How to Utilize the Ivana Chubbuck Acting Technique Like Charlize Theron + Others

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Ivana Chubbuck has created one of the many great acting techniques that actors can use to enhance their performances. This 12-step technique, which is explored in Chubbuck’s book “The Power of the Actor: The Chubbuck Technique,” has been used by stars such as Halle Berry, Brad Pitt, and Charlize Theron, just to name a few. Earlier this year, Backstage hosted a quarantined Zoom session with acting coach Natalie Anson-Wright (which you can watch below) as part of its video programming, The Slate. Anson-Wright went through the pivotal steps in the Chubbuck technique, giving actors advice on how to fully maximize her teachings to their benefit.

Anson-Wright believes that what separates this technique from others is the psychological background in each step that can be extracted for use in acting and in life. “What the technique does is break down things very psychologically,” she explained. “It's all based on behavior science, and everything that it talks about is true to life which is why it's so incredibly important and so incredibly amazing for acting.”

This approach to acting makes it simpler for actors to connect with their character on a human level. One example of this in the Chubbuck Technique is the step of discovering what the character’s overall objective is. “Everything we do in life builds towards something that we want and towards a goal that we have,” said Anson-Wright. “That's the overall objective and those overall objectives are always based on the really basic needs.”

She continued, saying that these basic needs are usually framed around the famous psychology theory, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. These needs elevate from psychological needs, to safety, to love, to power, and then finally, self actualization and purpose. Being able to attach these needs to your character is what truly brings out a great performance. “It's not about trying to elicit false emotions,” said Anson-Wright. “It's about those emotions coming to us naturally because we cannot achieve what we want to achieve.”

Another step in this technique that Anson-Wright evaluates is substituting your acting partner for someone in real life to get the more real state of emotion that the scene calls for. “As a result [you] get a more grounded, real, and really deep and difficult version of this thing,” she said.

Anson-Wright wraps up saying that the last step of letting go is simultaneously the most helpful and difficult step to achieve. “In life we have objectives and we have these people and relationships that we have history with, but we don't hold on to those objectives actively in conversations,” she said. “We go through the steps, write all those things down, make sure that we have access to every single tool we've done, but then let it go and trust that the work has done its job.”

Watch the full video below, and check out more of Backstage’s Slate programming right here.

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