Intro to Acting Methods

Lesson 1: Intro to Acting Methods


Objective: Students will be able to demonstrate their ability to explain what their acting method is by writing out the definition of their own acting method and practicing traditional method acting techniques on a content-less scene.



TH:Cn11.2.II.a. Formulate creative choices for a devised or scripted drama/theatre work based on theatre research about the selected topic.

TH:Pr5.1.II.a. Refine a range of acting skills to build a believable and sustainable drama/theatre performance.


Materials: projector, laptop, VGA adapter, LOTS of white board markers, 40 Acting Technique Note Sheet, 40 Writing Pre-assessment sheets, 20 Performance Pre-assessment sheets.

Lesson 1.Acting Techniques Pre.assessment Worksheet

Lesson 1.Acting Techniques Vocabulary Notes Sheet

Lesson 1.Contentless Scenes

Lesson 1.Performance Pre.assessment Rubric


Preparation: Write starter on the board before class begins, print Note Sheets.


Hook/Starter: Write on the board, “How does Sir Ian McKellen act so well?” Have the students watch the following clip:


Afterwards, have a few of the students describe what they wrote down.


  1. Is acting just this simple? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think there is one way to act? Why or why not?


Step 1: Instruction

Explain the unit.

This next unit will be focused on each of you developing your own acting method. During this unit, you’ll learn many different ways to communicate emotions, objectives, and moods to the audience. That will be our working definition of acting method: how you communicate emotions and ideas through characters and movement.


We’ll review method acting, but the majority of the unit will be focused on new methods. At the end of this unit, you will perform a short monologue, using the acting method of your choice. You will also write a short 1 page paper on how different acting methods change the way you express yourself onstage, and what your own acting method is. The goal of this unit is for each of you to begin to define what works best for you, as well as introduce you to different ways of doing acting.


Hand out the Acting Techniques Note Sheet. Explain that the things that we are going to focus on four different types of acting methods. There is no way we could cover everything in that method, or all the famous practitioners within each method, but this will give you a solid base. In your paper that you will write, I will be looking for these vocabulary, and your ability to apply them to acting. Make sure you know what these are. After the review day, you will turn this note sheet in for credit.


Graffiti Board:

Ask the students, “What are some things that must be part of an acting method?”

Have the students all come up to the board and write something. Tell them it is okay if someone else writes down what they were thinking, but they should write something anyways. You may need to give them an example like (Decide objectives, do intense physical warm-ups, etc.)



  1. What are things that are similar here?
  2. Does anything on here seem to contradict something else?
  3. Do you think there are several different acting methods represented here?
    1. Explain that most of the students have only interacted with one type of acting method, the psychological method. The pioneer of this method was Stanislavski, who lived in Russia. He is certainly not the only person to have contributed to the development of this acting method, but he has had a large influence on it. This acting method is the most popular in theatre and film (especially film.) It depends on “getting into the mind” of the character. Some people call this method “method acting.”



However, there are so many other ways to access emotion and communicate things to the audience. Throughout this unit, you’ll need to make decisions on what you think is most crucial to different types of acting methods, and what things are crucial to your own acting method.


Pre-Assessment Part 1: What is your method?

Pass out the pre-assessment papers. Explain to the students that this is just a pre-assessment so they will get credit for just doing the assignment, and try to answer as best as they can.


Pre-Assessment Part 2: Review Stanislavski/method acting

We are going to start by the popular Stanislavski techniques that most of you should be most familiar with.


What are some techniques you’ve learned in previous drama classes?

  • Objectives, tactics, super-objectives, room conflict, emotional/sense recall, urgency, etc.

Do you notice how these all have to do with getting your mind to think like the character? That is because Stanislavski is a huge component of psychological method acting. The emotion is derived from the psyche.


We are going to review objectives and tactics today.

Step 1: Have students divide into pairs with the people they are sitting next to in class. In their partnerships, have them quickly discuss what objectives and tactics are. Then ask a few groups to share what they discussed.


Make sure they understand

  1. Objective: What the character wants.
  2. Tactic: How the character tries to get what they want. Best if they are in the pure verb form, for example, to convince, to beat, to challenge, etc.


Hand out the content-less scenes. Within their partnerships, have the students write down their objectives, and then the different tactics their character uses. They must use at least 2 tactics per character in this scene.


Step 2: When they are done have them perform in front of the class, or, if time is short, for other groups in the class. Write specific feedback for each group on a small piece of paper, and grade them according to the pre-assessment rubric below. Afterwards, discuss anything you noticed from their performances. Tell them what they did well, and what they could improve on. Have a student hand out the specific feedback you wrote during the performances.


Then discuss:

  1. What do you think are the pros of using objectives/tactics, or even just psychological methods in general?


Conclusion: Good work everyone! We’ll continue discussing the psychological method tomorrow.


Assessment Scoring: Students will be given 20 participation points for the day, 5 points for the starter, and 20 points for the two pre-assessments. 10 of the participation points will come from participation in the class activities, the other 10 will come from participation in the class discussions.


Adaptations: Students who may need extended time to write out their pre-assessment response can use time at the end of the class when we are introducing the unit.