10 Fundamental Principles
The 10 Fundamental Principles of Acting can be found in every major acting technique including: Konstantin Stanislavski (the father of The Method), Lee Strasberg, Sanford Meisner, and Stella Adler.
These principles quite literally comprise what the craft of acting IS and can be studied and ultimately mastered independent of any specific ideology.
Below are the 10 Fundamental Principles of Acting:
You are the master builder of every role you play, and the given circumstances are the blueprint of how to construct your performance. Learn how to read material with a fine-tooth comb and extract all the vital facts, conditions and events to build a three-dimensional character and craft a truthful and compelling performance.
Since the dawn of man, psychology, religion and philosophy have been attempting to crack the riddle of who we are and why we do the things we do. Fortunately, as actors, we are given a blueprint (Given Circumstances) that gives us a peek into our character’s desires and actions. However, in order to deeply understand and inhabit our characters, we need to do a more thorough excavation. Below are three specific techniques we will study and apply to fully imbed ourselves into our character’s hearts and minds.
We have all been shaped into the people we are today by specific forces. All of us have been affected by our parents, our neighborhoods, our education or lack thereof. Learn how to specifically explore your character’s past and present life through a series of pointed questions to unearth their deepest feelings and motivations and find a deep communion with them.
B.) SUPER OBJECTIVE
We all have desires that we feverishly want to fulfill. These deep drives are part of being human, they are imbedded in our DNA. In every role you play, your character has an over-arching need they desperately want to attain by story’s end that informs everything they do. Identifying and personalizing your character’s Super Objective is a powerful step in crafting a cohesive and dynamic performance.
Every person has a mix of both positive and negative qualities that is unique to them. A quality is an attribute or an inherent characteristic that makes someone who they are, like a fingerprint of the soul. Through exploration and analysis of the text, learn how to identify and emotionally connect to the dominant qualities of your character and craft a specific and human characterization.
Human beings are hardwired to create meaningful goals and pursue them. It is how we are built. In every scene you play, your character desperately wants to win something and is fighting tooth and nail to get it. Learn how to frame active, specific and emotionally-charged objectives to bring your characters fully to life.
Obstacles are what block your character from winning their objectives. They create conflict, which is the cornerstone of both drama and comedy, alike. Learn how to identify the two types of obstacles that threaten your character from fulfilling their objectives and become fully engaged in the fight against them.
Human beings are imbued with logic and reason, but rarely do these drive our objectives and actions. Emotions are the true lifeblood of our existence. We desire and pursue people and things because we believe they will make us feel a certain way. Learn how to isolate and connect to the dominant emotions that drive your character and create a living, breathing, human being.
Plays and scripts are typically divided into large units called acts, acts are divided into smaller units called scenes, and scenes are divided further into micro units called beats. Learn how to identify the beats in scene work to craft a specific and dynamic performance.
As human beings, we have more than one proverbial trick up our sleeve when it comes to getting what we want. Tactics are the specific ways your character goes about achieving their objectives. They are active and are designed to annihilate any obstacle that stands in their path. Learn how to identify and connect to your character’s tactics to create a visceral and dynamic performance.
The connection we have to the people in our lives is immensely important to us. Not only does it play a large role in how we feel about our lives as a whole, it also has a major impact on our behavior. Who we are talking to has a huge effect on how we engage with them. Learn how to specifically define and emotionally connect to all the people in your character’s life.
All Fundamental Principle work MUST terminate in an emotional place that resonates deep within you. Although the work engages our intellect, it is only effective when it is available to us via our instinctual self and not our conscious minds. Learn how to use and implement the techniques of Imagination, Emotional Recall and the Magic As If to connect to your characters in the deepest way possible—through the truth of yourself.
You have done all your work and it’s finally opening night, seconds before the curtain rises to a packed house, or you are about to walk into your last callback for a great role in a major feature film. Now what? Abandoning control and result-oriented acting can be a daunting prospect. However, your greatest performance can only be found in living truthfully from one unanticipated moment to the next. Learn the techniques of Emotional Preparation, Character Incantation and Meditation to springboard you into a raw and instinctual performance.
“You’ll begin to act when you can forget your technique—when it is so securely inside you that you need not call upon it consciously.”
– Stella Adler