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5 Types Of Acting Techniques Every Actor Should Follow

When starting as an actor, you come across several types of acting. So which to choose? 

There is no right or wrong acting technique. You have to find the technique that suits you as an actor. 

Here I am giving you a list of the best and most effective acting techniques. By going through the list, you will get the hang of each technique and be in a much better position to decide which is best for you. 

Best Acting Techniques To Follow

1. Physical Acting Techniques

The physical acting technique is the earliest type of acting developed in the late 1800s. 

The technique involves acting with movements or gestures. That is why it is popularly also known as the movement technique. 

Several techniques use the movement approach. The most popular out of all is the Alexander technique. Most acting schools teach Alexander techniques to improve the movement of actors. 

The other notable physical technique involves Jacques Lecoq, Corporeal Mime, View Points, The Suzuki Method, Williamson Technique, and Laban Movement Analysis. 

If you are starting, I suggest trying the Alexander technique and mime. It is good if you want to work on your movement and presence. 

These are some of the best books for learning physical acting techniques:

Build character worksheet

  • Introduction to the Alexander Technique: A Practical Guide for Actors (Acting Essentials) – Get It On Amazon
  • Physical Expression on Stage and Screen: Using the Alexander Technique to Create Unforgettable Performances – Get It On Amazon

2. Classical Acting Technique

Classical acting may look similar to method acting, but there are differences. 

The method is popular among the actors who act in Shakespearean plays. The reason being the technique offers everything needed to play a Shakespearean character. 

The core of this method is the precise movement and strong voice. 

The classical acting  technique has five pillars:

  • Imagination
  • Behavior
  • Improvisation
  • Reacting to Stimuli
  • Script analysis

Even though the method seems old, modern actors like Benedict Cumberbatch, Jessica Chastain, Cate Blanchette, Judi Dench, Ian Mckellan, and many others use this technique. 

I have seen Benedict Cumberbatch use this technique a lot. 

Just look at his performance as Smaug in The Hobbit. It is a lot about the use of movement and voice.


3. Stanislavski Acting Technique

Stanislavski has considered the father of the modern-day method of acting. For every person who dreams of being an actor, the first step is to purchase the book An Actor Prepares. 

We all have done it. 

His approach to acting allows actors to create real and believable characters. Or you can say it allows you to get into the character’s shoes. 

The core of the method is to create the given circumstances by asking such as why, when, who, or where along with using tools like magic if. 

The method allows the actor to create the inner life of the character. After understanding the inner life, the actor can go about achieving the objectives and super objectives with appropriate physical action. 

Stanislavski also gives preparation tools like emotion memory. It helps the actor create a bank of memories from which he or she can withdraw whenever required on stage.

From Stanislavski’s technique, many acting gurus took inspiration and developed their techniques. Many of them were students of Stanislavski. 

Acting coaches like Stella Adler, Uta Hagen, Meisner, etc., all use Stanislavski’s ideas. 

Learn More About:

If you want to know more about Stanislavski’s acting technique, read this post. 

There are a lot of places to study Stanislavsky. Following are some of the best places:

  • The American Laboratory Theatre
  • Tisch School of the Arts
  • Actor’s Studio
  • Yale School Of Drama
  • Stella Adler Studio

To learn more about the technique, read our post on the Stanislavsky technique.

4. Chekhov Acting Technique

Most of the acting techniques today evolved from Stanislavsky’s teaching. But Michael took a completely different approach from other types of acting. He used a psycho-physical approach. 

His approach involved invoking real emotions using physical movement. 

In my experience, many actors are too shy, and working from inside to outside to play a scene is not possible. 

These types of actors do the best possible preparations, but sometimes it is hard for them to covert that preparation into performance. The movement doesn’t show what they feel when they are playing the scene because their shy nature restricts their movements and facial expressions. 

For them, a method like the Chekhov technique is so useful. 

The technique involves creating a psychological gesture that shows the qualities of the characters and their desire in the story. 

Once the desire is found, the actor can carry that gesture to play the scene. 

You can find more on his technique in the book To the actor:

There are a lot of places to learn Chekhov acting techniques:

  • Michael Checkhov Acting Studio, NYC
  • The Michael Chekhov School
  • Terry Kinckerboker Studio
  • Michael Chekhov Actors Studio, Boston

The Books you can read to learn more about the technique:

To learn more about the technique, read our post on the Michael Chekhov technique.

5. Meisner Acting Technique

The Meisner acting Technique has made its special place among modern actors. I have seen many of the actors switching to Meisner even after years of practice. 

Some of the acting techniques make actors focus more on preparation work. Actors spend hours with pen and paper. 

But Meisner gives a more practical approach and focuses more on doing and avoiding thinking. 

If the character in the scenes is supposed to button his shirt, the actor must button his shirt in real. According to Meisner, doing is much easier and more believable than actually pretending it. 

The core principles of the Meisner technique are emotional preparation, repetition, and improvisation. 

  • Emotion Preparation – The actor must use some memory or circumstances that put the actor in the character’s shoes. When an actor is emotionally in the same state, he or she can enter the scene. 
  • Repetition – It is one of the most powerful exercises for actors. It helps the actor get out of his head and focus more on the other character. When you are listening and observing the other character, it is easier to react instinctively. And reactive instinctively brings a lot of realism to the scene. 
  • Improvisation– Instinct and improvisation go hand in hand. This is the reason improvisation is one of the main principles of the Meisner technique. However, Meisner provides strict guidelines to actors when working on improvisation. The actor should carry out any action unless he is moved or provoked by the stimuli. There should be a stimulus for every action the actor takes in the scene. 

If you want to study the Meisner technique, there are plenty of schools and teachers out there. Follow are the most popular schools that teach the technique:

  • The Meisner Center, LA 
  • The Meisner Technique Studio 
  • The Acting Studio

Also if you want to learn more by reading, you can get books such as

  • Sanford Meisner on Acting – Buy It From Amazon
  • The Actor’s Art and Craft: William Esper Teaches the Meisner Technique – Buy It From Amazon

To learn more about the technique, read our post on the Meisner technique.

Acting Techniques For Beginners: Which To Choose?

As you can see, there are many types of acting techniques, but as a beginner, how do you choose the right one. 

Before choosing a technique, I suggest you know what kind of person you are. Most importantly, know if you are an extrovert or an introvert. 

Ask your family and friends about yourself. You can ask them things like what kind of person you are, how expressive you are, or how open you are.

For extroverts and open

If you fall in this category, you can go for acting techniques like Stanislavsky. This is perfect for you. The reason being you are a person who works more on instincts, and you are not too much in your head. 

For Introverts and not so open

You are a person who thinks too much before acting. This means you have a habit of curbing your instinct. For such a person, you must choose the technique that makes you do things physically and gets you out of your head. I suggest going for Chekhov or Meisner or go for even physical technique if you think too much. 

These techniques will open you up and make you more expressive. 

As a beginner, there are plenty of options. You should explore all techniques that suit you and choose the one that fits you the best.  

Film Acting Techniques: Which To Choose?

When you consider acting on screen, it is completely different from being on stage in front of a live audience.

While acting on stage, you need loud moments and loud dialogues. But when you are standing in front of a camera, everything has to be dialed down. 

The reason for this is that camera is much closer compared to the audience in the theatre. 

The camera can easily pick up even the smallest moments and softest sounds. 

Most of the acting techniques we have mentioned about our suitable for Film acting except for physical technique, but you will help to adjust a little for the cameras. 

If you have to ask which technique is right for films, you should go for either Stanislavsky or Meisner technique. 

Several actors have trained in these techniques and made great careers in the film industry.

Final Thought

There are many other types of acting techniques, but most of them have been developed from these five techniques or use some elements from different acting techniques. You have to find the technique that suits your style of acting and add exercises from other techniques if you want to improve on some specific part of your skill.