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Why I Chose the Two Year Acting Program at Maggie Flanigan Studio – Stephen Martinez

In this student interview, Stephen discusses the Meisner technique and the two-year acting program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio. The Two Year program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio is founded on the teachings of Sanford Meisner.

What did you think it meant to be an artist before training at Maggie Flanigan Studio?

The actual definition of being an artist is always the same. Being creative and how you approach certain things but what separates it different from coming to Maggie is the meaning you put behind the word. Being able to make choices and stick to them and create the behavior behind it. Being an artist is letting yourself explore and pursue whatever you feel inside, as long as it’s truthful to yourself. Really to me is amazing. As an artist, I couldn’t see it any other way.

What has the Meisner technique done for you and what have you learned about it the art of acting?

The Meisner Technique is always amazing because it’s the ability to do something in imaginary circumstances. It’s not about just having an inner life but channeling that life and pushing yourself to your limits and being okay with making new choices. The Meisner Tech in itself is amazing to help me grow as an actor.


"Shop around, look at other acting studios but Maggie Flanigan Studio is the only one that really puts the actor first."

Stephen MartinezStudent, Two Year Acting Program

How has Maggie Flanigan Studio changed your understanding about the actor as an artist?

There are many components to being an actor besides just creating inner life and allowing yourself to be free and fluid. At the Maggie Flanigan Studio, I have movement and voice and all these other classes that help me help the body to create that channel so that my inner life can process and I can come to life and create that behavior.

How would you describe Charlie’s approach to teaching the Meisner Technique?

Charlie is unbelievable in the sense where he’s firm and stable and will not take sh** from anybody. He also gives you that space you need to make choices and come to life. He gets upset if you don’t put in the work. You’ll fall flat on your face. I’ve fallen flat on my face multiple times. But as long as I’m pushing myself and trying, he doesn’t get upset. It’s the people who are lazy that get to him. You can see that passion he creates inside and gives to us. Charlie talks about having a bar. We need to consistently work to reach this bar because he’s never going to lower this bar, his standards, to make it easy for us to reach.

For me, it’s a challenge. Charlie himself is the only type of coach I would ever want in my corner, to help push me and make me a better actor.

How does Maggie Flanigan Studio compare to your other places you may have studied?

It doesn’t. That in itself it doesn’t. I get waves of chills and energy when I think of this place. It’s family oriented compared to other studios I went to train with Meisner Technique itself. It’s like a machine, pushing out actors. There are individual studios you go to where some actors never even meet other actors. That to me is like, what? I want to know everyone I’m here with and train with these people because we’re creating a brand and pushing ourselves.

When I compare to other schools, I don’t. Maggie itself sets the bar, and you feel warm, and you feel like everyone knows your name. Oh, my God. In the first week, everyone knew my name. Anyone working in the front office, the teachers. I hadn’t even met some of these teachers, and they knew my name. I was just like, “Holy cow.” It creates such a warm environment, and it allows the actor to feel comfortable to pursue what they want to achieve.

How has the small nurturing environment helped you get through the first year of actor training?

We push ourselves. We don’t take sh** from ourselves. I’m sorry. There isn’t a time If I feel down, there are 20 other actors who, in this process, get to know me in a way that I didn’t even know myself. They help bring you back up when you feel down. There’s such an emotional connection that you build with these people that I know these are long-lasting friendships and artists that I’m going to work with in the future. I wouldn’t have it any other way because they’re my support system for this process.

There are a few students that you started here with that are no longer at the studio. What does that say about the studio and the passion and dedication that it requires being an actor?

In my life, I feel that there are all these borders and walls and stuff that are in front of you that are not meant to keep you out. It’s meant to keep everyone else out who’s not determined and willing to keep pushing yourself. Because it is tough, mentally, physically draining but there is a light at the other end. I hope that if Meisner is not for you, then Meisner is not for you.

If you are not willing to push yourselves I say, then this isn’t the program for you. This acting program it is going to test you in many aspects. If you’re not ready to give your all to becoming an actor then now is not the right time. That’s fine; you can find your approach. For me, I hit wall after wall where I get emotional, and I feel like, if you don’t want to quit, 10, 20 times, at some point that’s not normal.

I’ve wanted to quit before, but it’s the pure dedication that I have just to keep going forward without knowing what’s on the other end and getting to better understand myself. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you, but I believe that you just got to keep going if you want it.

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Stephen Martinez – Two Year Acting Program – Maggie Flanigan (917) 794-3878

How do you feel that the professional acting training program made a difference in your work in the acting class?

You can physically see the difference in class when you’re watching your classmates participate and do the activities and rehearsals [coughs]. Excuse me. [coughs] You can physically see the difference in actors who are involved in the full program. That’s because there’s such a fluidity within the actors when you take movement, voice, and speech, and able to relax your body and take that emotion and let it hit you and affect you rather than be defensive and push back.

That alone has helped me become an overall rounded student here at Maggie Flanigan Studio. Including, theater history is another great class because I’ve had some background in theater history, but not much. That class alone has helped pushed me. The nutrition class has helped me to have a better diet so I can feel alive in my body. The anatomy class is great, different types of workouts you can do. Every class here has some aspect that helps build you, a component that makes you a better actor.

What would you say to someone who has a lot of excuses for not committing to professional training?

That’s the number one enemy you have in yourself which is doubt. That kills dreams; doubt kills dreams. If you know, this is something you want to do, but you doubt yourself, you can’. You just have to commit. You have to push yourself. You have to apply yourself. Here at Maggie, they’re so open for you to come in, for you to watch a class, for you to speak to some of the other actors here.

That’s what made me want to come to the studio, all on its own. I’ve met with some other actors on-set who took other programs and my God. One story I heard was about a woman who, her teacher made them exercise and run around to make them physically exhausted, so then they can start their activity, they’ll then do their scene. I’m just like, what? That makes no sense. Voice movement allows you to relax, to come into your body so you can push yourself. It is a big difference coming here to Maggie. I think you need to push past the doubt you have inside you and come here or anywhere you feel necessary. For me, this is where home is, and they’re just so welcoming here. You can put that doubt to rest.

How is Charlie different from all the other acting teachers and acting coaches that you have trained with previously?

Charlie is a wizard. He picks up on behavior, left to right. Whether you have it or you don’t. At the end of it, you can be like, “I had behavior. I had behavior.” But he’ll be like, “No.” Then, everyone, all your fellow students they’d be like, “Can you see that?” We’re all like, “Yes, we actually could.” You can tell the difference. With Charlie, he’s someone that knows the behavior, and he will pick and get to the bottom to find out where you — if you couldn’t create the action, he’ll nitpick and get down to why you couldn’t create that behavior. What in your crafting was off? That didn’t allow you to come to life and then, you work on it for the next time. It sets it apart from other acting coaches.

You’re finishing up your first year. Have you seen a change in the way you work?

Oh, my God. There’s such a change. It’s so different from other institutes and studios I went to for training. Charlie talks about when you first get in, by the end of the year you’ll be able to step off a curb like that emotionally. Come to life, and I didn’t believe it until now where I can take anything personally, and I can get upset. I can be sad. I can be happy and joyful. It’s such a big difference, and I feel open. I can’t wait for next year. I’m upset we have a break in the summer.

Are you excited for the second year?

The second year is going to be, where? The first year is all about the foundation. About creating that foundation where he can start to build you as a better actor. Next year is all about characters and planting meanings and all that stuff. I can’t wait and all the other classes you guys offer like code readings and script analysis.[ I want to start today. [laughs]

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Two Year Acting Program – Professional Actor Training – Maggie Flanigan Studio

What would you say to someone who is deciding between Maggie Flanigan Studio and maybe another acting studio?

For me, when you’re making that decision, you need to look at everything. It’s very reasonable or responsible for doing. What made me choose Maggie is the welcoming that I got when I got here and the ability to look at some of the classes, observe them and you feel at home. I went to another institute, another studio. I had two interviews that day, for Maggie and the other one and I went to that one first. When I went there because I had taken a summer session there and then, I went there, at first, he was very friendly, “Come in. Come in.”

When I was talking to him, I was like, “It’s great. I’m excited.” I tried to ask him, “Well, who’s my acting coach?” Who am I going to tell? He told me a name. I was like, “Okay, well, what has she done?” He was like, this is who she is. You’ll be okay. I was like, “Well, I’m going to spend a lot of money here. I want to get to know who I’m working with. Who’s going to be training me?” And then, when I started asking more questions about flexibility for scheduling, he was like, “I can tell you’re not serious about training, about becoming an actor.”

My heart dropped, and I was like, “Excuse me?” I got really upset. I couldn’t believe that he would say something like that to a fellow student. Mind you, in our meeting; he took another phone call with someone else who was like, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” He was like, “Well, you’re not serious about being an actor, goodbye.” And then hung up on them. Because I wasn’t ready to just give a check, he kicked me out, and I was so mad. When I came here right after, for this meeting and I was an hour early. I knew I was an hour early, but I pretended I didn’t know. That way I can sit here.

I was an hour early, the studio wasn’t even open, and they were like, “Just come in, have a sit. Charlie will be with you in a moment.” Charlie met with me early. I sat down. I felt so connected with him. I broke down and cried because I just felt defeated from all these other training I tried to do. It just felt so welcoming that I just knew this was home for me. Shop around, look around other studios but Maggie Flanigan Studio is the only studio that really puts the actor first. Even in financial troubles. This is the place and I say that from the bottom of my heart.

Schedule an Interview Today for the Two Year Acting Program

Actors who are serious about professional actor training should consider the two year acting program and acting conservatory at the Maggie Flanigan Studio. Applicants to the studio programs are required to meet with Charlie Sandlan, the Executive Director and Head of Acting, prior to acceptance into the program. For more information call the studio front office at (917) 794-3878. To begin the application process interested actors should begin here: Apply to the Two Year Acting Program.

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