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Acting Relationship and Shared Circumstance

In this blog post, Charlie Sandlan of the Maggie Flanigan Studio in New York City discusses the importance of understanding and developing the acting relationship between two people. Charlie explains how shared circumstances can help to create an emotional connection between two actors that allows them to craft a meaningful performance.

Meisner Technique Acting Relationship and Shared Circumstance – Maggie Flanigan Studio

The Acting Relationship and Shared Circumstance

After our second round scenes, we start to get to some excellent stuff. The acting relationship is the next big thing introduced over the first year. You must answer the third question in the progression of Meisner’s crafting as an actor. Fundamentally, what’s the acting relationship? Who are you to me in this scene? How do I feel about you? Often, that comes from what’s happened between us; something happened between you and me; we have a shared circumstance. In most scenes, most acting involves shared circumstances.


These shared circumstances are the payoff of the first year. They're enjoyable, they're rich, and they're life-altering. It becomes this beautiful spontaneous improvisational exercise.

Charlie SandlanMaster Acting Teacher

We go back to the exercise, and we begin to start to work with shared circumstances. Now, we’re substantiating the acting relationship. The acting relationship is significant. That’s not what I call the program relationship, “Oh, here’s my brother, it’s my sister, it’s my husband, it’s my wife.” You can’t act that. It’s way too general.

What you need to be able to do as an actor is to be able to craft that acting relationship in emotional terms, with an emotional point of view, how I feel about you, often because of what’s just happened between us, and being able to characterize another person. It changes how you work off of them. It changes how you use moments; how you feel about what’s being said to you comes out of the acting relationship.

We will work on that. This is the payoff of the first year, these shared circumstances. They’re enjoyable, they’re rich, and they’re life-altering. It becomes this beautiful spontaneous improvisational exercise. When it’s crafted well, and students are working well, they are starting to assemble all of the fundamental skills you need to be a competent, decent, clear actor.

The Two Year Program with the Meisner Technique

At Maggie Flanigan Studio (, actors can take the two-year Meisner acting program, which includes training with master acting teacher Charlie Sandlan. Actors with or without prior experience are welcome to apply for admission at the studio. To apply or to learn more about the Meisner technique, visit the Maggie Flanigan Studio website or call (917) 794-3878.

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