What a Method Actor Can Teach You about Writing

By Purnell T. Cropper | March 13, 2012

By Michael Schwartz ’14

Arcadia University students and faculty, as well as members of the local creative community, were treated to an insightful lecture by multi-disciplinarian Keith Strunk. A devoted method actor, Strunk connected with the audience through interactive exercises and made intriguing linkages between his two favorite crafts: acting and writing. Arcadia University’s Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference, hosted the event in Grey Towers Castle.

Strunk talked about creative intention and how actors and writers express themselves and engage audiences. “In terms of the craft itself, the actor takes the words and creates behavior. The writer takes the behavior and creates word, and that’s how the two really interconnect at the behavior side,” he said.

Joanne Leva, Executive Director of the Montgomery County Poet Laureate Program, came away with a new lesson to put into practice. “I think I’m going to pay closer attention to being in the moment,” she said. “I was very intrigued when Keith said that as an actor he feels everything, and I think that as a writer if you practice feeling things, then you really connect with the audience no matter what the feeling—anger, happiness or surprise.”

Joshua Isard, Director of Arcadia’s MFA in Creative Writing program, was surprised by how closely writers and actors mirror each other in some practices, notably by sharpening work through rehearsal and revision.

Larry Atkins, Adjunct Professor of Journalism at Arcadia and Publicity Director of the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference, was thrilled to have Strunk appear on campus. “There are so many people who have a story to tell or like to do any kind of writing, whether it’s non-fiction, fiction writing for magazines, poetry or short stories, and a lot of times they don’t know where to turn to or where to go or how to get published, and so programs like the MFA and programs like the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference can let people know about that.”

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Photography by Pedro Leal ’13