The Method

I was born in a stone house that belonged to a magnificently gracious one-time Broadway actress and her set-carpenter husband. Acting was one of my first loves, and one of the books my father gave to me as a present was All the World's a Stage. I couldn't agree more, though my theatre experience is far behind me, and my thespian society membership card is now yellowed, unrenewed.
My acting coach was, the story goes, shunned out of Hollywood for some kind of scandal; in any case, I was taught by someone directly connected to the dawn of Method Acting in the West: replete with the story of how the skittish Jimmy Dean dealt with his debut with Liz Taylor. He, ahem, released his bladder in front of the whole crew, which included Taylor herself: after embarrassing himself in that way, he was no longer afraid of his novice gaffes. 
This evening, I caught a few glimpses of a movie, Flesh and Blood, which reminded me of the Method - but it was something about the script, how the script itself was Method (one character describes seeing someone who was strange, strange to see a man whose two legs seemed tied together), and I remembered the acting coach saying, an actor can only be as good as the script.
In a flash, I recalled the instructions for how to pretend to look for something; one is to zero-in on certain points on the floor to signify intent. In this way, one registers, as one is 'looking,' the shadows, crevaces in the surface.
Beyond adolescence, when I got my first job at a real paper (i.e. not shipping news), I got teased for not knowing the names of actors and actresses. But the sensibility of acting that I had been given was so different from that which I started to see on screen that I'd lost interest. Their joshing only entrenched my feeling that I understood better the dying generation than the one at its zenith, not to mention my own. I still feel this way.


There is something very human about the Method. In fact, there is a passage in Stanislavsky's An Actor Prepares where he distinguishes his goals from a ubiquitous mechanical style of acting. The script is broken down into emotional 'beats': each of which comes with its own choreography as dictated by one's own recall of memories that evoke memories of relevant emotions. There is no pretense in this acting.
It is acting of the guts (thanks Jimmy). And lest you think that I am being too profane or crude by writing that, my appology will lie in the haruspex of ancient times: the divination of the entrails of animals (entrails which are now back in fashion as foods to be consumed by adventurous gourmands). There is a beautiful post on the extent of the signs that the ancients read, including the insides of animals. There is also a paper (cited here) that explains that the entrails of birds, iynges, were once strung across a circle to create a tailsman for love. There is so much more to the saying you've got guts than we 'moderns' allow.
I was not necessarily a brilliant journalist; when I started out, my seniors would laugh at and change my headlines - the poetic kind we see more and more of today. But since I finished that school, I became old school, and have come to detest ambiguity in caps. And I will to my grave defend the wine that was served at the most prestigious of media giants I worked for. It takes so much strength to have guts and to keep one's job. That is the Method. To spill one's guts occasionally requires far more guts than to eat them when they are well prepared.



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