5 Different Types of Acting Techniques

If you have an interest in acting and the world of drama and theatre, you may have heard of or used these acting techniques before. You may find that one suits your style more than another. Many actors adapt or combine multiple techniques to achieve their desired effect. In this blog, we cover the main 5 different types of acting techniques and how to apply them. 

1. Meisner Acting Technique 

Created by Sanford Meisner, this technique emphasises the importance of spontaneity and encourages the actor not to overthink. It focuses on active listening and honest reactions to other actors, allowing the performer to be fully present in the moment and respond authentically.

Think of the Meisner Technique as a game of emotional ‘ping pong’ where you and your fellow actors bounce emotions back and forth, staying fully present in the moment. Many acting exercises are inspired by the Meisner Technique, particularly those that include word games and repetition. 

When on stage, don’t be afraid to react with what first comes to mind. Improvisation is a key part of the Meisner Technique. By staying connected to your own emotions and the reality of the scene, you will be able to create authentic and compelling performances. This technique requires confidence, but little effort – simplicity is best! 

Famous actors and actresses who use or have used the Meisner Technique include Grace Kelly, Gregory Peck, and Robert Duvall. 

acting techniques

2. Stanislavski Method

Developed by Konstantin Stanislavski, this technique focuses on creating believable and emotionally truthful performances. It emphasises the use of imagination to connect with the character’s objectives, motivations, and circumstances. Imagine you are ‘living’ the role, not just performing it! 

If you are wanting to give a really believable performance, you may want to consider using the Stanislavski Method. It’s like a toolkit that helps you dig deeper into your character’s mind and heart. Use your creativity to put yourself in their shoes and ask, “What would I do if I were them?” (this is Stanislavski’s magic ‘if’). 

Draw on your own experiences and memories to connect with the character’s emotions and motivations. It’s all about finding that sweet spot where you feel you have become the character and making the audience believe it too! Essentially, the Stanislavski Method is like your secret weapon to make acting feel as real and natural as possible.

Famous actors and actresses who were inspired by the Stanislavski Method include Daniel Day-Lewis, James Dean, and Dustin Hoffman.

3. Method Acting Technique 

Picture yourself as an actor who wants to dive headfirst into a character’s world. Method acting is like jumping into a pool and fully immersing yourself. You go beyond just memorising lines and hitting marks. Instead, you become a detective, investigating every little detail about your character. You dig deep into their psyche, trying to understand their thoughts, emotions, and even physicality. You might even go on a research spree, reading books, talking to people, and doing out-of-the-box stuff to get into their shoes. 

When it’s showtime, you channel all that hard work and tap into your personal experiences to bring out the raw, genuine emotions needed for the role. It’s like living and breathing as the character, blurring the line between the real you and the fictional person you’re portraying. 

Method acting is intense, but it can create performances that leave a lasting impact. It draws on the techniques outlined in the Stanislavski Method and was developed by American theatre director Lee Strasberg.

Famous actors and actresses who use or have used Method Acting principles in their performances include Jim Carrey, Robert De Niro, and Meryl Streep. 

acting techniques

4. Physical Theatre 

Imagine acting, but without relying on words. Physical Theatre is a captivating form of performance where the body takes centre stage. In Physical Theatre, words may take a backseat as performers express themselves through the power of their bodies. It’s all about using movement, gestures, and expressions to tell a story and evoke emotions. 

Complex narratives can be revealed solely through movement. It’s a technique that often pushes the boundaries of what can be achieved on stage, leaving audiences inspired by the artistry and creativity of the human form. 

In Physical Theatre, the body has to become a powerful tool for communication, conveying everything from joy to sadness to fear. You don’t need fancy sets or elaborate props because the performers themselves become the spectacle. It can be a truly mesmerising and captivating form of theatre when executed well!

Famous actors and actresses who use or have used Physical Theatre in their performances include Jacques Lecoq and famous mime artist Marcel Marceau. 

acting techniques

5. Chekhov Technique

Finally, let’s dive into the Chekhov Technique, a theatrical approach named after the legendary Russian playwright, Anton Chekhov. With the Chekhov Technique, you learn to balance the external and internal aspects of a character, focusing on physicality, psychology, and imagination. If you are using the Chekhov Technique, you will need to get used to exploring the depths of your character’s emotions and inner lives, beyond the script!

You might even engage in “psychological gesture” exercises to bring your character to life, where you embody the essence of your character through a specific physical movement. The Chekhov Technique is all about finding the heartbeat of your character to create performances that are layered. If you are wanting to test out the Chekhov Technique, get ready to unleash your creativity and don’t be afraid to get physical.

Famous actors and actresses who use or have used the Chekhov Technique in their performances include Johnny Depp and Clint Eastwood. 

Why not give these acting techniques a try and see which one works for you? Check out iampro’s on-demand online acting classes to strengthen your actor’s toolkit and performance skills some more.