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Method Acting: From Self to Stage and Screen

ENGL 2882.401
also offered as: THAR 2810/CIMS 2810
TR 12-1:29pm


What, exactly, does it mean to be a “method actor”? Jeremy Strong became notorious on television’s Succession for “staying in character” while filming, to the great irritation of his castmates. Jared Leto “transformed” himself by gaining sixty pounds for a role in Chapter 27, then losing another thirty for a role in Dallas Buyer’s Club. Are such approaches really “method” acting? Are they healthy and sustainable? And do they produce truly compelling performances? This course aims to demystify “the method” through a combination of historical inquiry and hands-on acting work. We will explore “the method” by tracing its historical, theatrical roots, from the core theories and practices of Russian actor-director Konstantin Stanislavsky, through the American Group Theatre experiments of the 1930s, the heyday of New York’s Actors Studio in the 1950s, and its culmination in iconic stage and film performances. (One prime example is Marlon Brando’s iconic portrayal of Stanley in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire, as directed by Elia Kazan). How did American playwrights, directors, and actors collaborate to produce the aesthetic widely known as “the method”? We will answer this question by reading historical, theoretical, and dramatic texts, viewing selected films, and executing practical acting exercises. Course assessment will comprise participation, facilitation, short responses, and a final project that can take the form of a research paper, presentation, or performance.



English Major Requirements
  • Sector 1 Theory and Poetics (AETP)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
  • Drama Concentration (AEDR)
College Attributes