What’s the Purpose of Acting Technique?

What’s the Purpose of Acting Technique?

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You are not empty. You have ideas, and thoughts, and feelings and intuitions and imaginings. You understand stuff. You have hunches. You have opinions.

Acting Technique is not to replace these things, it is to extend them. It is to take what you have naturally and lift or boost it.

Technique is not paint by numbers. You cannot just do it and hope for the best. You must provide the spark, the imagination, the common sense and finally the graft.

Acting Technique will help most actors, but it doesn’t replace ability or your own thoughts and ideas, it extends them. If you have no thoughts of your own, then technique cannot help much.

Technique is a car to take you to your destination. However, until you have learned to drive the car, it’s not much use. If you want to get to your destination, there are a number of routes, but if you want to go by car, you will need to learn to drive it. It won’t be easy and you’ll make a lot of mistakes in order to drive smoothly and confidently.

You cannot simply ‘technique’ the car to its location. You still need to be very present and use your common sense and awareness. The goal is not to just learn to drive the car, it is to be able to go places in that car. Learning to drive the car is important, but it’s not the real goal.

The purpose of acting technique is to liberate your best ideas and lead to your best performance. First it will be awkward, then it will be less awkward, then it will be something you do, finally something you don’t even think about.

Many actors are dismissive, uncomfortable, fearful, or suspicious of technique. I understand. It isn’t a magic wand. And you have to go through a period of feeling like you ‘don’t know’ again and this isn’t a nice feeling.

And in my experience, technique is something that helps concretely. It shapes performance, it adds depth, it helps connect actor to material, it makes acting pragmatic.

To You, The Best


Mark Westbrook is the Senior Acting Coach at Acting Coach Scotland and the leader of the full and part-time diplomas in stage and screen acting.


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