am I there?                     (Hagen and Frankel, 1973)

to be answered in the
name of the character, it was fun and interesting at the same time to extract
the given details from the text and then build on them to create a fleshed-out
imaginary version of Rowena.

As a second exercise, we
had to write short one-minute monologues for our characters about an object
that is of personal interest to them. It gave us the opportunity to use our
character biography to come up with original content and play with the
character in a different environment. I also found it useful for kick-starting
creativity when you are stuck for fresh ideas about what to do with your part.