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Ian Hayes – The First Year in the Acting Program

During this interview, Ian Hayes talks with Katie about the first year in the professional acting program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio. Ian discusses what he thought the Meisner Technique was before he came to the studio, why he chose this acting studio and what it is like to have both good and bad days in acting classes.

new york acting programs - maggie flanigan studio - Ian Hayes

New York Acting Program – Maggie Flanigan Studio – Ian Hayes

Ian Hayes: the First Year in the Acting Program

Q: Ian, what did you think the Meisner technique was before you started your training at the studio?

A: All I really heard about it was that this is a bunch of repetition and somehow that made you a better actor. I really had no idea. When I decided to come to this school, I talked about it with some people that had done some other acting training. Only a few of them had ever just taken the first year now, but I know, and they were like, “It’s amazing. Really, the repetition it really teaches you what it is you offer,” or something like that. I don’t know, I thought somehow that was the basis for it. Now, the way I understand it is that the Meisner technique is really a way for you to learn how truthfully do and that repetition is having just the tip of the iceberg.


"This program really teaches you how to be accountable for yourself. There's no hiding. You can't slip through and slide through things."

Ian HayesFirst Year Student, Two-Year Acting Program

It’s more of a tool as opposed to the technique. Meisner teaches you how to do it in a healthy way, which is what I love about it since it is all rooted in the imagination, which is darkness and it’s always changing. I love that about the technique because I thought that I had to be very damaged human being to be a good actor, to have the experience to draw from and Meisner says, “No. As long as you have that healthy imagination, you can put yourself in very traumatizing or joyful experiences,” and like, “That’s really what you need to be an actor.” That’s how I see it now. It’s a way back to your inner child to use your imagination and strangely, use your imagination to do it truthfully.

Q: Why did you decide to study at Maggie Flanigan Studio?

A: Two reasons. I eventually went to a larger college. I came from a tiny town and I thought I wanted that, which I think did me well, but I hated being a number. I did not complete college, and I think, that had a lot to do with it. When I knew that I wanted something, more rigorous training in acting, a big part about it for me was the community. Will the teacher know who I am? Will they know what I’m late? Will I know the other students? Will people care if I am there or if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing or not? Because at the school I was at, I didn’t get that at all. I kind of just went, “Well, screw everyone.” I’m much younger, then.

Reason two is honestly just when I met with Charlie. I was looking at a Michael Chekhov studio as well in Boston. It’s the only serious studio in Boston. I met with Charlie in my initial interview, and he told me the schedule. I went back to the teacher and head of that Chekhov studio and- who actually I later found out had worked with Maggie years ago. He also teaches the Meisner Technique. So I really- I believe in it, and I think Chekhov is perfect– Anyways, when I told them Charlie’s schedule, this guy said, “There is no way you’re telling me that this guy does nine hours for this every week.”

I said, “Well, yes.” He was like, “There’s no way it’s possible.” To me, I said, “Well, okay. It is because that’s what he does; therefore, I definitely want to go to this guy.” Because he obviously takes it much more seriously and that’s just what right to me. I was like, “I’m definitely going to learn a lot more from Charlie than the other guy who won’t give that to his students or to the craft, teaching how to act.” Those are the two big reasons for me.

Q: Now that you’re done with your first year, what did you learn about yourself this year that was a surprise?

A: For me, honestly, I learned that I could finish something on my own. That was a big thing because I didn’t finish college, a typical academic college. I think the biggest thing, honestly, is that my emotional well, so to speak, or spectrum is way grander than I thought. I thought that just from different life experiences that I’ve kind of lost my ability to cry, my ability to feel sad really or empathy or be vulnerable in certain situations. This program told me that I’m still a human. That has been huge for me and has really improved my relationships with myself and with those closest to me.

That is hugely gratifying and fortunate. The other thing, too, I guess, that I found out what that hard work means. I found out that I’m not afraid to fail, which- I don’t want to say I didn’t know about myself because I tried a lot of different things. Obviously, things didn’t work out as I had maybe hoped, but to fail day in and day out and walk away alive and okay is also huge for me. This program really puts you through that gauntlet and through that trial and tribulation. I feel thrilled that I can do it.

Q: What’s it like to have a bad day in acting class?

A: It’s still worst, but really, the only have a terrible day in acting class, when you don’t do the work outside of class. That’s why it’s the worst because you have no one to blame except for yourself, which is in one side, it feels awful, but then in the other hand, well, that’s something I can fix. It’s not hopeless. It’s not out of my control. It’s when you know you didn’t do the work and at this program, which I love about it, there’s no hiding. You can’t slip through and slide through things.

It really teaches you how to be accountable for yourself. The worst days for me were when I had to deal with that about myself. Letting yourself down really is the worst. You think it’s letting Charlie down, but in the end, it’s really you let yourself down. That’s the worst part about it.

Q: What is it like to have a breakthrough in class or a good day?

A: It’s usually very emotional, and it’s intense. It just means that you let yourself release. I don’t know. It feels amazing. I don’t know. It feels like so many things. It’s very intangible, but it’s a very intense experience. Then, you come out, and you’re alive, and you’re still yourself. It was imaginary and you can just kind of sit there and go, “Yes. I did that. I went there.”

Also, it’s just a very educational experience because you did the things right outside of class that allowed you to go there. It connects dots. That is also a huge, gratifying and enlightening experience when you have a good day, and you’re like, “Wow. Okay, I had a good day because of X, Y, and Z. I did X, Y, and Z. Now, I understand how that works and how these pieces fit together to bring about this experience.”

this image is from the maggie flanigan studio acting program. students are in class at the studio as part of the acting program for serious actors. Students are with charlie Sandlan who is addressing the students at the end of the first year of the two year program.

Two Year Acting Program New York – Maggie Flanigan Studio – (917) 794-3878

Learn More About the Two Year Acting Program in New York

Learn more about the Maggie Flanigan Studio and why many actors consider this acting program to be the best in New York and the U.S. by visiting the studio website ( ). Admission to the acting studio is by interview only, so interested students should contact the studio to arrange an interview.

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