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The Meisner Technique

The Meisner Technique has helped turn many actors into household names.  It was developed in the 1930s by Sanford Meisner, who would continue to refine it for the next fifty years.  Developed at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, it is considered one of the most systematic and holistic acting techniques in the western world. It has made a strong influence not only on American acting and culture, but on European acting as well.

A traditional Meisner Training Program is taught over a two-year period.  In contrast to Emotional Recall, where actors recall emotions from memories of actual experiences, the Meisner Technique believes that the imaginary world is a stronger and healthier way to draw out an actor’s emotions.  It defines acting as “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances”, requiring actors to respond from their instincts rather than their intellect.  It is a step-by-step, improvisational process that demands the actors be truthful in every moment. The first year focuses on the actors finding how they, themselves would truthfully respond in a whole slew of imaginary circumstances, whether they be joyous, maddening or devastating. The second year continues this work in the realm of creating characters quite different from the actor with the same sense of truth. When the Meisner technique is taught, it begins with simple repetition exercises using one or two sentences, then builds on this to eventually work with complex improvisations and eventually scripts.

The Meisner technique is used by countless actors on stage and in film, including Sam Rockwell, James Gandolfini,  David Duchovny, Allison Janney, Kathy Bates, Robert Duvall, James Franco, Jeff Bridges, Jeff Goldblum, Naomi Watts, Stephen Colbert, , and many others.

Beginning Acting Class Now Registering


The Basic Technique Series at the  

Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio



It’s why most of us decided to pursue acting – To “be” someone else. Walk in their shoes, speak in their voice, feel their pain, live their joy! – to become THE CHARACTER.


THE CHARACTER class at The Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio (EMAS) gives acting students a foundation in creating truthful, dynamic characters for film, television or stage. It teaches techniques that find the character’s voice, physicality and psychology. Through exercises, improvisations, monologue and scene work, students acquire a comprehensive set of “acting tools” to draw upon when approaching a role. At the end of the12 weeks, students will know how to bring a character to life and apply their techniques in scene work.

If you have always wanted to explore acting – this class will give you techniques using both research and imagination to create dynamic, truthful and emotionally alive characters. You will learn how to place these characters into living relationships and then take the words off of the page and bring them to life in a scene! What a great way to start the new year!

What: The Character – Technique class for Beginning Actors
Where: EMAS: 7600 Melrose Avenue, 2nd Floor, Los Angeles 90046
When: Thursdays at 7pm – starting January 9th, 2014
Tuition: $500 for 11-week session
Contact: 323-528-6280 or
Register: For on line registration click here

Click here for more information on EMAS

Summary About Sanford Meisner

Sanford Meisner

Sanford Meisner is a renowned acting coach that was born in 1905. He is credited with establishing the Meisner acting technique, which remains popular today.

Here are some of Sanford Meisner’s most known milestones in history:

Life and Death
He was born in New York in 1905, to Hungarian parents, and died in 1997.

Personal Information

  • His emotional acuteness stemmed from the tragic death of his brother in early childhood. He credited this event to his penchant for acting – where grief is channeled into an imaginary realm.
  • The acting coach was married between 1948 and 1950 to Peggy Meredith.


  • A young Meisner pursued acting after graduation from high school.
  • Sanford Meisner is an alumni of the Damrosch Institute of Music, which is now labeled as the Juilliard School. There, he took piano lessons.
  • Sanford Meisner also attended the Theatre Guild of Acting.

Career and Entrepreneurship

  • Lee Strasberg was one of the most influential teachers in the actor’s life. He, Sanford, and several others were carefully selected to form the Group Theatre.
  • The actor began teaching at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York in 1935. In 1947, his tutelage was sought at the Actor’s Studio – he accepted.
  • Meisner formed the Meisner/Carville School of Acting in the early eighties.
  • He directed Twentieth Century-Fox Talent Program between 1959 and 1961.

The Birth of the Meisner Technique
The Meisner technique is the brainchild of the actor himself, and it pays special focus to the following:

  • Affective memory – which recounts the emotive sides of one’s past to help get into character more easily. This was adapted from Stanislavski’s method of acting.
  • While many actors are trained with varied methods of acting, The Meisner Technique specifically emphasizes using the actor’s imagination, coupled with emotions, in order to make the storyline more believable.

Famous Names Trained by Meisner
The following actors have all been winners of the Academy Award – all trained by Sanford Meisner:
Joan Fontaine
Grace Kelly
Edmond O’Brien
Diane Keaton
Jon Voight
Sydney Pollack
Many More
Meisner’s Legacy

Today, the Meisner technique lives on in many top acting schools across the nation. Sanford Meisner, who was known under the alias “Sandy” to many, is respected as one of the leading acting coaches in American acting history.

* image found from wikipedia (



Wednesday, August 21st 7pm

From agent meetings to thank you cards, we cover the important questions facing actors as they make their way in Hollywood. Many actors feel ready to get their foot in the door, but HOW?

Money, unions, agents, managers, casting directors, finding your type and navigating it all with authenticity and integrity. In this workshop we tackle those questions and more. Actor training is key to the development of any artist. However,…once you learn how to act you need to know how to get people to hire you to ACT!

When: Wednesday August 21st, 2013
Time: 7pm
Cost: $45
Where: 7600 Melrose Ave, LA 90046 – 2nd Floor

Register on line HERE

The Physical Voice with Paul Boehmer

The Physical Voice
Paul Boehmer
July 2 – August 6, 2013

Combining the ideas of Fitzmaurice vocal work and Physical Dynamics, this workshop is geared to help in important areas of an actor’s development.

What it does:

Physicality: we develop awareness of patterns of vocal effort or blocks through a series of gentle and/or rigorous exercises.

Breath: we explore the central role that breathing plays in both vocal production and the inspired imagination.

Vocal Quality: we cultivate the ability to accurately communicate our thoughts and feelings while meeting the demands of text.

Practical Results: we reduce strain in the voice, increase vocal range and expressivity, make speech easy and clear, allowing creativity to flow.

“An unbelievably powerful experience, I opened up vocally, emotionally and physically – I recommend this work to every actor who desires to do powerful, truthful work!”
– Darby McCullough – EMAS student

When: Tuesdays 7:30 – 9:30pm

Where: EMAS

7600 Melrose Avenue, LA 90046

Cost: $295 for 6 classes

Contact: 323-528-6280

This class is a magnificent way to make sure that your instrument is able to do all it is required to do when working on emotionally charged scenes. It helps the actor to work through physical and emotional blocks while also helping them understand the way breath and language can help tell the story, develop a character and engage the audience.
or for more information Call 323-528-6280