Teaching techniques?

Dean CareyQ&A

DC’s Creative Exchange — Q&A

“With a variety of acting methods available for today’s actors to learn from, i.e Strasberg, Chubbuck etc, what value do you place in them for teaching techniques that will serve the actor well? Do they each carry nuggets of ‘must learn’ material, or do you consider that they may actually inhibit the creativity that is innate within most people that want to pursue acting as a creative endeavour?”
— Pat, Australia.

Hey Pat,

A great question. Many actors latch onto a method they relate to and understand, and one that works for them creatively. It gives them a framework or context to see their acting journey within, as well as seeing the method (or aspects of the method) providing results in their work.

For me, (and for my school, ACA), we don’t teach or align ourselves with any one method.

Over the course of the three years’ training, we equip the students with a myriad of strategies. These strategies are practical, they help distinguish what is required by the work and offer solutions by which to solve any acting demand being made upon them. These strategies allow the actor to work independently and consistently with any director, actors, any genre and with any material.

Methods can be seen as recipes, but the question is, is that method flexible, movable, adaptable? Can you work with any directors, actors, genres and with any material using the method of choice? Personally, I wouldn’t suggest an actor use one method and one method only.

I would encourage actors to find their own method, as in, utilise any number of aspects from any number of sources which give them techniques they carry with them. These techniques should give them precision under pressure, for that’s the aim of any technique: to allow each actor the confidence and skill to rise to any acting demand and challenge.

I see technique as any number of tools to use as required to deliver what the work requires.

And yes, I do see a danger in subscribing to a method and in the process of learning that method, losing contact with your natural instincts and ending up second-guessing yourself as you ‘serve’ the method. (Obviously a much longer conversation is required on this topic as there are many aspects to your question to flesh out. But I hope what I have shared helps.)