How to Willy Wonka Your Way to an Acting Technique

    Follow me and you will see a world of pure imagination full of creative ways to develop your acting technique into the stuff of wonders.

    For me, my journey of developing my own unique acting technique was similar to the ones of the children in Gene Wilder’s, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

    While I was learning about all the different techniques, Meisner, Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, to name a few, I was a bit overwhelmed by which ones to use and which ones to avoid. I didn’t have a clear picture of what to do.

    Then I thought about the analogy of a kid in a candy shop. Similar to the children in the movie, I was able to choose different acting techniques like candy. And in doing so, created my own ‘collection of sweets’ comprising a pile of style.

    Try all the candy you want!

    Contrary to what our parents would tell us about eating candy, in this metaphor of creating your own technique, the best thing you can do is try all the candy. From the zany sours of Meisner, to the chocolate of Stanislavski, there’s so much to choose from.

    For me, it’s an easy temptation to try to find one proven method and just stick to it. I want to be able to have a technique which will get me through various acting struggles I know I will encounter.

    But the thing is, one technique alone probably won’t be enough. It might take certain tips from other people and experiences to help develop your style.

    It takes time

    Imagine being given the challenge to try every type of candy in the world. How long do you think it would take you? Chances are, a fairly long time.

    Same goes for developing your acting technique.

    When approaching your own unique style, the best thing to have is patience. It takes people years, sometimes even decades, to get comfortable with a certain style of acting.

    Give yourself time to try all sorts of different ones to see which of them you like.

    Create your own candy

    Just like Wonka had his own recipes and factory, make your own factory of techniques. When you’re under pressure to learn something, you’re able to come up with your own strategies.

    For example, during the first few short films I was in I had to scramble to study the scripts. Under pressure I was able to find out how I study: through many scribbled notes.

    I wasn’t taught this, but I used it all the same and it worked. Thing is, you don’t have to use the techniques people suggest. You have the creative freedom to come up with your own unique system.

    What I have found, through wrestling with what it means to act, is there’s no one correct way, it all depends on what works best for you. You have the ability to try every approach and technique, you’re not limited to one specific one.

    You may find the best thing you can do in your acting is adopt a few things from each technique and disregard other things. In this way, there’s no pressure to find a technique as quickly as possible, because again, it will take time.

    There are no limits here; take as much as you want. And fortunately, unlike candy, you won’t get a toothache by taking too much. So let Wonka’s story be inspiration to your own acting journey, and step into a world of pure imagination.

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    • Keaton is an actor and writer who works with the Initiative Production Company in Brisbane, Australia. Native to Alaska, he enjoys staring at the stars while contemplating the meaning of life.

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