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Acting Techniques – The Meisner Technique

The Meisner technique is just one of the many acting methods that can be learned at an acting school. This acting method was named after its creator, Sanford Meisner, a professional actor and acting coach at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York.  It was incepted in the 1940s and is still popular today. It’s also inspired by the Stanislavski’s system – a Russian-born acting method.

The Meisner technique involves a series of repetition by the person performing the exercise. It helps an actor make a scene more believable, as they get into character. As an actor, the technique is essentially asking you: How does it really feel to be in this person’s shoe? (the character you’re playing), and how can you draw upon your own experiences to connect with this character at an emotional level?

Benefits of the Meisner Technique:

The most beneficial aspect of this lesson is that actors will be able to adapt to a scene or circumstance, by living truthfully in the moment. It also helps actors learn more about and master improvisation.

Examples of famous actors who’ve benefited from this technique include Sandra Bullock, Grace Kelly, Dianne Keaton, and plenty more.

An acting school – a good one – can help actors in various stage of their acting career, master the technique, to ultimately be a better candidate for a role.

Course length times will vary from school to school, but as students, it’s important to do your own research to find an acting coach that teaches the Meisner technique the way the originator did.

Why Study The Meisner Technique? (flyer)

The Meisner Technique demands that an actor make a commitment to their training, as this training, if you follow the syllabus developed by Sanford Meisner, takes place over 9-months. This is serious training for serious students. So why should you make this sacrifice of time, effort , and yes – money? Why not take a 4-week workshop and be done with it? What does the Meisner Technique do that is so special?

To put it simply –
TO GET IN ACTOR SHAPE!

I have always compared acting to sports, because in sports the work you put in directly affects the product you put out. You can be a weekend jock, or an Olympic athlete. So, to continue this metaphor, if acting is like, say… Gymnastics… then Meisner is like going to the gym to get strong and flexible. The more traditional acting skills (objectives, actions, character biography etc) are like learning the different elements, – (the cartwheel, the back flip, the somersault etc.) Most Acting Classes teach you the elements, but don’t know how to get you into shape.

Now I will be honest with you. I can do a somersault, and I can even do a cartwheel – but they are pretty pathetic because at the age of 42, I’m really not all that strong and flexible. But if I worked out every day to increase my upper body strength and the flexibility of my spine, those elements would look much better. And when Olympic gymnasts do these elements, we are in awe, because they dedicate themselves to knowing the elements and being fit enough to execute them.

The actor who understands the “elements” like playing an action, or making a character choice, but isn’t emotionally connected to the material leaves the audience cold, or even worse – uncomfortable for the actor. Like me doing my somersault, we don’t want to see it again! The out of shape actor can make sense of a part, but will lack the heart. And we need for the audience to be drawn into our performance, to feel what the actors feel – and if the actors feel nothing – well, the audience will feel nothing. THAT IS NOT ENOUGH! So we train, rigorously, like professional athletes, to take our performance to the next level. To put our abilities on par with the best actors out there.
So why take Meisner? Because it gets you to:
Discover who you are and how you are unique
Work from your instincts and not your intellect
Work honestly off of your acting partner
Access and strengthen your emotional range
Be fearless in your work
Make bold and honest choices
Be surrounded by other serious actors
Remove self consciousness
Really do, really feel, really fight, really laugh, really be…Really!
THE ABILITY TO DO THE ABOVE MEANS YOU ARE IN ACTOR SHAPE!

It also says a lot to the people who might hire you about how dedicated you are to mastering your craft. A casting director who sees that you have completed a true 1 or 2 year Meisner Program knows what they can expect. Spontaneity, emotional range, self knowledge, brave choices and truthful behavior.

I hope I will see you working out with me this Fall!

For more information on the studio visit us at www.emasla.com

Smart exceprt on Meisner

“Meisner was very opposed to Strassbergs use of Emotional Memory. He believed that depending on one’s own life experiences for emotional connection limited what the actor might be capable of playing. If an actor did not have a wealth of dramatic experiences from which to draw from, they would be at a disadvantage. He also feared that continually drawing on traumatic experiences from the past was not a healthy way to work.  Meisner preferred for actors to expand their imaginations so that they could connect to the imaginary circumstances of the play and stay in character, always working from what the actor’s truthful response to imaginary circumstances.  He discovered that the body often responded to a fully lived fantasy in the same way they responded to real life events.”

learn more from the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio on the Meisner Technique

DO WHAT YOU CAME HERE TO DO!

Wow!  I cannot believe that the summer is already over.  It absolutely flew by. Thank you for making our summer programs such a success.  And if you are new to EMAS, Welcome!  EMAS is a dynamic professional acting training studio for the dedicated actor at any stage of his or her career.

Our summer was jam packed with two great Meisner Intensives, the return of Chris Game for Commercial Technique and the Advanced On Camera class.  It left me hardly any time to go to the beach!  And to top it all off EMAS’ very own Three Feathers Theatre Company was voted “Most Promising Theatre Company in L.A.” by Backstage West!

But the summer is almost over, Hollywood is picking up the pace and so is EMAS.  This newsletter is a way for you to find out about what has been going on at EMAS and more importantly what is coming up. Because, as we all know in this crazy business called acting, the only thing you have control over is your craft!  So take control of it and make sure you are getting all the skills you need to be at the top of your game. Look for information on our Fall Meisner ProgramScene Study, and Beginning Acting classes.

So I hope you have had a fantastic summer, are well rested and ready to get back to work!  Because it is time to

DO WHAT YOU CAME HERE TO DO!
See you soon!

Elizabeth

A note from the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio

An interview with some if our working actors.

At EMAS we have a number of students and alumni who are out there working professionally – I had a chance to get a little insight from 5 of our students and to talk about what tools they use on set and what the Meisner training brings to their performances.

I spoke with:

Sharif Atkins: currently he plays Clinton Jones on TNT’s White Collar, other credits include The Good Wife, The 4400 and 4 years as Dr. Michael Galant on ER.

Susane Lee: appeared in The Soloist with Jamie Foxx, Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, VP and the film festival favorite Kosher Pig.

Christopher T. Wood: whose credits include Ira Ungerleider in Friends with Benefits and roles on The Office and Without a Trace.

Charles Michael Davis: currently plays Liam on ABC family’s Switched at Birth. He’s also shooting for BET’s The Game.

Lily Holleman: most recently starred in the West Coast premier of Circle Mirror Transformation at South Coast Repertory. She also starred in the independent movie urFRENZ which will be on Video on Demand this Fall.

Elizabeth: So, we have a lot of students at the studio who are just at the beginning of their training or people who are just trying to decide what direction to go in to start their acting careers – could you share a little about your first steps into acting?

Sharif: As a young actor, the Meisner Training was so important to me. It helps you know who you are, which is key to being a successful actor.

Chris: Definitely, it really taught me how to bring myself to any role I may play. When you are starting out they don’t want big character choices – they just want you to “be the guy” they are casting. I got very comfortable being myself in a variety of imaginary circumstances.

Sharif: Yes, and the ability to access any emotion in a fictional context is priceless. Elizabeth, I always remember that moment in class when I had an emotional breakthrough when doing an activity. It is the doing that fuels the emotions, and it is the emotion that drives the doing. When you see it at work it is beautiful, and so helpful for the actor’s process.

Susane: The Meisner work really gave me the tools to approach a role whether it’s for an audition or for something that I’ve booked. That gave me the confidence to work deeply and effectively enough to really be free and enjoy the ride of the scene no matter what the medium is.

Charles: Having no theatre experience and very few credits before I started the program – the sheer volume of stage time I had in class and the variety of exercises were invaluable to bringing me closer to the experience level of a working actor. I worked in every class – and my best was demanded every class. The program is so challenging that it has really helped me handle the demands of working on set or location.

Chris: Definitely, my toughest times as an actor always come in class with you…it makes being on set easy, like a vacation!

Elizabeth: That being said – what are the biggest challenges of being on set?

Lily: As an actor, we always have battles with insecurity, but those are few and far between when you know that your foundation is 100% solid. Once I got cast on very short notice, and during the short rehearsals, I got very sick – I just relied on the skills I learned at EMAS, the emotional preparation, the listening and responding as well as the vocal and physical warm ups to get me through – and I did it – with very little rehearsal. What you need to do is drilled into you – so preparing for a role becomes second nature.

Susane: It’s about trusting that you’ve paved the way for something magical to occur. I have to remember to breathe (no seriously) and to just give fully. In the Meisner work I’ve learned to effectively listen and respond so that I can stay open and alive to my partner and to trust whatever may happen between us.

Chris: For sure – you need to train in a way that your skills can get into your bones as opposed to your head – so when there is a challenge – it’s easier to call upon them.

Sharif: Often, my biggest challenge is wanting to make power-packed choices dripping with nuance for every moment of every scene. My cure for that actor malady, is relaxing into the simple Meisner exercise of observing behavior and trusting m y instincts, the script, the other actors and understanding my characters function. I still have to work hard to prepare so that the scene can eventually seem simple though, but once I’m on set – I just have to give over to the moment to moment work.

Charles: For me the difficult times come up when I am self conscious. Self- consciousness can really make you lose your focus. I always have to go back to the fundamentals – focus on your partner or on the circumstances, on what you as the character has to get done…focus on elements outside myself and as one of my favorite directors says “really listen”.

Elizabeth: So what made you decide to train at EMAS? Why do you recommend the program?

Sharif: I recommend EMAS because of Elizabeth Mestnik.

Elizabeth: Thanks!

Sharif: I trust that the teachers you hire match your level of insight, compassion and ability. You have to have an eye for BS as an acting teacher and you have it. You’ve called me on my own more than once in class. You have an eye for nuance, the little itty bitty details that others may miss. Those details could be what moves a scene from good to great.

Lily: I knew that the Meisner work was developed to prime an actor’s unique point of view – and that was lacking from my acting. But not anymore.

Charles: I was recommended to the school by a fellow actor – I took some introductory classes didn’t want to stop – so I took the whole 2 year program.

Susane: Elizabeth constantly pushed us – I was in Charles’ class – and he’ll agree – she pushed us always to strive for excellence. I am definitely a stronger actor having gone through the 2 year program.

Charles: Yes – and you get a lot of personal attention at EMAS. It expanded my emotional range and strengthened my sense of truth.

Chris: I recommend EMAS because it made me a working actor.

Lily: You should study at EMAS if you want to inspire and be inspired and take a unique journey of self discovery that allows you to be a professional actor.

Sharif: When you look in the dictionary under reall really good , high quality acting teachers, of the many faces you will see – you will no doubt see Elizabeth’s.

Elizabeth: Oh, wow… Thanks so much everybody.

Another article from the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio

Free introductory workshop on The Meisner Technique in L.A.

Free introductory workshop on The Meisner Technique in Los Angeles

Saturday August 27th from 10am – 4pm Elizabeth Mestnik will be holding a free introductory workshop on The Meisner Technique. Spaces will be available for the first 20 people to contact the studio. This is a great on your feet workshop that will help you understand the Meisner Process and what it might do for you or your acting. Contact us at director@emasla.com or call 323-528-6280.

Beyond Repetition – by Elizabeth Mestnik

To Behave Truthfully under Imaginary Circumstances” – Sanford Meisner’s Sanford Meisnerdefinition of acting.

The Independent Activity is the next step after the basic repetition exercise. It is the phase of the work that really brings home what it means to “behave truthfully”.   In this phase of the work a student is asked to do a physically difficult task, something that takes 110% of their concentration to achieve.   This is a surprise to actors who in the past have only “pretended” on stage before – “pretended” to read a letter, or “pretended” make lunch.  Here any activity they do they have to REALLY do it.  To help their concentration we give the activity certain guidelines, which we introduce one at a time:

  1. A standard of perfection that lets us know if we are succeeding with the activity.  For example, it’s not enough to build a house of cards, the student must get more specific, ie: build a 3-story house using all 52 cards.
  2. A simple and specific reason for needing to do the activity.
  3. Urgency:  which means they know how much time they need to get this activity done; no more and no less.

An activity that does not integrate all of these criteria is not acceptable, and the student starts to learn how to hold themselves to high standards.  Any holes in the crafting will keep the improvisation that is to come from fully developing.  It will hurt their acting.

Skills learned through The Independent Activity:

  • It grounds the student in the reality of doing.  Nothing we do in these first steps is pretend. What that means is that they learn how to really do something under imaginary circumstances.  If they choose to paint a picture, they really paint, and really give themselves a standard of perfection to help them know if they are succeeding or failing.
  • It reveals that emotion is a by-product of DOING.  The more they REALLY do the activity, and the more they struggle with it, the more likely REAL emotional life will start to emerge (usually frustration).
  • It teaches that the more specific the actor is in his or her crafting, the easier it is to believe in the imaginary circumstances.
  • It begins the exploration of what makes the actor tick, what pushes each individual actor’s emotional buttons.  As we start to make the reasons for doing the activity have greater importance (what we call raising the stakes) the actor is forced to craft from personal feelings – what makes them angry, or scared, or exhilarated.

emas268While this actor is working on their independent activity, their partner will start the repetition exercise – and we learn that acting means you must DO and you must also work off of your partner – and neither can be sacrificed.  It’s very difficult to do.  The actor with the independent activity will want to tune their partner out in order to work on their activity, or they will stop working on their activity in order to work off of their partner – and yet they cannot do this – they must do both. This creates an innate push and pull for the actor “I need to get this activity done, but this other person is demanding my attention and keeping me from succeeding”.  It ultimately will create a conflict between the partners.  Believe it or not – these exercises were developed to create conflict because acting is full of dramatic fights. As an actor we must embrace conflict in a scene. In the real world many of us avoid conflict at all costs, but as actors we have to be comfortable living in the drama.  The Independent Activity also teaches the actor to:

  • Stand up for themselves and find their voice
  • Work from a place of sensitivity and compassion
  • Craft from what has real meaning for them but not from real life.  Acting is always imaginary and if we use real life drama that is not acting, and not a healthy way to work

Emotional Preparation comes next – and that is the very personal technique that we use to get to a heightened emotional state, on our own, without the assistance of an activity or a partner. It is self-induced emotional life.  It’s not our favorite way to connect emotionally but it’s important to be able to do this when the actor has to start a scene already fully alive.  This happens all the time in film shoots where filming may pick up over and over again in the middle of a scene.  We do this work so that the actor develops an entire repertoire of emotions to bring to the imaginary circumstances. The week–in, week-out emotional workout also helps our emotional life to be easily called up at a moments notice.  We can create any emotional life that the character might demand.

The Domestic Exercise comes next – this is when the students start to create different relationships with their partners.  We make sure that the actor doesn’t lose their moment-to-moment connection for the sake of a full emotional life.  Emotion is seductive when it first starts to come up, it feels good to feel! But an audience doesn’t want to sit there watching someone emote.  They want to see what the character does THROUGH the emotion.  The actor has to be reminded that acting is not emotion but that the emotion will inform how the actor DOES something.  Emotion without doing is not acting.

Student at elizabeth meznik Actors studio acting classFinally, we introduce the Shared Circumstances.  With this work, actors start to think like actors, learning how to ask the right questions and flesh out the scenes.  They get more specific about their relationships, and strengthen their points of view.  They start to work on objectives from an organic approach rather than in intellectual one. This is when each actor’s uniqueness really starts to shine.  All the while the student must NEVER lose the essential idea that everything you do is in RESPONSE to your partner, moment to moment.  It’s what we developed through the repetition exercises, and just because we’ve moved on to other steps – we can never lose that foundation.  Day in and day out, in these improvisational scenes that are built from the repetition exercise, the actors get to:

  • Expand their emotional lives.
  • Exercise their imaginations.
  • Hone their crafting.
  • Find their unique voice.

It’s an intense and challenging program, but those who dedicate themselves to this work will never be the same, as actors, as artists or as people.

Stay tuned – our next discussion will be about how Scene Work is integrated into the first year of Meisner Technique.

Article written by Elizabeth Mestnik

What does the Meisner Technique Teach?

The Repetition Exercise and How it Works:

Sanford Meisner Portrait
Sanford Meisner

I’m asked all the time “What do you teach actors?  What do you learn in a Meisner Technique program?”  I mean truly, the skill sets required of actors are often not visible to the untrained eye, the best acting is invisible, it looks just like real life, so I am not surprised that the beginning acting student isn’t sure what it is they need to learn to become a truthful exciting actor.  So I usually explain to them that we teach you how to be truthful in your acting, you learn how to act from your instincts and not your head, we fine tune your ability to be in true contact with another actor, how to tap into your imagination to emotionally connect to the dramatic circumstances of the script, you learn to sensitize to the world around you so you can walk in your character’s shoes with emotional truth and integrity…and at some point in this long list they interrupt and ask “how do you do that?” .  And that is where it gets tricky, because as “simple” as the Meisner Technique’s structure is, it’s ramifications are profound and address so many of the actor’s needs – it’s difficult to sum it up in a brief conversation.  The best way to understand the work is by reading one of the two great books on the process, –William Esper’s book “The Actor’s Art and Craft” or, of course, Sanford Meisner’s book “On Acting”.  But these conversations have gotten me to thinking that maybe we could give people a skeletal understanding of the Meisner steps and what skills they address.  I do this because it is important for us to understand that the skills actors need go way beyond memorizing lines and hitting your mark.

The Repetition Exercise is the most well known phase of Meisner’s work and it lays a really important foundation for the more complex exercises and important scene work that comes down the road.

For me the Repetition exercise has 3 phases:

  1. Objective Repetition without changes
  2. Objective Repetition with changes
  3. Subjective Repetition with changes

All of which develop the actor’s ability to work off of their partner, work impulsively and stand up for their own feelings.  Here is how this little repetition exercise does all that.

The Objective Repetition without changes, starts with someone commenting on the first thing they see in their acting partner and then their partner repeating what they said and this repetition of the same observation goes on and on – it’s a simple but very powerful exercise that teaches actors

  • How to honor their impulses by commenting on the first thing they notice– honoring what they really see before the sensors of politeness and manners set in.  Contrary to mom’s advice we want you to speak before you think!  We are teaching you to stop the judgment of your observations – so if the first thing they notice is “big nose” they have to say it!  We are developing their ability to act from an impulse rather than their intellect, responding from the heart not the head. Just repeating also removes the need to come up with the words also helps keeps the student from thinking too much.
  • How to put your focus and attention on one thing – their partner, and be able to read their partner’s behavior.  In a time where we are always distracted, by an email, a phone call, a billboard, re-learning how to stay focused over time is an invaluable skill.  Ultimately this is about connecting with another human being and allowing all other distractions to fall away so you can truly be present with someone else, truly be affected by them, and live in the moment.  Learning to put your focus somewhere outside of oneself is also an invaluable tool to calm nerves.
  • How to allow yourself to be affected by someone else and how to give your body and voice permission to reveal how you are feeling.  We are trained in life not to show our weaknesses, our worry, our vulnerability and that can create a lot of tension that keeps the actor from being expressive.  We are trained in life to show only our “best” selves, but as actors we must show our “true” selves.   Sometimes students become robotic in this first step for fear of not doing it right.  We don’t care about being right we care about behaving truthfully.  We remove the idea of being right or wrong and substitute the idea of either being present or not to your partner and to the moment.

student actor teacher exerciseRepetition with changes.  Now the actor is allowed to change the repetition when their partner inspires them to do so. It may be as simple as a fact “you scratched your nose”, or it may go deeper to “you are flirting with me”.  At first whatever they notice and can put into words is valid. And when they can’t find the words, they continue to repeat.   We want to make sure that they aren’t thinking before they speak and they aren’t intellectually searching for a way to change the repetition.  It is better to just repeat than to intellectualize.  This phase

  • Furthers the actor’s ability to read behavior, and now makes the actor commit to calling the behavior, without polite editing.  Removing the editor in one’s mind is an important aspect of getting actors to be instinctual and emotional.
  • Enhances the impulsive response, which is not within the actor’s control.  Controlling the changes in the repetition exercise means the actor is still working from their head and aren’t completely free.
  • Is the beginning step of the actors finding their own point of view, of really taking in how someone is behaving and having an opinion about it.

Subjective Repetition With Changes.  Now instead of calling the first thing they see in their partner to start off the exercise, the actor is prompted to put their point of view out there – to have the courage to have an opinion about what they see.  This can be a very difficult step – as we have been taught from a very young age to avoid being completely truthful when in dialogue with someone else.   We are taught not to say anything that might make someone uncomfortable, and so saying what we really think is tough – and hearing it and really taking it in is also very tough.  I once had a young man say to a really beautiful young woman “you are gorgeous”.  It was completely truthful and heartfelt, and this beautiful young woman was completely overwhelmed by the honesty and genuineness that she welled up with tears.  Why? Because the safe space of the classroom allowed he to let go of her defenses and show her feelings and because we don’t get opportunities for this sincerity very often in real life! But I say in this work we are not looking to behave as we would in real life – we want to be MORE TRUTHFUL than we are in real life.  That is why audiences pay money to see us, because we will reveal to them something BEYOND what they experience in the every day.  So this phase continues to solidify working from the instinct, and staying connected with the partner, but it’s most profound work is that it

  • Teaches us to look for the TRUTH in all our work.

So that is the REPETITION EXERCISE broken down as simply as I am able.  It is such an invaluable foundation to truthful, spontaneous acting – but it is only the beginning.  Next I’ll talk about the Independent Activity, Emotional Preparation, Scene Work, Relationships and Shared Circumstances exercises.  However, none of these more advanced exercises are doable unless the actor is able to work off of their partner, honor their impulses and have a point of view, all skills that are learned in the Repetition Exercises.

Article by Elizabeth Mestnik about the Meisner Technique.

Basics of the Meisner Technique

Great Acting Requires:

two actors in a scene trainingConnection: You must know how to listen and give yourself permission to be affected by your acting partners and the imaginary circumstances of the scene.

Focus: You must learn how to focus on something outside yourself and how to really do what you are doing… for real, no pretending.

Expression: You must constantly work on being free to express emotion:  which means allowing your feelings to come out in behavior.

Self-Knowledge: Developing your Unique Point of View about the world:  you must know how you feel about things, people, and the world around you and what defense mechanisms you use in the real world to keep these feelings at bay.  These defense mechanisms must be stripped away before any truthful behavior can be revealed.

Impulsiveness: All good acting stems from an actors instincts, by honoring impulses and not intellectualizing the work.  We need to learn to act from our gut not our heads.

And you must have trained body and voice that is strong and dextrous enough to do all of this.

Technique: (noun) A systematic procedure, formula or routine by which a complicated task is accomplished; the way in which the fundamentals, as of an artistic work, are handled.

All serious artists commit themselves to learning the technique of their craft, no one is asked to play a Bach concerto at their first piano lesson, but in many acting classes beginning students are given complex scenes on the first day – asked to perform them, given a few perfunctory notes, and this is considered acting training.

The Meisner Technique, however, takes the training of actors as seriously and as systematically as the training of dancers and musicians.  As teachers of Sanford Meisner’s work, we consider a mastery of “technique” (the SYSTEMATIC procedure needed by actors to create great performances) absolutely necessary.  The Meisner Technique is a systematic, step-by-step process that allows for actors to gain the skill sets required to create a character and live in the imaginary world of the play. The skills required to act go way beyond how to memorize lines and hit your marks.

Everything we do in the Meisner Technique takes us back to those 5 major skill sets – and so how do we gain skills?  How does an NBA player improve his jump shot?  Not in the game – but through drills, exercises and PRACTICE! – and that is how we improve our connection, our focus, our emotional expression our self-knowledge, and hone our instincts – PRACTICE!

WHY STUDY MEISNER?

How is the Meisner Technique different than other approaches to actor training?  Why would you pursue this type of program over all the other acting classes in Los Angeles?  In this age of immediate gratification and short attention spans, it seems like The Meisner Technique may fall out of favor, and yet it is still one of the most respected techniques in Hollywood.  Why?

The Meisner Technique demands that an actor make a commitment to their training, and if you are in a program that follows Sanford Meisner’s syllabus, this training will take place over 9-months.  This is serious training for serious students. Those who come to Hollywood to get famous quickly and easily wouldn’t even consider something like this. So why should you make this sacrifice of time, effort, and yes – money?  What does the Meisner Technique do that is so special?

To put it simply – it gets you in actor shape.

I have always compared Acting to other difficult endeavors like playing an instrument or sports, endeavors that also show that whatever effort you put in shows in the product you put out.   So, to continue this metaphor, if acting is like, say… Gymnastics… then Meisner is the daily workout at the gym to get strong and flexible.  The more traditional acting skills (objectives, actions, character biography etc) are like learning the different elements, – (the cartwheel, the back flip, the somersault etc.)  Most Acting Classes teach you the elements, but don’t know how to get you into shape.

Now I will be honest with you.  I can do a somersault, and I can even do a cartwheel – but they are pretty pathetic because at the age of 42, I’m really not all that strong and flexible.  But if I worked out every day to increase my upper body strength and the flexibility of my spine, those elements would look much better.  And when Olympic gymnasts do these elements, we are in awe, because they dedicate themselves to knowing the elements and being fit enough to execute them.

The actor who understands the “elements” like playing an action, or making a character choice, but isn’t emotionally connected to the material leaves the audience cold, or even worse – uncomfortable for the actor.  Like me doing my somersault, we don’t want to see it again!  The out of shape actor can make sense of a part, but will lack the heart.  And we need for the audience to be drawn into our performance, to feel what the actors feel – and if the actors feel nothing – well, the audience will feel nothing.  THAT IS NOT ENOUGH!  So we train, rigorously, like professional athletes, to take our performance to the next level.  To put our abilities on par with the best actors out there.

So why take Meisner?  Because it gets you to:

  • Discover who you are and how you are unique
  • Learn how to bring your uniqueness into performance
  • Work honestly off of your acting partner
  • Access and strengthen your emotional range
  • Be fearless in your work
  • Make bold and honest choices
  • Work from your instincts and not your intellect
  • Personalize any material so that you can connect to it
  • Remove self consciousness by focusing on the tasks and people in the scene
  • Really do, really feel, really fight, really laugh, really be…Really!

THE ABILITY TO DO THE ABOVE MEANS YOU ARE IN ACTOR SHAPE!

When you complete a Meisner Technique program and can put it on your resume, it also says a lot to the people who might hire you about how dedicated you are to mastering your craft.  A casting director who sees that you have completed a true 1 or 2-year Meisner Program knows what they can expect.  Spontaneity, emotional range, self-knowledge, brave choices and truthful behavior.

That is why you invest in a Meisner Technique Training Program.  To get in shape. Quite simply, to be the best.