The thirteenth video in a series of 3 minute segments of a Meisner class. The student tried to perform the trickiest emotion:Happy. How to bring the happy emotion to life through the somehow pedestrian actions is challenging.Watch Elizabeth giving advice right now.
There are actually 2 phases of audition preparation. The first is what you do BEFORE you get to the audition and the 2nd is what you do in the waiting room once you are AT the audition.
When Emmy winning Casting director April Webster is asked what tips she has for actors auditioning for her, her first response is “Have your preparation done.” What does that mean? If you don’t know… then you might not be ready to be out there auditioning with the big boys. Get into a class and develop a technique and a process. But if you need a reminder – a process or ritual to follow for each audition – here’s a little checklist:
When you get the script:
- Read the audition sides multiple times.
- Research the show (read the entire script (if film or theater) if possible, watch episodes of the show (if for TV) to understand the tone and genre.
- Make any character choices that are necessary – however, most of the time the character will be pretty close to who you are – that’s why they are bringing you in. .. make sure you honor any physical, vocal or psychological differences to your own natural state. Practice with those from the beginning! (ie: if the character is drunk – rehearse her drunk from the get-go)
- All the basics – where are you, what’s your relationship, where are you emotionally at the top of the scene etc. This is really your opportunity to do a short performance for the Casting Director – I found that thinking of it as a performance helped with nerves.
- Memorize as best you can, and get comfortable auditioning with the script in hand.
- Decide what you are going to wear – make sure it fits, it’s ironed, that you can move in it etc. Do NOT dress as the character but make sure you dress appropriately for the character. For example, do not audition for a prisoner in a tie.
- Find out how to get to the audition (don’t rely only on your GPS the day of – they aren’t always correct), where to park etc…
- Pack easy snacks and plenty of water. Auditions infamously run late – and you want to sustain your energy.
- Pack your script and extra headshots and resumes.
- Schedule something to do right after the audition – so you can move on and not ruminate on what you could have done differently.
At the Audition
- Before you leave your home, make sure you have warmed up physically and vocally.
- DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR PHONE. Once you are in the waiting room – don’t look at it – turn it completely off. Screen time takes you away from being present. There are studies that show that the auditory receptors in the brain start to disengage when all the information is being brought in through the eyes and that it can take up to 30 minutes for your listening abilities to return to normal.
- Don’t change your crafting in the waiting room. This isn’t the time to second guess what you have worked on – it’s the time to commit fully to your choices.
- Don’t “chit chat” with the other actors. Be friendly but stay away from small talk. It may be disruptive to other actors and might hurt your focus.
- Stay loose and be present. Mindfulness is really helpful at these times!
- While waiting, use your imagination to build the world and environment of the scene. Get emotionally available to the triggers of the scene. This is more important than running the lines in your head another 10 times. The CD wants to know that you can act – not that you can memorize.
- If the audition is for something small– treat it as such, stay light, and relaxed – no CD wants to see someone brooding over an audition for a one liner. Just be yourself.
- Smile and show ‘em what you got!
Elizabeth Mestnik is an award winning, actress, director and teacher. Elizabeth founded EMAS to bring her New York style of professional actor training to the west coast. -She received her MFA in Acting from Rutgers University under the tutelage of William Esper, Sandy Meisner’s associate at the Neighborhood Playhouse for over 17 years, and New York’s leading Meisner teacher.
The Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio (EMAS) has now opened registration for our 2018 Summer Meisner Intensive Class.
Located at our Hollywood studio, the Summer Intensive offers 3 classes per week over a 5 week period to give students an immersive introduction to the philosophies and structure of Meisner-based training.
At the heart of the Meisner Technique is a tangible, step-by-step approach to acting training with each exercise building on the last. Not only does this give actors a dependable process to draw on but, ultimately, actors are taught to work truthfully, employing their genuine impulses and talent rather than working intellectually.
Our Summer Intensive course guides students through the beginning steps of the Meisner Technique in just over a month. Classes meet three days a week for three hours at a time. Sessions are scheduled both in the morning and in the evening to avoid scheduling conflicts. We’re invested in your development as an actor and, as such, attendance is mandatory.
Summer Meisner Intensive Info:
June 25 – July 31, 2018
5 weeks/3 classes a week
Session A: Mon, Wed, Sat at 10:00AM
Session B: Tues & Thurs at 7:00PM, Sat at 2:00PM
Interviews for the Summer Intensive are ongoing. There is no deadline, however, once classes are full we will continue to hold interviews for a wait list. The earlier you interview, the more likely there will be availability for a spot in a class.
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.