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Meisner Intensive – An Ounce of Behavior in Meisner Acting Classes

meisner intensive - meisner summer intensive

Rooted in the work of master acting teacher Sanford Meisner, Meisner Intensive acting classes use a series of exercises that build upon each other progressively, until the most complex skills are mastered. A student that experiences Meisner acting classes will soon discover that they will never be done learning the craft of acting. Phrases such as improvisation, personal response, emotional memory, emotional preparation will take on new meaning for the student as they work through these exercises from simple repetitive phrase exercises to scene studies with complex texts.

meisner intensive

meisner intensive

In the beginning, Meisner acting classes may seem too simplistic, lacking real dialogue or “story” to work with. The goal of this work is to help the acting student not rely on the words of a script to communicate, but on other actors in the exercise, their own spontaneous emotional reactions to the exercise and responding behavior. Fine tuning this reliance on emotional reaction, on committing in the moment, to the action that is happening, and to creating a new reality in the moment is what professional Meisner acting classes are about.

Meisner was known for drilling the same question at actors again and again to push actors to have a “cause” or a reason to do, or feel anything as they moved forward in a piece, or during an exercise. Even listening or sleeping is thought of as an “action” and has a purpose when using the Meisner technique. Known to be a brilliant, yet tough task master, Meisner believed that “acting is doing,” even if the moment in a piece calls for silence. Another one of his famous sayings “an ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words” is telling. Dialogue will have no meaning, unless it is delivered by someone living a truthful life, with authentic emotions and behaviors.

The more immersed an actor can be the new reality that is being created, even if during a simple exercise, the more likely it is that they will be able to act in the moment. Acting classes nyc can teach you to take the sounds, feelings, emotions, the physical space, the emotions of others and incorporate it into a moment by moment performance, even if you are just participating in an exercise. This can eliminate bad acting habits, such as “pretending” rather than “being.” Getting out of your own way is the number one goal of Meisner acting classes. One aims to achieve complete self-forgetfulness, while at the same time developing complete “mindfulness” of the character and the new reality he or she is a part of creating. If this sounds difficult, then this training might be for you. Too many up and coming acting students believe acting is simply a matter of “becoming someone else” and reciting the lines as given, and doing it well. The Meisner acting technique will force you to work far more deeply than that. Yes, you essentially become someone else but, not a pre-determined someone else. Instead you become someone new,someone real, that changes as the work progresses in unrehearsed ways.

Using an entire set of imagined circumstances of a character’s memories, needs, obsessions, mistakes, etc. the character can just emerge and change as the story progresses, which is how Meisner works. In Meisner classes students move closer and closer to the emotional truth, the kind of authentic acting Meisner was helping actors get better at practicing. There is a behavioral aspect to this which involves theories about adaptation and communication, and an emotional aspect that stems from the Americanized discipline called Method acting. However, Meisner put his unique stamp on this discipline and ended up training some of the most legendary actors in theater and in film.


meisner summer intensive

In order to generate truthful behavior in a new imagined reality, which is what theater and film are about, an actor must focus on two things: the other actors they are playing with and moving forward in a committed way to the next moment in the scene. If they are open, and have achieved self forgetfulness, the impulses generated by fellow actors will feed this forward, moment-by-moment movement. The performance will have an edge, a sense of reality that is hard to create unless spontaneity is constantly at work. After all, that’s the way it is in life. We have no idea what will happen moment to moment, but we continue on, talking, sitting, meditating, eating a bite, having a thought, all with the idea that we are moving toward something big or small. Creating that onstage successfully is one of the more exhilarating experiences you can have as an actor and Meisner acting is the best way to achieve that.

The Maggie Flanigan Studio provides the highest quality Meisner Acting Classes and training in NYC for serious actors. To learn more about the Meisner Intensive training at the studio, you can visit this page: Meisner Summer Intensive or call the studio at (917) 794-3878.

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