Classical Acting Technique Explained

Classical acting technique is a style of acting that emphasizes the importance of language, rhetoric, and the performance of text. The technique has its roots in ancient Greek and Roman theater and has been developed and refined over the centuries. In this article, we will explore the history and technique of classical acting, as well as some notable practitioners and influences.

Classical acting has also influenced other acting techniques, including the Stanislavski System and the Meisner Technique.

Classical acting has its roots in ancient Greek and Roman theater, where actors were trained in the art of declamation and oratory. These actors were expected to perform in large outdoor theaters without the aid of microphones or other technology, so they had to project their voices and gestures to reach the audience.

In the Renaissance, classical acting was revived as a way of recreating the style and sensibility of ancient Greek and Roman theater. Actors were trained in rhetoric and the art of speaking verse, and they were expected to perform in a highly stylized and formal manner.

In the 20th century, classical acting continued to evolve as actors sought to make the language and themes of classic plays more accessible and relevant to modern audiences.

Classical acting technique involves a deep understanding of the language, themes, and historical context of the play being performed. The technique involves the following steps:

  1. Text analysis: Actors analyze the text to determine the meaning and intention behind the words.
  2. Verse-speaking: Actors learn to speak in verse, using the rhythm and meter of the language to enhance the meaning and impact of the words.
  3. Gesture and movement: Actors use gesture and movement to create a physical expression of the text and to convey meaning and emotion.
  4. Character development: Actors create fully-realized characters by exploring their motivations, desires, and conflicts.

Classical acting has been used by many actors to create powerful and memorable performances. Some notable practitioners of the technique include Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, and Judi Dench.

Also see:

  1. “Classical Acting.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Mar. 2022,
  2. “What is Classical Acting?” American Conservatory Theater, 28 Mar. 2022,
  3. “Classical Acting Techniques: A Guide to Performing Shakespeare.” Backstage, 26 Apr. 2019,