Main articles: Method acting and Stanislavski's system
Method acting is a technique developed from the acting 'system' created in the early 20th century by Konstantin Stanislavski in his work at the Moscow Art Theatre and its studios. The Group Theatre first popularised the Method in the 1930s; it was subsequently advanced and developed in new directions by Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner, Uta Hagen, Lee Strasberg (at the Actors Studio in the 1940s and 50s), and others. In Stanislavski's system', the actor analyzes the character in order to play him or her with psychological realism and emotional authenticity. Using the Method, an actor may recall emotions or reactions from his or her own life and use them to identify with the character being portrayed.
Method actors are often characterized as immersing themselves so totally in their characters that they continue to portray them even off-stage or off-camera for the duration of the project. However, this is a popular misconception. While some actors do employ this approach, it is generally not taught as part of the Method. Stella Adler, who was a member of the Group Theatre, along with Strasberg, emphasised a different approach of using creative imagination.
Method acting offers a systematic form of actor training in which the actor's sensory, psychological, and emotional abilities are developed; it revolutionized theatre in the United States.
Presentational and Representational Acting
Main article: Presentational acting and Representational acting
Presentational acting refers to a relationship between actor and audience, whether by direct address or indirectly by specific use of language, looks, gestures or other signsindicating that the character or actor is aware of the audience's presence. (Shakespeare's use of punning and wordplay, for example, often has this function of indirect contact.)
In representational acting, "actors want to make us 'believe' they are the character; they pretend." The illusion of the fourth wall with the audience as voyeurs is striven for.