“Shatnerian” Acting Method Exposed
Strasberg, Adler, Meisner … take five. It’s the “Shatnerian” method of acting that’s taking the spotlight today.
An article in today’s Los Angeles Times titled “Shatner’s most memorable enterprise” recounts the often rocky career of one William Shatner, who “will forever be linked with a certain ‘five-year mission.'” While the article does not elucidate on much we haven’t heard before, it did contain some illuminating tidbits on what makes the “Captain Kirk” actor such a singular performer.
In 1953 Shatner understudied Christopher Plummer (who would later serve as a personal nemesis to Kirk in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”) in a Stratford Festival production of Shakespeare’s “Henry V.” When Plummer was suddenly hospitalized, Shatner took the stage, and as one observer reported:
“His performance, full of abrupt stops and inappropriate pauses when he could not remember the dialogue, was acclaimed by critics as remarkably intuitive and full of passion. Always quick to respond to positive feedback from his audience, Shatner began to incorporate these techniques into subsequent performances.”
“Perhaps it was this discovery that shaped his playing of Kirk,” the article by Malcolm Johnson of the Hartford Courant continues. “His vocal delivery — brusque, sometimes blustering, clipped and sometimes choppy, full of dramatic pauses — became known as ‘Shatnerian.'”
Drama students, your homework assignment is “Turnabout Intruder.”