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Why Many Actors Struggle with Emotions and Acting

Charlie Sandlan is the head of acting at the Maggie Flanigan Studio. Here in this video, Charlie discusses why many actors struggle with emotions in their acting.

Emotions in Acting - Meisner Training at Maggie Flanigan Studio - (917) 794-3878

Emotions in Acting – Meisner Training at Maggie Flanigan Studio – (917) 794-3878

Why Many Actors Struggle with Emotions and Acting

Emotion, as it pertains to acting can be very elusive, and a misunderstood part of the art form. A big problem that many aspiring actors have is that they don’t possess an instrument that is pliable and vulnerable enough to access the full gamut of human emotion. Also, most actors misunderstand emotion in acting, often falsely believing that quantity is more important than quality. So actors struggle, often their entire careers, trying to figure out how to bring more depth to their work. How can you be more vulnerable? How can you find the ease to allow for a simple, fluid emotional life? How can you connect emotionally not only to text but the other actors on stage/on set? These are the problems that actors confront when dealing with emotion.


"Many actors struggle for their entire careers trying to figure out how to bring more depth to their work."

Charlie SandlanExecutive Director, Head of Acting

It can be frustrating to read a scene, and understand the emotional arc of the character and the depth of the experience intellectually but struggle to bring that forth in your behavior. If the actor is not vulnerable, the emotional connection can get blocked. Breath is vital in an actor’s ability to process deep, rich experience. The problem for those of you that want to be genuinely open and available in the imaginary world is that the parenting, socialization, and education that you have endured has built up walls that keep you protected and safe. These are all important to be a well-functioning adult but are a detriment if you want to be an emotionally sensitive actor. An actor must chip away at these defenses, so that your empathy, your humanity, and your vulnerability can come to the surface. I have found the Meisner Technique, created by Sandy Meisner in the 1930’s, to be the most effective way to accomplish this.

If you are an actor who has a very tense body and voice, an actor who may be up to this point has never seriously trained and worked on your craft, you probably have found yourself frustrated by the lack of depth in your acting. You must develop the capacity to feel pain, hurt, heartbreak, embarrassment, shame, grief, joy, silliness, humiliation, ultimately the entire gamut of human experience. That resides in you because you are human, but the great roles, the profound characters require actors to function from parts of themselves that they spend most of their lives repressing. We do not go through our days searching for conflict or have much experience performing from our rage or engaging in soul exposing intimacy. An actor must develop their instrument so that human emotion becomes their pallet. It takes a flexible body, a resonant voice, and a versatile temperament. It takes years to develop, and won’t be accomplished in a scene study, film & tv, or improv class.

And emotional availability isn’t enough if you want to be a great actor. You must also be ascetically pleasing to watch. In life, intense experiences cause us to tighten up, stop breathing, and often flee. But an actor doesn’t have that option. An actor must be able to release into intense emotion so that it’s not locked up. If you are serious about becoming a more versatile actor, than you must come to the understanding that serious training is the first big step in removing yourself from the pool of mediocrity. It’s the first door to open if you aspire to take on significant characters and lead parts.

Emotions and Meisner Acting - Maggie Flanigan Studio - (917) 794-3878

Emotions and Meisner Acting – Maggie Flanigan Studio – (917) 794-3878

Meisner Training at the Maggie Flanigan Studio

Learn more about the actor training and the acting programs that the studio provides, which are based on the principles of the Meisner Technique. Actors who are interested in applying for admission to the studio can call (917) 794-3878 to learn more about the admission process.

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