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The Meisner Technique: how it works, why it works, who it's for...

 

When I ask people at the beginning of a class, "Why are you here?" there are three answers that most commonly feature:

1) I want to find a way to be more truthful in my acting
2) I need to get out of my head, I want to get free
3) I want to rediscover some of the fun of acting, why I became an actor in the first place

Consider some questions:- What if your performance couldn't be "wrong"? What if you could go into an audition knowing almost nothing about the character, but still feel equipped to bring powerful choices to the reading? What if you knew the secret of emotional preparation is not childhood trauma, but the activated imagination...? What if you were free of all anxiety about what you're "supposed to be doing"?

All these concerns, and a few more besides, are dynamically addressed by Meisner's simple but utterly powerful exercises. Actors become less self-restricted; less concerned about their own behaviour; more attuned to the events of the scene; more impulsive and intuitive in their acting. This takes work, of the kind all other artists take for granted. Dancers have their barre, Musicians their scales, and Actors, too, need to exercise at all times. In fact it takes a good deal of work to achieve simple, truthful behaviour, but it is this, of course, that we love in all truly great performances.

Peter Brook was asked what he was looking for when he was auditioning for his first company in Paris. He replied, "I want to work with actors who know how to open themselves up, and then communicate openly with other actors"

This is a common theme in all acting theory, but among the American inheritors of Stanislavsky's system, Sanford Meisner was alone in putting the relationship between actors at the root of his teaching practice. This is something too many actors forget, and too few directors ever properly understand - that acting is a collaborative art, and that we must learn first to Really Listen, before we worry about anything else.

Over the years, apart from establishing the Actors-Space Berlin, I have taught throughout Europe, and these visits are always exciting opportunities to offer actors another way of thinking about their work.

All the work we do has this at its heart - be authentic, be intuitive, be spontaneous.

Work hard, but look for the fun in your work. Trust your instincts, and work on your craft.

Exult in your successes. Fail in public.
Get up and go again!
Laugh, Cry, Rage.
Enjoy the challenge.
Be Human!
Connect!

 

Some of the internationally acclaimed coaches who can be found at the Actors-Space, either as regular tutors or as guest artists.  

karen cifarelli 

wolfgang wimmer 

jens roth               

annette goeres 

susan patrick 

Susanne Eggert

Athanasios Karanikolas

A short video trailer, celebrating Sanford Meisner's work, defining his style and his demands upon the actor - these amazingly astute and concise insights remain the basis for nearly everything we do and value in class... 

 

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