A New And Revolutionary Method Acting Approach: Enhanced Method
A personal message from the desk of Brian Timoney, creator of Enhanced Method
Dear Aspiring Actor,
Enhanced Method is a unique method acting approach that draws upon the teachings of past method acting educators and developed further by myself to create an approach that is the “only one of it’s kind”.
I have dedicated my life to method acting, and over the years I have discovered new aspects to this way of working. In fact, I have gone to great lengths to discover new tools and techniques to enhance The Method for the modern actor.
Now, you may be wondering why I have enhanced an already very successful technique. Method Acting is already recognized as one of the most successful acting techniques with 80% of Best Actor Oscars since the year 2000 being won by method actors, so why the need to enhance it?
It’s a good question, and there are two major reasons why.
- There has been newly discovered (and until recently) unpublished material by the early pioneers of method acting. I’m talking about two people in particular; Yevgeny Vahktangov and Nikolai Demidov. I have now incorporated their work into my Enhanced Method.
- The Method as we know it, was developed by Lee Strasberg in the 1930s/40s. It has never been added to or altered since that time. However, since then, there have been significant new discoveries in the area of modern psychology and major changes in what is demanded from the actor in today’s fast paced industry. I have included and taken account of this in Enhanced Method.
That’s the short explanation. Now let me explain in more detail, starting with the first point above.
Yevgeny Vahktangov is a very important figure in the development of The Method. He lived from 1883-1922 in Russia and was an actor, director, acting teacher and colleague of Constantin Stanislavski. Stanislavski had developed a process of training actors that became world renowned which he called The System. Vakhtangov taught The System for Stanislavski at the Moscow Arts Theatre but became disillusioned with the results he was getting from it. He felt it was too cumbersome and analytical and seemed to inhibit many actors instead of setting them free and allowing them to enter into a creative state. So, he changed how he taught students and developed his own approach which was a much more organic in nature. The results were outstanding. His work became legendary in Russia, and many consider him to be an acting genius. I wouldn’t disagree.
Unfortunately, Vakhtangov didn’t document his process in any great detail. After his death there remained fragmented notes, documented talks he gave and second-hand accounts from actors and students he worked with. So, much of his technique was unknown to people who did not directly work with him.
Vakhtangov had died before Lee Strasberg (creator of The Method) came on the scene, but Lee was taught acting by Richard Boleslawski, who was in turn taught by Vakhtangov. Therefore, it is my belief, that the biggest influence in the creation of The Method was not Stanislavski but Vakhtangov and his organic technique. I recognize that Stanislavski made a major contribution to the birth of the process, but the foundations really come from Vakhtangov.
Lee Strasberg himself tips his hat to this. He once said this about Vakhtagov:
“If you examine the work of the Stanislavski System, as made use of by Stanislavski, you see one result. If you examine it in the work of one of his great pupils, Vakhtangov — who influenced our thinking and activity — you will see a completely different result. Vakhtangov’s work was skillfully done, his use of the Method even more brilliant and more imaginative than Stanislavski’s. Vakhtangov achieved totally different results.” Lee Strasberg
When Lee created The Method he would have had very little documented material on how Vakhtangov worked, but from what he did know he managed to create The Method.
Recently there has been new documentation and information that has been published for the first time in English that has shed more details on Vakhtangov’s approach. These new notes come from the hand of Vakhtangov himself and another friend and colleague of his, Nikolai Demidov.
Nikolai Demidov was a Russian actor and acting teacher at the Moscow Arts Theatre too, and he worked closely with Stanislavski and Vakhtangov. He was considered Stanislavski’s right-hand man. Demidov after teaching The System for many years came to the same conclusion as Vakhtangov that The System didn’t work and created his own organic technique. He worked in a similar way to Vakhtangov. The Russian government at the time didn’t approve of Demidov speaking out about the failure of The System as Stanislavski was a world revered acting teacher. So Demidov’s work was not widely released, and it’s only very recently that his work has been released and published in English.
The discovery of his work has been, in my opinion, one of the most important discoveries within the acting industry for a very long time. Why? It lays out a step-by-step organic technique very different from The System that was used to great effect by Demidov and most likely, by Vahktangov too.
In creating Enhanced Method, I have gone through the newly discovered and previously unpublished materials of Vakhtangov and Demidov and filled in all the gaps that most likely Lee wasn’t privy too. This has lead to significant improvements in the technique.
I have also created my own unique acting tools and exercises inspired by Strasberg, Vakhtangov and Demidov together with new discoveries in modern psychology into Enhanced Method.
I have spent the last three years studying this new material, carrying out experiments and painstakingly documenting the new work. As a result, I have created a unique sequence of exercises that allows the actor to live unconsciously on stage/set and enter into a strong creative state at will. It allows the actor to be free, spontaneous and emotionally powerful on demand consistently. It brings a level of depth and reality that is second to none.
This is not taught in any other drama or acting school in the world. Most acting schools in the UK will be focusing on The System, which, as discussed, many early practitioners of The System didn’t believe worked.
Enhanced Method is a technique designed especially for today’s modern method actor.
More About Method Acting:
Method Acting allows you to draw upon real emotion while on stage or set
The Method arose to resolve an age old issue for the actor – how to become inspired on cue. As an actor, you have to be able to summon inspiration when the curtain rises or when “Action” is called. This can be a hit or miss experience for many actors. If inspiration does not occur, you are forced to imitate or ‘fake’ the experiences of the character – rather than actually experience them. This can leave you feeling unfulfilled and the audience unmoved.
The Method is a technique allowing you to inspire yourself at will, in part, by reliving your own life experiences and channelling them through the character. This produces real experiences on stage, bringing a high level of depth, believability and spontaneity to your work.
Acting a role is not just learning lines, stage business, set responses and imitating what you did before – it is creating the inner life of the character; including the character’s ongoing thoughts, sensations, perceptions and emotions.
Training the Instrument
In order to do this, you must first master your instrument – Yourself. Unlike a painter who has a paint brush, or a violinist who has a violin, you, the actor, only have yourself – the instrument.
Your instrument is capable of a huge range of emotions, sensations and experiences, and you also bring your own unique personal make-up; mental, physical and emotional to acting.
In order to sensitise you and allow you to use what is available within your instrument, we begin by training the senses. We all experience the world through our senses – we see, we hear, we touch, we smell and we taste. When you train and use your senses in conjunction your memories, it can have a powerful effect on you. This is called Sense and Affective Memory – see Al Pacino’s quote (above, right).
You then fuse your own personal emotion with that of the character and event you are portraying. This allows you to go beyond the conventional and effective way to act, and makes your work more human, more alive, more exciting, more amused and entertained – not on a light level – but on the utmost level which acting is capable of.
The Method allows you to:
- Create real, in-depth, believable characters.
- Eradicate stage fright and nerves using a relaxation process for mind and body.
- Create emotion on-demand.
- Stimulate your belief in where the action takes place.
- Create the illusion of a close relationship with an actor you’ve just met.
- Create exciting and organic acting using unique Method improvisation techniques.
- Say your lines as if it were the first and last time you were ever saying them.
- Create a unique and distinct character physicality.
- Use the given circumstances as a force within the scene.
- Fulfil the writer’s and director’s vision with ease.
As a result of adopting the technique, over 100 Method Actors have won Oscars. This year, the award for Best Actor went to Daniel Day-Lewis the first male performer to win three academy awards for lead actor roles.
Famous Actors Who Tap Into The Power of The Method And Refuse To Follow The Herd!
- Daniel Day-Lewis
- Robert De Niro
- Al Pacino
- Meryl Streep
- Alec Baldwin
- James Dean
- Christoph Waltz
- Matt Dillon
- Sally Field
- Charlize Theron
- Denzel Washington
- Edward Norton
- Bridget Fonda
- Jane Fonda
- Dustin Hoffman
- Dennis Hopper
- Shelly Winters
- Marlon Brando
- Jack Nicholson
- Robert Duvall
- Uma Thurman
- Scarlett Johansson
- Philip Seymour Hoffman
- Angelina Jolie
- Harvey Keitel
- Ray Liotta
- Nicole Kidman
- Tim Roth
- Forest Whitaker
- Sienna Miller
- Marilyn Monroe
- Paul Newman
- Rebecca De Mornay
- Geraldine Page
- Mickey Rourke
- Sean Penn
- Adam Sandler
- Eli Wallach
- Christopher Walken
- Chandra Wilson (Grey’s Anatomy)
- Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs)
- Claire Danes (Romeo & Juliet)
- Ann Bancroft (The Graduate)
- Frank Medrano (Entourage)
- James Spader (Boston Legal)
- Jennifer Jason Leigh (Single White Female)
- Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond)
- Daniela Ruah (N.C.I.S. Los Angeles)
- Sissy Spacek (North Country)
- Jowharah Jones (Ugly Betty)
- Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos)
- Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order)
Brian Timoney is the author of the book The Ultimate Guide to Method Acting. Want to read about how method acting has helped the acting careers of some of our past students? Here are some recent reviews and case studies.