American approaches to Stanislavsky’s System of actor training and rehearsal techniques are varied and often contradictory. Actors have cordoned themselves in opposing schools, self-identifying with Meisner, Strasberg, Adler, et al., developing what amounts to theoretical “lines of business.” The focus of contention is often how each approach delimits the relationship between the internal condition of the actor/character and its external manifestation. No approach denies the need to express action visually. Some teachers want the expression to be spontaneous; others attempt to fill preplanned gestures. However physicality is expressed, encoded in the vocabulary of even the most ardently psychological approaches is the body as metaphor: Character and narrative are defined through a spine that is manifest through action. The spine is the superstructure of meaning.
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