Check the method acting exercises below and learn what to expect in a method acting class at the Strasberg Institute or at any acting school that teaches Method acting. You’ll also discover sample acting exercises from this acting technique.
2) What can you expect?
1) A little “madness”
If you’re going to study “The Method”, you’ll have to forget about your inhibitions. A lot of the work you’ll do in class is about breaking through habitual social behaviors and can seem ridiculous or “crazy” to the untrained eye.
2) Up to an hour of relaxation at the beginning of every class
A Method Acting class usually starts with the students sitting in chairs spread throughout the room, doing a relaxation method exercise. Students are encouraged to use movement and voice to relieve extra tension. Often an actor will start crying or laughing during relaxation, because a lot of emotions are locked up in tense muscles and get released during the exercise. So if you walk in a class at the Strasberg Institute during relaxation, you may be a little bewildered by what you see.
3) Up to an hour of sense memory exercises
Once the actor is relaxed, he usually segues into a sense memory exercise assigned by his teacher. More advanced actors may work on other Method acting exercises such as an emotional memory exercise or an animal exercise. At this point, all the students usually work at the same time on their different assignments, although sometimes a student may be asked to perform an exercise (for example, a private moment) in front of the whole class.
4) An emotional journey
A lot of Method acting exercises can trigger strong emotional responses. You’ll want to make sure you pick a responsible acting teacher who teaches you how to be in control of your craft and not let your training overwhelm you.
5) Scene work
The second part of a method acting class is usually used for monologues and scene work. You may be asked to redo the scene several times, incorporating different sensory exercises.
6) A lot of homework
Mastering sense memory takes time and hard work. The more you practice at home, the quicker you’ll be able to re-create sensations and call on emotional memories in your scene work. For example, most method teachers would recommend you work a minimum of one hour a day on your sensory exercise on top of scene work.
3) Sample Method Acting Exercises
These few exercises will give you an idea of what this acting technique is all about and what kind of exercises you would be doing at the Strasberg Institute or in another acting classes that teaches The Method.
- Method acting exercise for Relaxation
Sit in a chair and let your body go limp like a rag doll, relaxing your neck against the top of the chair and letting your head fall back. Now, lift one arm up to the side to check for tension. You can move the arm around to check for tension in different muscles and then let the arm fall back, relaxed. Move on to do the same for the other arm and both legs, then release tension in your back, torso, face and neck. You can access the facial muscles through grimacing and check your neck by gently rolling the head from side to side. Also try to release tension in your throat and tongue. If you feel yourself tensing up even more or if you feel an emotion swelling up, take a deep breath and release a long “ah” sound, making sure you keep your throat relaxed. Continue to release the emotion through sound, so you don’t tense up again. If you are a beginning actor who has never studied Lee Strasberg’s acting method before, don’t try this Method acting exercise without being supervised by a method acting teacher. It’s hard to identify tension at first and you want to make sure you’re in a relaxed position where you won’t hurt your neck or upper back.
Continue to Page 3 to view more online acting classes on method acting, including a videotaped method acting exercise.
To view more information on this acting method, read our first page,
What is Method Acting.