Whether you’re just beginning or are an experienced actor, it all starts with the script. If bringing the words to life is what makes us actors, learning to convey subtext, nuance and genuine emotion is can make us great actors.
The Script is an 11 week scene study class offered at EMASLA that emphasizes the role of text in an actor’s performance. Techniques are offered that help the actor make character choices, play objectives, and relate emotionally to world created by the scene. Furthermore, actors are taught to understand the voice of the writer in different genres and styles, allowing them to better connect with the intentions and vision of the writer as they express their own emotions through the words of others.
Both beginning and experienced actors who wish to improve their text analysis and script reading are encouraged to apply.
All EMASLA class sizes are limited in size to ensure one-on-one interaction with instructors. Visit our registration page to reserve your place one of our two time slots for The Script.
The Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio (EMAS) is happy to announce open enrollment for our Winter Shakespeare acting class, Shakespeare I: Playing the Bard.
Many of today’s most admired and celebrated actors have their roots in playing Shakespeare, proving that The Bard is more relevant than ever to today’s entertainment industry.
This 8 week class aims to introduce the core elements of playing Shakespeare to LA actors. In class, students will:
- Investigate how Shakespeare directs actors through the structure and rhythm of his texts
- Examine the differences between verse and prose and discover when Shakespeare chooses to write in each form
- Explore iambic pentameter and phrasing and learn a process for analyzing Shakespeare’s texts
- Experience how a slight change in emphasis can alter the emotions and meaning of a scene
- Learn to link language with your physical and vocal instrument to incorporate your full body into your acting
Classes held at EMAS on Sundays at 7:00 PM. January 28th through March 18th, 2018.
Now based in LA, Diana Jellinek is an actress and an acting coach with extensive experience on stage and screen, including The Old Globe Theatre, London’s Royal National Theatre Studio, and the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC. Learn more at:
Diana Jellinek’s Website
Diana Jelinek’s IMDB Page
Guest Post by EMAS Community Member, Joanna Enright
2017 is coming to a rousing conclusion as far as great film performances go. The year got off to a slow start, but it is building up great momentum as the big films of the year come through in time for the end of the year holiday season. This year, the competition for awards will be fierce, especially in the Best Actor category, as we’re seeing some major (and new) stars taking on highly challenging roles and bringing them in with everything they’ve got.
I’ve singled out a few of my favorite performances from 2017 (so far) to highlight here. The actors in these roles are all, in varied ways, with different approaches and styles, working at the top of their game, with passion for what they do and calling on their highest intelligence and craftsmanship. All of this is why each of these actors can offer a lot to those who love and are inspired by the art of acting.
Dustin Hoffman, The Meyerowitz Stories
Academy Award-winner Dustin Hoffman (Tootsie, The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy) is back in top form in Noah Baumbach’s ensemble comedy about a family that comes back together after years of dysfunction to celebrate their artist father’s career retrospective. Working with a script (by Baumbach) that is both hilarious, trenchant and at times painfully heartbreaking, Hoffman offers a singular character performance as the ego-driven yet utterly emotionally unaware patriarch of the Meyerowtiz clan. The tiny details in Hoffman’s performance, as he glides through fractured interchanges with his sons, wives, and (secretly envied) artist friends are hilarious. Hoffman wonderfully captures the quiet egomania of a New York artist who keeps propping himself up in the face of his failure as an artist and a father, and yet keeps on going. This highly watchable film also features uniformly great performances by the ensemble cast, including Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler as Hoffman’s estranged sons, who are unable to stop competing for their dad’s attention, even in middle-age.
Gary Oldman, The Darkest Hour
Gary Oldman (Sid and Nancy, Immortal Beloved, The Dark Knight) delivers a towering performance as Prime Minister Winston Churchill in director Joe Wright’s The Darkest Hour. The film is the riveting story of Churchill’s leadership in the stark early years of the Second World War, as France was being overtaken by German forces and England was beginning to realize the enormity of the threat they were facing. Oldman’s character work in this film is indelible, as he captures Churchill’s persona as a brilliant yet eccentric leader who was tasked with leading the English public (and parliament) towards support for entering into war with Germany.
Oldman, wearing heavy prosthetic makeup and extra weight, comes through with incredible emotional force as Churchill, from the high moments of his great speeches to the English people, and also in the small moments when he faces his fears over England’s possible fate. This stirring performance by one of the best actors of our time is a must-see for any actor working today.
Mark Rylance, Dunkirk
Mark Rylance is one of the most arresting and skilled actors working today, and this Academy Award Winner (Best Supporting Actor-Bridge of Spies) brings an emotional center to the searing story of Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan’s rendition of this key battle during the early days of World War II (in events also covered in “The Darkest Hour”) is a fast-paced epic that offers few breaks from the unrelenting tension of the story. As the film cuts between scenes of the war’s horrors on land, sea, and in the air, Rylance brings a feeling of emotional stability to the story. As an Englishman who sails a small yacht to the village of Dunkirk to help with the rescue of British troops, Rylance, with minimal dialogue, offers an emotional gravity and sensitivity in his scenes that is brilliant and heartbreaking. This is another must-see performance in a year of great ones.
Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Timothee Chalamet delivers a breakout performance in the sensitive and ultimately heartbreaking love story, Call Me By Your Name. As the teenage Eliot, a student and musician in 1981 Italy, Chalamet captures the painful longing of first love, as he and the graduate student living with his family (Armie Hammer) fall into a forbidden love affair they know must ultimately come to an end. Hammer and Chalet are gorgeous together, and their tasteful love scenes together are beautifully rendered.
There’s no doubt this year will be remembered for a host of great films marked by amazing writing and cinematography, but more than anything, it’s the performances by some of the best actors working today in these films that will leave a lasting impression on me.
– Joanna Enright
Pilot season is coming up quickly!
Whether this is your first or fifteenth season, it is important that you be at your best, ready when your opportunity arises!
Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio is now enrolling for it’s Winter 2017-2018 On-Camera Technique workshop. In addition to our focus on cold-reading and on-camera skills, this class aims to give students a clear understanding of the casting process with the goal of empowering them with the confidence to truly “own” the room with their performances.
In this installment of the Meisner Monday’s video series, Elizabeth prepares her students to find the emotional states that actors are required to bring to scenes, often from minute one.
EMAS is happy to announce open enrollment for this Fall’s “Performing the Song” Musical Theatre class.
Beginning October 1st and running for 8 weeks, Performing the Song is taught by Tony Award-Winner, Chris Bensinger. Designed to expand the Hollywood Actor’s skillset to allow them to navigate the growing number of opportunities for song in TV, film and, of course, Musical Theatre.
The course will focus on teaching actors to realize songs they were intended by the writers – as a vehicle for expression and storytelling. A secondary focus will be on actually improving students’ vocal technique.
The trend towards musical elements in Hollywood isn’t going to be going away anytime soon. Take advantage of this opportunity to increase your skillset and work with a true professional.
A Tony Award winning theater producer, Chris Bensinger joined the EMAS faculty in 2016 to help actors hone the skills that allow them to shine in Hollywood’s growing number of Musical and “Musical TV” productions.
The Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio is now scheduling interviews for our 2017 First Year Meisner Class. Beginning in September, the 1st Year Meisner Technique is a rigorous 9 month program for serious acting students who’re willing to make the commitment to do what it takes to become a better, more truthful and more spontaneous actor.
The Meisner Technique
Respected as one of the most effective acting techniques, the Meisner Technique gives actors fundamental skills that translate into deep, truthful acting in any situation. Following the syllabus designed by Sandy Meisner, EMAS’ Meisner Technique classes give students a clearly defined path to developing these essential skills.
The Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio is now registering acting students for its Fall Acting Foundations class.
Beginning September 13 and running through December 13, Acting Foundations touches on the fundamentals of the actor’s craft, including character development, breaking down a script, imagination work, and the actor’s instrument (voice and body).
Acting Foundations is a mixed level class that’s designed to benefit new acting students looking for a comprehensive introduction or an experienced actor looking to hone their core skills.
Registration for Acting Foundations is open to all acting students with a desire to train professionally, no interview is required.
11423 Moorpark St
Los Angeles, CA 91604 United States
Phone number: (323) 528-6280
Most people don’t think of “Netflix and chill” as a way to do their homework. However, most people aren’t actors who are devoted to their craft. You can binge-watch hundreds of series on Netflix. Some of the highlights are the original Netflix series, many of which feature actors showing off their chops in a unique way. Here’s what (and who) to watch if you’re an aspiring actor.
As Ruth Wilder, Alison Brie goes beyond her usual girl-next-door role in this campy comedy-drama. Although she does play a naïve, doe-eyed actress, she delivers moments of darkness, loneliness and desperation. Brie really shines during a fantasy scene in which she is all-out fighting with her arch-nemesis Debbie, who is played by Betty Gilpin. The tiny actress becomes larger-than life in the wrestling ring.
In GLOW, Brie also shatters the image of the polished, uptight women that she typically portrays. In GLOW, Brie allows her rough edges to seep through her perfect smile. Her performance is so authentic that you can glimpse her inner fearlessness.
In this psychosexual drama, Naomi Watts plays Jean Holloway, a therapist who develops her own fascinations with the objects of her patients’ obsessions. A Meisner-trained actress, Watts authentically draws viewers into every moment on screen.
The camera often focuses on close-ups of Watts’ face, which reveals the expressions of a suburban housewife as easily as those of a fanatical lover and skillful liar. She seamlessly contrasts the brightest and darkest sides of her character in much the same way as she did in her breakout film, Mulholland Drive.
Orange Is The New Black
We couldn’t write an article about Netflix shows to study without mentioning OITNB. Like GLOW, the show’s characters are well-defined and rife with unexpected as well as predictable qualities. Playing these types of characters requires an ability to tap into a well of emotions.
The character who is confident on the outside often reveals her most vulnerable insecurities at the most inopportune moments. The strangest characters have the most relatable backstories. The most conventional characters have surprisingly eccentric qualities.
It takes skilled actors to effectively portray these personas. Their motivations must come off as realistic for the audience to bond with them. No matter how outlandish the storylines are, they resonate with the viewers because the actors access genuine emotions to express them.
Although Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell, is an extraordinary lead for this mockumentary-style comedy, the other actors support the comedy in genius fashion. Watch this series for a look into how to create a solid character.
This television show is about more than great writing. Each actor has developed specific mannerisms and quirks that represent his or her identity. While some of these traits are over the top, others are starkly subdued. Observe the way each actor develops his or her character alone, in contrast to and in conjunction with the other characters.
If you want to be amazed by the proficiency of an ensemble of child actors, watch Stranger Things. Although the Netflix-original series deals with the more bizarre side of the supernatural, the superb acting makes the oddities seem relevant.
Even if Winona Ryder has irritated you in the past with her exaggerated portrayal of drama and despair, you’ll buy her interpretation of a worried mother agonizing over the disappearance of her son. Her agitation contrasts well with the more even-keeled nature of the children.
It’s interesting to watch these young actors portray children who are passionate about finding their friend but don’t let the mystery derail their motivations. Their performances are entrancing.
Is good acting enough to keep a show going? That’s the question posed by many Bloodline reviewers. The Netflix-original series features an ensemble of actors who brought depth to roles that might otherwise have been shallow.
Kyle Chandler is perhaps most well-known for playing the role of Coach in Friday Night Lights. He had to work hard to disassociate himself with that character to play the role of the “good” brother with a villainous undertone in Bloodline. He performs his role fluidly, as do his costars.
Sam Shepard plays the patriarch of the family. Shepard studied under Wynn Handman, a protégé of Sanford Meisner. Ben Mendelsohn’s performance also stands out. He has been nominated for several awards for his portrayal of Danny, and in 2016 he won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
Sometimes, an actor’s performance can go above and beyond the writing, storyline or plot of a television show. These series, which are available to stream on Netflix, are ideal examples of this. When you watch them, you’ll get pulled into the emotion, drama, comedy and action because of the actors’ brilliant execution of the script.
Guest Post by Laura Blackburn
People sometimes laugh at me when I tell them that I have learned more about acting from a cult television show than an Academy Award winning motion picture. However, I have found that studying the techniques of actors who must convey a sense of realism in spite of fantastic subject matter has made me a better actor in every sense. This is why I use the television series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as my inspiration when taking on a new role.
Anyone who has watched or even heard of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” knows that the meat of the series is the writing and directing from Joss Whedon and his team. Likewise, any screenwriter knows that excellent acting is required from all involved to make a script come alive. A good actor can make a superbly written script enjoyable. A great actor can create a series that continues to awe and inspire decades after its inception.
Supporting characters are often mean to give the lead a sense of purpose. They also often offer a chance for exposition, serving as the audience’s stand-in. These characters ask the important questions, helping to further the plot of a story. Excellent actors take these roles and turn them into something more than a plot device. This was the case for much of the supporting cast on “Buffy.”
One of the most difficult supporting roles on the series was that of Xander Harris, portrayed by the underrated Nicholas Brendon. In a series that was filled with witches, werewolves, demons and, of course, vampires, Brendon was the everyman who had to hold his own in an other-worldly atmosphere. The actor was given lines that were largely meant to serve as comic relief. However, his ability to add depth and meaning to simple one-liners made his character an integral part of the show. Watching Brendon, I have learned not to take any lines for granted.
Some actors were so adept at their roles on “Buffy” that their bit parts were expanded into multiple episodes, some even becoming mainstays on the series. Seth Green, who portrayed the werewolf Oz, was meant to depart in the same season that he appeared. Treating his character with unexpected sensitivity, he made the viewing audience fall in love with both the man and the monster. As an actor, Green could convey more in an eyebrow raise than some other, lesser actors might be able to do with an entire page of dialog. Green has taught me to try new angles with my characters; to explore the unknown.
Julie Benz’s character, Darla, was originally meant to be killed during the second the episode in the series. Instead, her presence was thought to add a needed layer to the romance between Buffy and her vampire boyfriend, Angel. Benz’s approach to her portrayal as a vampire was a combination of old-school horror and girl next door. She was at times soft spoken and sensual, and at other times terrifying. Benz would go on to appear in many more episodes of “Buffy” while also playing a crucial role in the spin-off series “Angel.” What she has taught me is to remember that every role can and should be multidimensional.
For the uninitiated, “Buffy” ran for seven seasons. Each season had an over-arching story that appeared throughout the series, culminating with an ultimate face-off with the Big Bad. Buffy and her gang fought many other monsters along the way. Some of the most memorable of these lesser monsters include The Gentleman, a gang of mute, heart-stealing demons who communicated through gestures rather than language; Gnarl, a parasitic flesh-eater with a sing-songy style of speech; and the Turok-Han, the ultimate vampire. Interestingly, all of these monsters were played by the same actor: Camden Toy.
Toy’s movements can be considered their own form of art. He is able to convey any type of emotion he wishes with or without a script. His episodes can be studied by anyone who wishes to be more physical with a performance. Acting is much more than the spoken word. Toy encompasses this in each of his roles.
It can be extremely difficult to visibly portray emotion when covered in prosthetics, which are required for many of the monsters on the show. The Master, played by Mark Metcalf, was a creepy vampire who was adored and feared by other under worldly creatures. With a face completely disguised throughout his run on “Buffy,” Metcalf used his gestures and voice alone to give viewers an almost sensual fright. Considering the versatility needed for these roles, the Big Bads of “Buffy” have taught me to never rely on one facet of my craft. Rather, I should hone all aspects of my acting ability to create a truly meaningful character.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Playing a superhero is never a simple task, but it was one that was made for Sarah Michelle Gellar. She chose to play Buffy Summers as a typical girl who just happened to also have super powers. Anyone could relate to Buffy’s daily struggles. She had boy problems. She worried about her hair and clothes. She had difficulty relating to her mother and studying for her SATs. Because Gellar was so able to encompass these everyday traits of her character, she was able to show the viewer a superhero that could almost be real. She was as adept at displaying physical power when fighting a monster twice her size as she was at showing extreme grief when handling the death of her mother. Gellar could play funny, frightened, determined and even bored, all in the same scene. She has taught me to never give up.