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Using My Heart Instead of My Head

Many current and former students say that the best summer intensive acting programs are at Maggie Flanigan Studio. Ralph Anthony, a stand-up comic, discusses how the summer intensive helped him become a more vulnerable person and actor.

Best Summer Intensive Acting Programs – Interview with Ralph Anthony

The Best Summer Intensive Acting Programs - Ralph Anthony - Maggie Flanigan Studio

Summer Intensive Acting Programs – Ralph Anthony – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Q: Ralph, what did you learn about yourself over these past six weeks in this program that was a surprise?

That’s a good one. I think I was pretty surprised about how vulnerable I could be. I don’t think anybody is that comfortable being vulnerable, especially living in New York City. In New York, you have to have this tough exterior all the time and opening up those little doors about yourself and your past, it’s tough. Sometimes, people just don’t want to do it. You’re scared. It’s almost like opening Pandora’s box where you’re afraid if it’s going to be a flood. It’s like a flood of emotions. I learned how to do that and how to do it to make me feel comfortable and made me feel excited to be in a role or in acting with my partner in front of this class.


Charlie and Karen got me to be vulnerable. I almost cried twice in class. I think using my heart instead of my head to expose my vulnerability was the biggest thing that I learned.

Ralph AnthonyStudent, Summer Intensive Acting Programs

It was inspiring. Growing up, it was tough. For certain scenes or certain parts of the independent activity, I pulled upon those experiences to get me where I needed to be. It was cool just to see how I could connect from here or disconnect from this and rely on the heart, right from here. I remember that’s what Charlie always said. He says, “You can’t think from up here. You got to come from right here.” Using my heart instead of my head to expose my vulnerability was the biggest thing that I learned.

Q: You’re a stand-up comedian?


Q: How do you think the training will help you as a comedian?

I like to play off the audience a lot, especially in the beginning. If I’m doing a more extended set, if I’m doing 20 minutes, to half an hour, 45 minutes, I like to play off the crowd first. There are 200 people in there or 100 people or 50 people, whatever it is, they’re one person. They combine just to be one. It’s like you’re playing off your partner. Even though they’re looking at me, I just keep shifting the focus back onto them. It’s cool, the give and takes that you have. I had a show on Saturday where I did half an hour, and it was one of the best half an hour I ever did.

It was just so cool to be present. I think that’s something that I learned about myself before. Just how to be more present and actively listen to what the audience was giving me back and play off their facial expressions or what they were saying. I think that’s really how this course and this class has helped me be more present and playing off of them more. It’s a weird version of the repetition exercise. It’s a lot of fun. This past weekend, it was one of the most fun times I’ve had on stage. I was just playing off of people because it was a smaller crowd.

It was 7,000 degrees outside this weekend, so there weren’t many people out, so I had to hone and use what I’ve been learning to get that give and take, that back and forth, and just really use them and pretend like they were only one partner. It was, let’s say, 30 people there, but there was just one scene partner for me, so I’m just playing off of them a little bit better.

Best Summer Acting Classes Interview with Ralph Anthony - Maggie Flanigan Studio

Summer Acting Classes – Ralph Anthony Interview  – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Q: How would you say the sense of community at the studio contributed to your experience in the past six weeks?

Whether it’s how you get to watch your classmates with the value in that or some people are usually only interested in private coaching, but whether it was just the valuable lessons you learned from watching them or working outside of the classroom?

Having a sense of community, for me, being new to this whole acting, just acting in general, I think having that sense of community helped because we all struggle. We’re all going through our things and figuring out where we’re going in this course and how we’re learning. You learn by doing, so if you’re watching somebody else and seeing what they’re doing well, you want to find out. You want to talk to them. A couple of kids in my class, a couple of other students that, watching them, was just so phenomenal, just so phenomenal.

Right off the bat, especially for me, I was impressed by how these actors can get their minds where they needed to be with the independent activity. Get their account, get their heart, get everything aligned so they could have a successful interaction. That was tough for me in the beginning. Seeing them so successful and just being able to talk to them, I think it’s cool. I would never want to do one on one. I don’t think I would ever want to do that. I would want to be in a classroom setting because you need people to lean upon. For lack of a way of putting it, but when a peer comes up to you and says, “Wow. That was amazing. We were on the edge of our seat last Friday watching you and your scene partner do your scene.”

summer acting program banner

We were doing Wednesday’s Child. Just to do that scene and then have those compliments, it was terrific. It was so amazing because I almost blacked out. It was like there was no one in the classroom. Charlie wasn’t there. None of my other- students were there. It was just me and my partner or my partner and I. Then to hear that in the end, it’s cold, you need that community. Especially with this because it’s not easy. If it were easy, everybody would do it, or everybody would do it and be successful. I think having a sense of community is fantastic.

We had that same vision. Everything was all aligned. You don’t spend money. You don’t invest in something if you’re not passionate about it. Everybody, whatever their talent level was, had the same level of passion, and it just all aligned. It was refreshing to see. Watching other people grow, not only so much myself, but if you have a one-on-one, it’s just you and your teacher. You need to see the other people around you. It’s fun to watch your peers come alive. Those last- let’s see, we finished yesterday? Monday, Friday, Wednesday, just seeing people come alive. It’s inspiring, and it makes you want to get to the next level. I love that sense of community. It’s pretty cool.

charlie sandlan in class during the summer intensive

Charlie Sandlan – Acting Teacher New York NY – Maggie Flanigan Studio (917) 794-3878

Q: How would you describe Charlie Sandlan as an acting teacher?

How much time do we have? Charlie’s second to none. Hands down, second to none. Probably, one of the most excellent teachers I’ve had in terms of anything I’ve done in my life. He’s a master of his craft. When you’re at that level, you have a higher bar of expectations, and you don’t lower the bar. That’s what I love. That’s how I was brought up. That’s how my parents raised me. That’s how some of the most influential coaches I had from playing sports taught me and trained me. He has a standard, and he won’t let it waver. He is tough, but he’s fair.

There were a couple of times where I wasn’t where I needed to be. I don’t want to say dropped the ball because I was so new, and there’s no ball to drop. I think people forget that you wish to constructive criticism, and that’s really what it is. He has such a vested interest in each one of the students. You wouldn’t be accepted into this program if he didn’t see anything. That’s why you have the interview process in the beginning because he gets a feel for you. He’s not going to let everyone in if he doesn’t feel like you’re going to be committed.

karen chamberlain teaching in the meisner summer intensive at maggie flanigan studio

Acting Teacher New York NY – Karen Chamberlain – (917) 794-3878

He’s tough, but he’s fair. He reminded me a lot of a coach that I had in high school. I was a big track athlete. My coach was just; he saw something in me that sometimes I couldn’t even notice. I used to run a 400 open, and I would go so hard that for the last 50 meters, 100 meters, I would run out of gas. My coach would start when you come around that final bend, and he would run the last 50 meters, the last 100 meters, and he would be yelling at me and pushing me, and I would keep going and going. When I had nothing left, I still kept going. That’s what Charlie reminded me of, right from the first class. I don’t want to be cuddled. I want to be pushed. I want you to get on me. If I’m not doing it, you tell me how to do it. It’s tough love, and he loves his craft. He loves acting. He eats, breaths, and sleeps it. It’s just cool, and it’s fantastic to have somebody so passionate as your teacher because it creates that passion.

We all want to do something. We are all on this program to be actors. That’s what we want to do. Sometimes people forget, you could be enthralled with being an actor, but you aren’t fascinated with all the work that you have to go along with it. That’s what Charlie brings to the table. He gets you to be passionate about the hard work and all the little steps. I mean he got me– I almost cried twice in class. Look at the size of me. He got me to be vulnerable, him and Karen. They were like a one-two punch. When he wasn’t there, she was there. It was just amazing to have that level of intensity. I honestly can’t say enough great things.

He’s a cool dude. You want teachers like that, especially for this. You want somebody that’s like that. You don’t want somebody that’s kind of not do something wholeheartedly. You don’t want a teacher, especially with this, you don’t want a teacher that’s a, I don’t want to say like a failed actor, but like an actor trying to get to where you are going. When he explained how he got into teaching, I think that’s what helped mold our perception, at least in my opinion, because his goal is to educate and help us. That’s what you want as a teacher.

You want somebody who will cultivate your ability and help you find what you’re looking for. There’s a lot of things– this is a big complicated thing right here. This is very complicated, but he helps simplify it as best he can. I was legitimately sad that yesterday was our last class. I didn’t want it to end because I like coming here. I love hearing; I just liked hearing the Charlieisms. “Would you be willing to walk on hot coals for this?” That’s one thing that I remember, especially with that independent activity. He says, “If you have passion, you have to be willing to walk on hot coals if you have the desire.” I’m ready to burn the bottoms of my feet off. That’s what Charlie does. He makes you want to burn the bottom of your feet. You want to keep working. You want to be dedicated. You don’t want to let him down. That’s a big thing.

Summer Intensive Acting Programs

Best Summer Intensive Acting Programs in NYC

To learn more about the best summer intensive acting programs in NYC, visit the Maggie Flanigan Studio website ( To apply for the summer programs or the two-year acting program, submit the online application. Students with specific questions about the schedule can call the studio directly at (917) 794-3878.

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