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Austin Kairis: Six Week Summer Acting Program

The Meisner Summer Intensive at the Maggie Flanigan Studio allows actors to experience the first part of the professional actor training program as initially conceived by Sanford Meisner. In this section of the interview at the studio, Austin Kairis talks about starting the six-week summer acting program.

Six-Week Summer Acting Program - Maggie Flanigan Studio 01

Summer Acting Program – Maggie Flanigan Studio – Austin Kairis Interview Pt 1

Q: Austin, tell me about your background in acting before you started the Six-Week Summer Acting Program at Maggie Flanigan Studio.

A: My experience in acting before I came to Maggie Flanigan was pretty much just high school, president of the drama club, things like that. It wasn’t anything super challenging, and it was just fun. It was always something I loved. When I was 12, I was the lead in a college production. That was my lead to things. My family doesn’t know anything about acting, so we had no idea how to get into the business, so I was doing like a community–


"I don't want to be just an actor; I want to be an artist. This training is making me more attuned to who I am as a person and what kind of artist I want to be."

Austin KairisStudent, Summer Acting Program

My parents didn’t even want me to be in it necessarily, but they knew that I liked to do it. They found a community college that I auditioned for. I was the lead in this community college play. That just trickled into high school and things like that. Then we found out that you should get an agent or something like that in Chicago, so I got one, but that took a little bit different route with modeling and stuff. I had a one-liner on Chicago Fire and a one-liner in a movie that was shot in Chicago. I didn’t have any technique at all. It was pretty much just luck, maybe raw talent, and only my charisma.

Q: What were you doing before you came to the studio? Were you studying anywhere else in New York, were you taking classes, auditioning?

A: I was not auditioning at all in New York, but I did take a few classes at Susan Batson Studio. I did like it, but I didn’t have any foundation to use. Also, I’m not 100% sure I love the Strasberg technique. I want to learn more about it may be. I do like Meisner a lot. I studied at UCB. I love comedy. I feel like there was a part of me which I still love comedy and it hits hard. I have a lot of respect for it, but there was part of me that thought I wasn’t severe enough to do dramatic work.

After talking to some friends, I heard Maggie Flanigan come up over and over and over again. I’ve always known when I studied on Stella Adler, Meisner, Strasberg; I always knew that Meisner was something that I wanted to do. I thought I had a vivid imagination and I feel like this is the one that takes advantage of that. That’s how I knew I wanted to do this program.

Q: What do you think it meant to train as an actor before you started the six-week Summer Intensive?

A: Honestly, I’m not even entirely sure I had an opinion on what it meant to be a trained actor. Charlie has also said it before; actors are the least respected art form because anyone can do it. Anyone can do it. That doesn’t mean you’re doing it well or doing it with a purpose, intention, emotion. As you see, you can watch a great Netflix series. The stars are there; they’re acting, they’re saying their lines to each other.

I don’t know. I feel like this training is making me more attuned to who I am as a person and what kind of artist I want to be. I don’t want to be just an actor; I want to be an artist. I am an artist. Through that artistry, I decided to act, and that’s how I do it. Before, I didn’t have too much of an idea of training. Now I realized how important training is.

Summer Acting Program - The Meisner Summer Intensive Begins

Summer Acting Program – The Meisner Summer Intensive Begins

Q: What do you think it means to train now as an actor?

A: What do I think it means now to train as an actor? I think it means to have a real severe, dedicated disciplined passion for acting. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you’re not committed to putting in the work and the discipline, you might get far, I don’t know, but you’re not going to be fulfilled in at least the way that I’m learning to be authentically happy doing my art, if that makes sense.

Q: What happened during the six-week Summer Intensive specifically that changed your perspective on acting and training?

A: A lot of failures, honestly. A lot of falling but having the gumption and the bravery to keep coming back because it’s something I do care about, and then finding ways to look at a failure as an opportunity to learn and succeed in something else. Just the idea that the community that we built here and how vulnerable you can be and intimate. That’s really what I fell in love with the studio. It’s just such a high culture to be a part of. It’s so welcoming to be as free and expressive and imaginative as possible. That’s the mark that made me happy to be here.

I love the studio. I love the people. I like what we’re learning. It’s not always easy. It’s most of the time not easy at all, but I’m not here to be patted on the back, I’m here to learn how to be what I’m destined to be.

Six-Week Summer Acting Program - Maggie Flanigan Studio 01

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

Q: What did you learn about yourself during the Summer Intensive that was a surprise or that changed you?

A: I learned way too much about myself. I learned that I’m such a people pleaser. I learned that I have a thematic cord of unrequited love. I just learned that– I learned– I could talk about this forever, but I learned a lot about myself. What has meaning to me, what it means for me to be an artist, what it means for me to be a passionate person, to have discipline. Yes, I just learned a lot about the inner workings of how my emotions run within myself, and how my imagination works, and just how I maneuver with people outside of acting like how I interact with my family, how I communicate with people on the street.

It’s just opened my eyes to– I’m not 100% there yet, but to knowing more and more of who my authentic self is when you cut out all the societal or normalized perceptions that we have of ourselves or that we think that others have of us.

Q: Two part question, when you started the Summer Intensive, was it your intention to do the six weeks and not go into the two-year program?

A: Yes.

Q: What made you after the six-week Summer Acting Program, make the big commitment to take the leap and join the two-year program?

A: Yes, I only thought I was going to be in the six-week program. Just because I was testing the waters, I’m not going to lie. It’s a big financial commitment, and it’s a big time commitment. I have a lot of other commercial and time commitments, but it’s something that I care about. It’s the one thing I care most about is being an actor. I found a way to make it happen for me to join the first year.

What really made me commit to that decision was just saying how much I did grow in only six weeks and then having the confidence in myself to know that I’m able to take on this task and to keep learning and growing, and even though it might not be at the pace as everyone else, that’s something that I also loved and learned about Maggie. Inherently, it’s a competitive environment because it’s school. You’re not trying to compare yourself to others, you’re supportive, at least at the studio. Supportive of one another, and you work and learn from each other because you’re partnered, and you get so much from the other people.

I think that the community that I built over the summer made me. Even if I didn’t know they’d be going into the first year, I knew I could build that same community here because that’s just the environment that it cultivates for artists.

Charlie Sandlan teaching in the six-week summer acting program about how concentration is the essential building block that actors need and learn with the Meisner technique

Six-Week Summer Acting Program in New York at Maggie Flanigan Studio with Charlie Sandlan

Learn More About the Six-Week Summer Acting Program

Actors who are interested in the Meisner Summer Intensive can visit the studio website ( to learn more about the summer acting programs. Admission to the studio is based on an interview with the head of acting for the studio, Charlie Sandlan. Interested actors should begin the process by completing the online studio application.

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