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Meisner Training Classes: Elevating the Art of Acting


Have you ever wondered what truly sets apart a compelling performance from an ordinary one? Meisner training classes might just hold that secret. 

Deeply rooted in emotional fluidity and organic experience, these Meisner technique-focused classes don’t just teach the craft of acting—they guide actors to get out of their heads and dive deep into their hearts, transforming them into spontaneous behavior creators. 

Ready to uncover the intricacies of the Meisner technique and explore classes at Maggie Flanigan Studio? Read further to find out why the Meisner Technique is one of the greatest ways to train a professional actor.

Key Takeaways

  • The Meisner Technique, developed by Sanford Meisner, trains the actor how to emotionally prepare off-stage or off-camera. This acting method helps the actor understand the importance of emotional fluidity, as well as the creative freedom that comes from harnessing your ability to daydream and fantasize about your process.
  • Rooted in Sandford Meisner’s methodical step-by-step approach, Maggie Flanigan Studio students learn the essential fundamentals of acting. This includes getting out of your head, onto your spontaneous impulses, with your attention on the other person or what you are doing. MFS students learn how to craft, how to emotionally prepare, and how to be fully present in the moment with active, empathic listening.
  • Meisner believed true acting is anchored in authentic human interactions, and the ability to do truthfully under imaginary circumstances. Foundational technique is essential in any art form, and the art of acting is no different. Real artistic growth is achieved through rigorous training, surrounding yourself in a supportive community, and a commitment to a disciplined work ethic. 

Discovering the Meisner Technique: Authenticity in Acting

A Maggie Flanigan Studio student taking Meisner Training classes

The search for an artistic process has led thousands of actors to the Meisner Technique. The ability to listen, supported by a vulnerable and empathic instrument is a defining characteristic of the Meisner-trained actor. Let’s examine some core principles of this actor training method.

Overview of the Meisner Technique

When considering the craft of acting, one cannot overlook the profound impact of the Meisner technique on the art form. Developed by the legendary Sanford Meisner, this approach to acting isn’t just another method. It’s a profound exploration into the tools needed to create organic, vivid, fully realized human behavior in the imaginary world.

At its core, the Meisner Technique aims to strip actors of their preconceived notions, not only about acting but about themselves. I like to think of Meisner’s technique as a chisel that chips away at the inhibitions and barriers that we have constructed throughout life. The walls that keep us safe, and protected, but also withheld and limited. 

Unlike other acting classes, Meisner training classes aren’t just about scene study or mastering a script. This is about developing the ability to break down a piece of material and tap into the very essence of the character. As a result, actors develop the range and dimension to truly illuminate the human condition.

Why actors globally pursue Meisner training

This technique, taught with dedication and focus at Maggie Flanigan Studio under the guidance of Master Teachers like Charlie Sandlan, emphasizes a step-by-step approach. 

Over a two-year program, students are trained in a progression of exercises that build a solid artistic foundation. This enables them to approach scene work, character development, and even auditions with depth and truthfulness.

For serious actors looking to truly master their craft, understanding the Meisner approach is a fantastic way to begin. 

Acting is not about memorizing lines and practicing how you want to say them. It’s about understanding and harnessing the truth of a moment, the truth of the character, and having the ability to respond in every moment from a spontaneous, and deeply personal place.

Acting, after all, isn’t just about portraying someone else’s life. Actors are acrobats of the human heart. At its best, acting is a transformational art form. 

The best acting reveals something about the human experience. And for those eager to make a mark in the worlds of film, television, or theater, Meisner training classes provide the tools, techniques, and foundation to do just that.

The Journey of an Actor at Maggie Flanigan Studio

At Maggie Flanigan Studio, actors embark on a transformative journey, honing their craft through the world-renowned Meisner Technique. Sanford Meisner’s legacy, combined with the studio’s commitment to excellence, ensures that every acting class remains true to the principles and integrity of the Meisner approach. 

This methodology, taught by a master teacher, is rooted in a step-by-step process that will ultimately turn them into seriously well-trained actors. Acting is not about rehearsing lines. It’s about delving deep into the essence of the character and illuminating what the screenwriter or playwright has put on the page.

Emotional preparation stands as a core fundamental, and a key piece of the first year of Meisner training.. Classes meet twice a week for three hours, immersing students in a rhythm of consistent and progressive learning. This guarantees they get the most out of their time and money while at the studio. 

Maggie Flanigan Studio: A Home for Aspiring Actors in NYC

Movement classes at the Maggie Flanigan Studio.

Nestled within New York City’s dynamic Chelsea neighborhood, the Maggie Flanigan Studio stands as the gold standard of professional actor training. 

With a curriculum that is firmly rooted in the Meisner acting technique, and a conservatory approach to training, our team of master teachers are committed to preserving Sandy’s legacy. We are here to provide a safe and nurturing classroom environment while also demanding the highest artistic standards.

Being a premier acting school, we offer a unique blend of acting classes and workshops tailored for those dedicated to their craft and who have a desire to unlock their fullest artistic potential. 

Guided by a teaching philosophy that promotes taking risks, our studio provides an environment where artists can explore, stumble, and rise, all without the paralyzing fear of criticism and failure. 

Here failure is encouraged. It is the foundation upon which all of your success will be built.

Movement classes: The essence of fluid performance

Acting is as much a physical endeavor as it is emotional. The Maggie Flanigan Studio places a great emphasis on movement, focusing on helping actors overcome their physical and emotional inhibitions. 

The Williamson Technique, a cornerstone of our movement curriculum, challenges actors to identify bodily stress points and to shed them. By doing so, actors can achieve a level of expressiveness that truly resonates with the character. 

Here, human beings interact, collaborate, and most importantly, connect on a deeply personal level.

Voice classes: Harnessing the power within

Voice, an actor’s most intimate and potent tool of expression, is meticulously shaped and liberated at the Maggie Flanigan Studio. Rooted in the Kristin Linklater approach to freeing the natural voice, these classes help students understand the intricate link between voice and emotion. 

By releasing tension and opening up the body, actors can channel their full expression more freely, allowing for profound, impactful performances.

Theater history: A journey through time

The studio’s theater history class is an exploration through the annals of theatrical tradition. 

Actors delve into works from theatrical legends such as Shakespeare and Sophocles, to contemporary icons like Tennessee Williams and Adrienne Kennedy. Engaging discussions revolve around the evolution of theater. This sheds light on how past techniques and values influence modern storytelling.

Script analysis: Dissecting the playwright’s vision

The ability to analyze a script is a quintessential skill for any actor. Here at the Maggie Flanigan Studio, actors are trained to dissect both contemporary and classic scripts. 

They learn to discern the intricacies of a scene and the nuances of character. This training ensures they can confidently interpret a playwright’s vision, whether for film, TV, or the stage.

On-camera acting: Merging technique with technology

Despite the different demands of theater and film, the essence of acting remains consistent across both mediums. 

The studio’s on-camera acting classes equip actors with the skills to seamlessly transition from stage to screen. Through rigorous training and constructive feedback, students learn to adapt their techniques, ensuring they can create vivid behavior in any medium.

Combat for stage and film: Mastering theatrical action

In a specialized combat acting class dedicated to the art of action acting, students learn from seasoned fight choreographers over ten immersive sessions. 

In this program, actors master techniques ranging from hand-to-hand combat to intricate swordplay, all while emphasizing utmost safety. As the course concludes, participants showcase their skills in choreographed fight sequences captured on camera. 

Meisner intensive: A summer of transformation

For those seeking an intense immersion into the Meisner technique, the studio offers a six-week Meisner Intensive. 

This course condenses a significant portion of the first year of Meisner training into six weeks. The summer acting intensive provides the first 18 classes of first-year work. Class meets for three hours, three days a week, offering students an opportunity to dive deep into the core principles of the Meisner acting technique. 

The program is intense, while also maintaining the studio’s high standards. This ensures that even in a brief period, students experience substantial growth as actors, coming away with a deeper appreciation for the art of acting.

Cold reading: Mastering the art of the first impression

For any accomplished actor, cold reading is invaluable, especially when auditioning. The cold reading class, which is specially curated for second-year students, places emphasis on the ability to read a piece of material, make quick, specific choices, and then be able to enter a room and audition with clarity. 

Cold reading is an incredibly important skill that all professional actors will confront. Breaking down a script in a short period of time and being able to create the behavior needed is an invaluable skill.

Professional actor training program (PATP): The complete conservatory approach to pursuing a serious acting career

The PATP, Maggie Flanigan Studio’s crown jewel, is an immersive two-year conservatory experience. 

Encompassing everything from the Meisner Technique to voice and movement training, theater history, script analysis, cold reading, and combat, the PATP provides a complete training progression. PATP students can expect to be fully trained, possessing the ability to compete at the highest level of the art form.

At the beginning of the first year, an actor’s journey begins with first-year Meisner and an introduction to the core fundamentals of acting—this is a unique technique that hones the actor’s ability to be out of their heads, fully present, and onto their spontaneous impulses.

As the Meisner Technique progresses, actors will learn how to craft with the independent activity.. These activities are designed to challenge and push students beyond their comfort zones, building a solid foundation and fostering continuous growth. The result? An actor with the capacity to truly illuminate the human heart.

Film and TV: Adapting to the modern screen

In today’s screen-dominated era, the Film & TV class at the studio stands crucial. Tailored to address the distinct challenges of on-camera acting, this class equips actors with essential industry know-how, from acing auditions to navigating professional sets with utmost confidence.

Becoming a Great Actor: Beyond Technique

A student taking stage combat classes at Maggie Flanigan Studio.

Sanford Meisner, the mastermind behind the Meisner Technique, believed that great acting isn’t just about mastering a set of skills. Instead, great acting is deeply rooted in authentic human connection. 

At the core of the Meisner acting technique is the belief that real growth as an actor occurs when one engages genuinely with the world, with other actors, and, most importantly, with human beings. The imaginary circumstances, scene work, and emotional preparation taught in acting classes are undeniably vital. Still, they merely lay the foundation upon which an actor builds their craft.

Continuous learning and practice are non-negotiable in the journey to becoming a great actor. An actor’s education doesn’t end after a nine-month program or even after the second year. Since the acting world is ever-evolving, staying updated is crucial. Beyond classes and exercises, an actor who is committed needs to be actively involved in the acting community in order to grow. 

Any serious artist masters their instrument. For the actor, that must be the totality of you. An actor needs a vivid imagination, a body pliable enough to handle and process rich emotion, and a resonant voice and clear diction.

Stella Adler, a core member of the legendary Group Theater and one of the great acting teachers of the 20th century said many times that “An actor does not get up in the morning and read the Wall Street Journal. An actor gets up in the morning and reads a poem.” It is this belief in living a creative life that lies at the core of the Maggie Flanigan Studio philosophy. 

An artist’s life is challenging and also immensely rewarding. Serious NYC acting programs should instill in their students the importance of establishing creative habits.


The Meisner technique, developed by  Sandy Meisner, stands out as a unique and transformative method in the training of actors. It instills in them a process, a way of working that will allow them to create vivid, organic, fully realized human behavior consistently.

The Maggie Flanigan Studio in New York City champions this technique. Providing a supportive and nurturing environment under the guidance of Artistic Director & Master Teacher Charlie Sandlan, actors undergo rigorous training. Besides that, they also learn the meaning of professionalism, the importance of collaboration, and the need to be relentless in the pursuit of self-discipline.

Why Choose the Maggie Flanigan Studio?

Our studio, under the guidance of Artistic Director and Master Teacher Charlie Sandlan, offers an environment that fosters creativity and ensures that students not only learn the technical aspects of acting but also develop a genuine love for it.

What sets the Maggie Flanigan Studio apart from other schools is its unwavering commitment to teaching the Meisner technique in its purest form. The studio is deeply rooted in Sanford Meisner’s vision, providing classes that prioritize authenticity, spontaneity, and personal connection. 

Here, every class is designed to work out the actor’s soul, providing the space and freedom to bring their fullest self into their art.

Choosing Maggie Flanigan Studio means embracing a legacy of excellence, supported by two decades of developing the reputation as the best training program in the United States. Ready to embark on a transformative acting journey with us? Connect with us today and propel your acting career to the next level!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does Meisner training take? 

Meisner training, when taught correctly, takes two years to teach. During this time, students learn how to craft in a simple, specific, and personal way, as well as get out of their heads and onto their spontaneous impulses. The bedrock of acting is listening, and a Meisner-trained actor has the capacity to be fully present, in the moment, responding from a place of empathy and vulnerability.

What is the Meisner exercise? 

The Meisner exercise, also referred to as the “repetition exercise,” is foundational to the Meisner Technique. It involves two actors repeating responsively a simple comment back and forth to each other. This immediately gets the actor out of their head, forces them to be present, and concentrated on listening to what is being said to them. The best actors are in the moment, not in their heads, and this training makes that something second nature.

What is an example of a Meisner activity? 

An example of a Meisner activity is the “independent activity.”The independent activity teaches the actor how to truthfully do under an imaginary circumstance. rafting is also an essential fundamental, and the independent activity trains the actor to craft in a simple, specific, and personal way. Acting is the ability to do truthfully under an imaginary circumstance, and this core part of the first-year work makes that second nature.

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