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Meisner Acting And The Art Of Listening

meisner acting classes in nycActing classes that involve the Meisner acting technique are meant to remove existing notions of human behavior that are ingrained from nature and nurture. To become an actor one must have a sensitivity and respect for what it is to be human. Cultural influences, inherited temperament traits can all be a hindrance if the character you are to portray has a completely different sense of these things. A great actor goes beyond merely putting on the shoes of another person. Rather they practice a discipline of imagination where they instill the same values of the character into their deepest selves and take on the natural emotional impulses and physical characteristics of the character.

Acting classes that are based on this technique have a deep respect for the human condition, be it noble, evil or more typically somewhere on the spectrum. The craft of acting is a term thrown around freely in many acting classes with little regard for the definition of the phrase. Above all, acting is a discipline and despite the creativity inherent in the practice, there is a need for a systematic approach to master the fundamentals. Sanford Meisner took a systematic approach developed by Stanislavski and adjusted it to be more accessible to American actors. If acting classes are part of an overall system, set up in progressive steps, that lead the actor further and further into mastering deeper and deeper skill sets, than it is likely utilizing some of Meisner’s principles.

Having mastered the fundamentals, a Meisner acting student is able to listen fully to other actors involved in scene study, exercises or during a play and respond freely while concentrating in such a way that the focus is on each present moment as the scene unfolds. The focus and impulse are based primarily on what the other actors do. The greatest actors will make this look extremely easy however, it involves a great deal of discipline and many many years of serious work.

As an art form, acting isn’t something that can be taught using the intellect alone but, needs to be experienced and mastered through the heart as well. While acting as a discipline requires sensitivity it also requires a deep determination and lots of grit to get through some of the more difficult aspects of learning and practicing the craft. In short, acting is very, very hard work. Putting in the discipline and hours is really the only way actors trained in the Meisner technique will have the freedom to respond naturally and yet, true to character when the time comes.

meisner acting and the two year acting programEvil, ironic humor, long suffering, deep rage, these are characteristics that are often in danger of becoming a caricature if they are overblown. Acting is far from being a simple craft however, simplicity is the cornerstone of great acting. That is why acting classes are necessary to study these nuances and hone the skill with other actors time and time again.

All actions an actor takes on must come from a place very close to the heart. Intellectual understanding of a story and the characters in it is paramount but, without an intense heart soul connection to the text the truth of the story will be lost. The core exercise of this type of training uses word repetition exercises. By bouncing the material back and forth countless times between actors they will eventually achieve a response that is natural, ingrained and truthful. These impulses must be imagined and taken in and stored so that they are immediately accessible as the text of the play moves along.

As expected, this is a difficult and challenging skill to master that requires years of rigorous training and discipline. The costs can be very high emotionally at times. But, any actor who has experienced living fully onstage as another, completely absorbed in every moment for the duration of a piece of work has found deep satisfaction in doing it well.

Learn more about Meisner acting. Stop by the Maggie Flanigan studio where you can find out all about the best Meisner acting classes in NYC.

Maggie Flanigan Studio
153 West 27th Street, Suite 803
New York, NY 10001
(917) 794-3878