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Cameron University classic film lecture to examine method acting and mental health

In conjunction with Cameron University‘s current academic festival, “Care and Health: A Generational Approach,” the CU Department of Communication, English and Foreign Languages will present “The Method and the Madness: Mental Health in America’s Most Significant Acting Style.” The lecture will be presented by author and educator Dr. Justin Rawlins and is slated for Thursday, November 16. Starting at 7 p.m. in the McCasland Ballroom of the McMahon Centennial Complex, the presentation is open to the public at no charge.

Rawlins will discuss the popular reputation of method acting, which has, almost since its emergence in the early 1950s, hinged both on a misunderstanding of what “the Method” entails and what its relationship to mental health is.

A technique of acting which encourages sincere and expressive performances through identifying with, understanding and experiencing a character's inner motivation and emotions, method acting is based on the system developed by Russian actor and director Konstantin Stanislavsky. Three teachers are associated with formulating The Method, each emphasizing different aspects of the approach: Lee Strasberg (the psychological aspects), Stella Adler (the sociological aspects), and Sanford Meisner (the behavioral aspects). The approach was first developed when they worked together at the Group Theatre in New York and later at the Actors Studio.

According to Rawlins, “The result has been a long-encrusted misperception of method actors such as Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep and others as overly neurotic, chemically unbalanced and mentally ill to an extent that underwrites praise for some performers, the shaming of others, and excuses for certain performer conduct that are much more about bad behavior than mental health.”

Rawlins, an associate professor of media studies and film studies in the Henry Kendall College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tulsa, is the author of a series of articles and book chapters about film. His book “Imagining the Method: Reception, Identity, and American Screen Performance,” will be published by the University of Texas Press later this year.

The lecture is funded by the Holmes, Morris, and Newell Endowed Lectureship for Classic Film.


PR# 23-156

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