So I read this article from Backstage probably 4 days ago and just haven’t had time to share about it despite being so moved and inspired when I first read it, and here I am now on Saturday morning finally getting to talk about it because it’s STILL stuck out to me.
The featured actor on September 26th edition of backstage is Ginancarlo Esposito You might know him from his terrifying role in Breaking Bad, which is where I personally recognized him from.
He was quoted in the article when asked about his approach to acting saying:
“ I say take the best and leave the rest, if you commit yourself to one technique for me it would disallow me to pull from other modalities that I feel work.”
When I read this is was like YAS! I’m glad I’m on the same page and not the only one who does this. But specifically the wording “take the best, leave the rest” really stuck with me.
Over my time as an actor and the professional training I’ve done I’ve dabbled in meisner, Stanislavsky and my most intensive modality of technique being Practial Asthetics and I am an alumnus of @atlanticactingschool where that is the only school@that teaches PA because it was developed there. I spent 2 years of my life learning PA which for those of you that are unfamiliar with that method- it was created by William H Macy and David Mamet and has strong roots in scene analysis, intention and purely listening to your scene partner and being a human on stage.
While I was at Atlantic the steps to analyze a scene were extensive and very methodical, but when you did the work the results that were yielded were impeccable and I did my best work while learning at that school.
But after I left Atlantic I was faced with my first role, let me correct that- my first lead role in Anton Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull’ playing the protagonist, Konstantin. This is such a juicy, complex role and a huge undertaking and I didn’t have much time to prepare for it since rehearsals were a little under a month to take on such a behemoth of a play that spans 4 acts in which my character is on stage in almost every scene.
When I began researching the role and beginning the ground work and inevitably creating the character as a whole and bringing that into rehearsals I was met with an expected road block: What method do I use? My default was to use Practical Asthetics because that’s how I was trained the last 2 years ( I got this role not too long out of school and it was my first since leaving school. But I found due to the IMMENSE personal nature of the material and how I view Konstantin as an extension of myself, PA wasn’t really going to help me. Instead over time I found myself leaning more into Stanislavsky and the method. I bought “An Actor Prepares” and sunk my teeth into it. ⠀
What ended up resulting was using a lot of emotional memory (which is commonly associated with the method) and deep character work like writing diary entries in Konstantin’s first person POV. ⠀
Essentially I created my own method. I did end up using PA for the parts of scenes I sincerely COULD NOT find motivation for some of Konstantin’s choices confused me and I couldn’t rely on my own personal experience to being truth to the character. For example, I would never shoot a bird and hand it to the love of my life and then threaten to kill myself all in the same sentence. Those were moments when the method wasn’t able to help me. ⠀
It was truly astounding going through that process of playing Konstantin because I created my own method using tips and tricks from past modalities and crafting my own unique process. I wrote, created a playlist, made sure to wear his clothes each rehearsal- all things that weren’t focused on in my extensive training at the Atlantic. It was thrilling, confusing, frustrating at times because I felt lost and like I should be “sticking to” the training of what my life centered around for the past 2 years. ⠀
In the end, and even now as roles as come and gone I still do the same. I pick and choose which modalities to use to create a character and I feel forunate that I’ve found my own formula, but more importantly, told myself it’s okay to use more than one and not be married to PA. ⠀
I’ve taken the best of my trainings and what has worked for me, and then experimented by meshing them all together and as a result, cultivated my own approach, hence- leaving the rest.