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Wrestling with Triggers and Impulses

The Meisner Summer Intensive at the Maggie Flanigan Studio provides a professional six-week actor training program. In this interview, Jason Cianciulli talks about deciding to take the summer intensive after working professionally as a dancer.

Jason Cianciulli at the studio talking about meisner technique training

Meisner Summer Intensive – Jason Cianciulli Interview – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Meisner Summer Intensive: Jason Cianciulli

Logan: You are currently in your second year at Maggie Flanigan Studio, but you took the summer intensive before starting the two-year program?

Jason: Yes, I did.

Q: Tell me about where you were in life artistically before you chose to do the summer intensive?

A: I worked for about six or seven years as a dancer and worked in an idea of dance theater, but I hadn’t had any formal training. I was being asked to do things that were theatrical but I didn’t have a lot of groundwork for approaching these things. It was 2020, during the pandemic in the summer, and it was like fate, perfect timing, for me to start a program. There was a lot of free time, and I just had a lot of space to try something. That’s where Maggie Flanigan came in. That’s when I started the summer intensive.


Before I started this training, the work that I was doing was superficial. I was operating on the outer layer. The work I am doing now is more process-based.

Jason CianciulliTheatrical Dancer

Q: Did you do the summer intensive online then?

A: I did. I did it online. It was good. It was hard, and I don’t have a comparison. I don’t have anything to compare to an in-person idea, but it was rewarding. It was challenging, but I think that would have happened either way.

Q: You are now in-person training. Do you feel like the online training set you up nicely for in-person?

A: Yes. I did all first-year online and then probably four months of second-year online. Online, you have to ground yourself in imaginary circumstances differently. When you come in person, the reality is a little more tangible to you. So, yes, I think the summer intensive gave me a lot of space. It was not that it made things easier, but it gave me a lot of room to deepen the concepts that were being introduced or practiced.

Q: Great. What changed in terms of your ideas of what it means to be an actor and to train as an actor during the six weeks in that summer intensive?

A: Well, my mentality became a lot less goal-oriented, product-driven. I think the shift was in the way that I was being taught to research and how I was being pushed to wrestle with, yes, emotional life or triggers or impulses. Before having any training, the work that I was doing was very much superficial. I was operating very much on the outer layer. I think it worked more in terms of indicating. Then after being in the program, I feel that it’s way more process-based rather than product.

banner for the two year program

Q: Out of all those things you just mentioned, or maybe it’s a thing you haven’t mentioned yet, did anything stand out in the six weeks of the summer intensive that surprised you the most about what it means to work as an actor?

A: Yes, of course. I think the program or the technique made me wrestle with what it means to work personally and what it means to find things that you care about or things that you can tether yourself to emotionally. It just forced me to deepen my understanding of my own life. Before training, I felt something that existed outside of me, and all the perspectives turned back onto me through the technique. That character work or emotional life wasn’t an exterior thing, but it was like sourcing it inside yourself. That was the challenge. That was a crack that has been slowly chipping away.

Jason Cianciulli and theatrical dance

Meisner Summer Intensive New York NY – Online Meisner Acting Program – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Q: As a movement artist, do you feel that the internal discovery and feeling of things deeply and more personally helped you in your movement work?

A: Yes. I think a lot of movement ideas come from an idea or emotion or an idea of what is the boundary between emotion and movement. How do you slip between abstracted spaces and spaces that are a bit more tangible or grounded in behavior? I think that the work that I was doing at Maggie Flanigan deepened. There is more of an emotional connection.

What I am learning at the studio, besides the technique, is that it’s a work ethic and attention to detail and nuance. I think this was significant in how the Meisner Technique transfers to my dance training.

Q: Could you speak a bit about how you feel about Charlie as your teacher?

A: Yes, I think I learned most from Charlie has been not to take it personally focus on the work. I don’t know, because of his eye or how he’s looking at you in class or the way he is critiquing you, it only has to do with your crafting and your art. But, on the other hand, sometimes things can get a little skewed, or it can feel like your art bleeds into your personal life, and I feel there is a noticeable distinction in how Charlie works.

Best Summer Acting Programs New York - Maggie Flanigan Studio - Call (917) 794-3878

Best Summer Acting Programs New York – Maggie Flanigan Studio – Call (917) 794-3878

Q: You feel like he’s not critiquing who you are as a human, but he is helping you grow as an artist, so there’s safety in training?

A: It’s easy to leave yourself out of it and focus on what you’re doing. I also think he can very specifically look at the work you’ve done in the past, and if you’re not maintaining a standard of work, he will let you know. Sometimes, it can feel a little jarring, which can feel personal, but it’s not.

Q: I’m curious about your journey finishing the summer intensive and then deciding to commit to the entire two-year conservatory program.

A: I decided probably a week into the program that I wanted to continue, just because I got in and did not know what was going on. I understood very clearly and quickly that I needed more time to train, practice, and figure out things in theater and acting. The transition from the summer intensive to the first year was significant. They are both quite similar, but the pace they move at is very different. Having that time introduced to the work made it easier to understand. It was still difficult to execute these things but easier to process what was happening.

Q: What would you say is the biggest takeaway from the studio?

A: I’ll come to work sometimes, and I’ll be very nervous. When I’ve prepped as much as I can, and when the standard of work has been at the levels that Charlie expects, there’s a certain edge that’s taken off. I can be maybe suddenly anxious about what’s happening, but there’s support behind me, knowing that I’ve done the work and done everything I can. I’m still figuring out how to do all this. I have a roadmap to continue, to keep training and practicing.

Meisner Summer Intensive

More About Meisner Training at Maggie Flanigan Studio

Actors interested in learning more about the Meisner Technique and training at the studio can visit the studio website ( to apply for acceptance into the studio. Students who have questions about the training can call (917) 794-3878.

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