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Straight Forward and Real

The six-week summer acting program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio introduces the actor to the Meisner technique. In this interview, Carl Ackers talks to Katie about coming to the studio for the summer intensive while he was enrolled in the acting program at Howard University.

Summer Acting Program Interview: Carl Ackers ll

student in the studio talking about the summer acting program interview in New York

Meisner Summer Acting Programs – Carl Ackers ll – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Q: Call what did you think it meant to train as an actor before you started the six week Summer intensive at Maggie Flanigan Studio?

I guess since I’m currently in the acting program at our university, I had a better idea of what it meant of all the hard work and effort that it intended to put into being an actor. I’ve always thought that as much as I’m working, I could ever give more of this, always do more. I chastise myself sometimes when I’m not doing as much, but I always knew how rigorous it was and how it’s not nearly as simple as some people may think.


"I love Charlie as a teacher. He is someone, especially if you're not used to acting, that you have to kind of get used to. If he thinks you are not doing a good job, he will tell you. He is real and straight forward."

Carl Ackers llSummer Acting Program

Q: What happened over the six weeks in the summer intensive that changed your perspective on acting?

I would say, studying more Meisner. I studied Meisner before a bit in college, but I guess it was less of like, “Oh, this is specifically Meisner,” and more of like, “This is what my professor would teach me.” They made mention that it was Meisner before, but we never really harped on, “Oh, let’s go. Meisner is history now.” That kind of work we might have gone a little assignment to look into that stuff ourselves but nothing too significant. With any acting technique or any way to do acting, just doing it once is never enough to understand it fully. Even though I’ve done some of the exercises that we do in class with Charlie, it’s always nice to do it more so I can get better at it and find out if that style works for me.

Q: What part of the Meisner technique resonates with you the most?

The fact that you need to live. You need to react to what is being said to you, what’s being done to you. It’s not about what I think should be happening, what the words dictate should be happening. It’s about being as casual as possible while also knowing that you’re “acting” because acting and living can almost be synonymous. They can practically be when compared to each other. It’s finding that balance of knowing where the line between acting and living intermingle and where they begin and end.

Carl Ackers ll at Maggie Flanigan Studio talks with Katie about the summer acting program interview in New York City

Summer Acting Program Interview – Carl Ackers ll – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Q: What did you learn about yourself over these past six weeks that was a surprise or that changed you?

One of the exercises that Charlie has to do is to ask ourselves how we feel about certain things, about anything, how we think about the person next to us walking down the street, the person we’re having a conversation with, what we see on the news. That one struck me a bit in terms of you see things like how desensitized we’ve become to a lot of things, not necessarily in a negative aspect, just because that’s how we have to survive to live because of all the negativity that there is in the world. For an actor, we need to know both ends of the spectrum.

We need to know how we feel about specific events, specific details so that we know if we want to talk about it, how we want to talk about it, how it affects us. For me personally, I use the mentality of how will I feel about this particular thing, about a past event that happened to me with a falling out with a person that I was really close with, and where I settled with that emotionally, where I sat with it that instead of brushing it off, I guess.

Q: Why did you decide to come to Maggie Flanigan Studio this summer instead of one of the other studios in New York?

Both of my professors studied under Bill Esper. I know at least one of them directly knows Charlie. They recommended it to me. I know there’s always 100,000 different programs that you can do, but I specifically take what my professors say. I know they have my best reasons at heart. I trust that they know what they’re talking about when they say, “Oh, do this program. You’ll earn your money’s worth; then you’ll grow as an actor.” It was more about their recommendation.

Q: What did you find that made Maggie Flanigan Studio different from other acting studios?

I would say probably, Charlie. I get this and my colleagues about how straight forward and real he is. It starts with people who wouldn’t teach Meisner and how they are with you in class. I don’t like it when someone might praise you for something that you don’t deserve, or they’ll try and let you down easy to not hurt your feelings. I know there’s always a way to say something. There’s a right way of saying it and a wrong way of saying it.

I feel like Charlie fully understands this is the safe area. If we want to get out there, they are not going to be as kind as Charlie is. Even if Charlie seems rough at times, I know it’s never with any malice, I know it’s never because he has a problem with any of us. It’s because he just simply wants us to understand it and wants us to be better at what we’re doing genuinely. I respect that honesty of him.

Q: How would you describe Charlie Sandlan as a teacher?

Charlie, I love Charlie as a teacher. He’s someone, especially if you’re not used to acting, you have to kind of get used to. It wasn’t necessarily like anything is wrong with his personality, but just kind of how he doesn’t mince his words. If he doesn’t believe you’re doing a good job, he’ll tell you. He embodies something that I’ve learned as an actor where you have to have tough skin to be in the business.

Even, as I said, he doesn’t mean to hurt your feelings, not everyone or pretty much anyone will try and let you off nicely, or they’ll try and be like, “Sorry for your feelings.” No, they don’t care. It’s not really about your feelings; it’s about what you can bring to the table and so I like that about Charlie.

Q: What would you say to someone who is looking for a summer intensive program but thought maybe they didn’t have the time or the money to come to Maggie Flanigan Studio?

Well, the first part that kind of struck me was, “Oh, I don’t need more training.” That’s never the case at all. I learned that in my freshman year of college. I’m going on my junior year and one of the things that one of my professors loved the most that I said, I realize even this just in first-year students throughout these four years, I’m not going to be entirely ready to go out and get job after job after the appointment. It’s not going to work like that. Acting is far more complex to understand than to get on four years in college or a six-week program. It all builds up.

Even when you get in the roles, you’re still learning something; you’re still learning from somewhere so there’s never a point when you really should stop trying to learn. As for the money and the time, the money part is the one I resonate with most, coming from mainly living with just my mother. The payment was something that I’m always frugal, so spending a large amount of money is still hard for me, but it’s what I want to do. If you can afford it, I suggest you do it. If you can’t, save up or look for another reasonably priced program that you can do.

As for the time, if you can’t devote time to it, then I would say don’t do it at all. I haven’t missed a class because that’s just what’s expected. You have to be punctual. On time is early. The right time to be on time is early. On time is late and late is fired. That’s what my professors have driven into me. Of course, we know things happen, but if things happen even if more than once, then that’s already kind of a problem.

students in the summer program at Maggie Flanigan Studio sitting class

Summer Acting Program – Maggie Flanigan Studio – Call (917) 794-3878

Summer Acting Program at Maggie Flanigan Studio

Learn more about the summer acting programs, including the Meisner Summer Intensive at the Maggie Flanigan Studio by visiting the studio website or by calling (917) 794-3878 to get more information.

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