Our two-year professional training is for both serious actors and those who want to become better authentic listeners. The Meisner technique is ‘listening based” so you will learn the very vital skill of going moment to unanticipated moment, without an agenda. This is the centerpiece of the technique. Consider how present you must be if you are never anticipating, you’re never thinking ahead. When you hear exactly what is going on in your partner a pure impulsive connection happens, and your instinctual response emerges. This is your authenticity. The repetition game is often misused but the genesis of the game was to reach this level of “unthoughtful” listening based connection.
Mr. Meisner often said; “what you do on stage doesn’t depend on you, it depends on the other fella.” You are dependent on your partner, and they are dependent on you, both listening for only the next moment without need. This may be the only place you are encouraged to act before you think.
The Meisner technique is not a drop-in/ drop-out type of class. The technique is cumulative, so a person hoping to join in month three, not having arrived at that point organically, would be so confused by what’s happening in class, they’d be uncomfortable. A person can join a class that’s started three months ago, but not before they do the work to get caught up, which is completely up to their time constraints. So the optimal way to approach this is to start at the beginning and continue through the nine months and fully benefit from the process as Mr. Meisner built it.
The Meisner Technique
Meisner technique is a complete course of study that produces instinctual and responsive actors. Generalities give way to specifics; understanding evolves into trust in your partner; and instincts guide you toward clearer communications. It has become known around the world for teaching actors to be truthful in the “reality of doing the work.”
“One can use standard principles and textbooks in educating people for law, medicine, architecture, chemistry or almost any other profession, but not for the theater.” – Sanford Meisner
At the Westlake Acting Studio, Markus Flanagan teaches the technique the way he learned it from Mr. Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse. Accordingly the class follows the same two-year format.
- First year focuses on the fundamental training of the actor through extensive improvisational exercises – namely “repetition” in which the actor’s attention is focused upon his or her partner’s behavior. Students will learn to stay focused and learn to allow themselves to behave truthfully in this imaginary circumstance. After eight months a more honest actor emerges with a unique instrument honed to behave ‘truthfully’ in the theatrical sense.
- Second year uses the basis of listening and answering, living truthfully, and doing things with reality learned in the first year and adds to it character building elements that fill out the use of the first year with the layers that lead to full understanding of the character you wish to portray.