The Greatest Acting Teachers

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We all have our favourite actors and look forward to seeing them perform in their latest film. For many people, the reason they choose to see a particular film can be because of the actor involved. But what is it that makes an actor? We don’t often think of acting as a craft that needs to be learned and we forget that most of the actors we see on the big screen have spent hours developing their skills and perfecting their craft to be able to perform so well in front of the camera.

When it comes to learning acting, actors will often want to study with a certain teacher or learn a certain technique that they believe will make them a better actor. Many of these teachers and techniques have become famous themselves – so we thought we’d take a look at the Greatest Acting Teachers

The Greatest Acting Teachers

Konstantin Stanislavsky

Stanislavsky is best known for developing the system or theory of acting called the Stanislavsky system, or Stanislavsky method. The Stanislavski system or method is an approach to theatre and film acting focuses on creating an emotionally expressive and authentic performance enabled through preparation and rehearsal. Actors internalize their character’s inner life, including their motivations and emotional states. Stanislavski’s System of acting which was spread over the world by his students, such as Michael Chekhov, Aleksei Dikij, Stella Adler, Viktor Tourjansky, and Richard Boleslawski among many


Michael Chekhov

Michael Chekhov developed an acting technique, a ‘psycho-physical approach’, which centralises transformation, working with impulse, imagination and inner and outer gesture. Chekhov’s technique offers clear and practical tools in working with imagination, feelings and atmosphere. His students included Gregory Peck, Marilyn Monroe, Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Quinn, Jack Palance, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., Elia Kazan, Clint Eastwood, Yul Brynner.


Lee Strasberg

If you’ve heard of the term “Method acting” then you should know its creator, Lee Strasberg,” Strasberg introduced us to psychological truthfulness through affective memory, or using personal recollections and replicating sensations to colour a character’s emotions. He requires actors to go beyond emotional memory and use a technique called “Substitution” to temporarily become the characters they are portraying. His students included Dustin Hoffman, Jane Fonda, Elia Kazan, Jon Voight, Angelina Jolie, and Marilyn Monroe.


Stella Adler

Adler believed that actors must rely on their imaginations. She taught that the way to a good performance is through artistic independence, imagination, action, script interpretation, and the cultivation of a rich humanity. Adler also championed strong choices, using a simple principle every actor should keep in mind: “Don’t be boring.” Her students included Robert De Niro, Elaine Stritch, and Marlon Brando.


Sanford Meisner

The goal of the Meisner approach is for the actor to not focus on themselves and instead concentrate on the other actors in the immediate environment. Meisner emphasized instinct over affective memory, and worked on how acting is reacting to a scene partner over inner turmoil. Meisner belived in “the reality of doing,” and “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances”. Her students included Diane Keaton, Sandra Bullock, and Christoph Waltz.


Uta Hagen

Hagen’s acting techniques encourage actors to avoid over-intellectualizing their processes and instead root themselves in rigorous observation of daily life. The five key elements of Hagen’s technique are substitution, transference, specificity, authenticity, and preparation. Her students included Al Pacino, Liza Minnelli, and Whoopi Goldberg.


Interested in teaching acting?

StageScreen Classes  Acting and Teaching Diploma Course (Qualification Course)

This course is designed for adults with plenty of performing experience. Students have the option of studying for a teaching qualification in speech and drama or an acting diploma.


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