Cold Reading

An actor’s ability to cold read is essential to establishing a professional career. Cold reading is simply the ability to take a script, and with very little time, pick that text up off the page and turn it into behavior. This is not easy. Most actors, when they audition, or are in rehearsal, have their noses buried into the script. They have this misconception that the words are what is most important. They worry about their lines, and merely refer to the other actors on stage. Well-trained actors know instinctively that the other person is where the life is.

Cold Reading is a 10-class course dedicated to developing the actor’s ability to take a script, and in very limited time be able to come into an audition room and create behavior. This is a skill that most actors do not work to develop. Very talented actors who cannot cold read well, will not work very often. This is a second year class, which gives our students the opportunity to apply what they are learning in acting class to cold reading. Professionally, actors will often audition with material they have prepared, only to be asked in the audition to take a look at another part and come back in. Or they show up to rehearsal or to set with 10 new pages of dialogue for the day’s work. And quite often, actors will not get material before hand due to the secretive nature of network and studio privacy, and will only get sides 10 to 20 minutes before their audition. This class teaches actors how to work under all of these circumstances.

The first few weeks will focus on the theater audition, and how actors deal with being paired with other actors in an audition setting. We then turn our attention to cold reading monologues. Taking a major chunk of text and turning it into spontaneous, vivid behavior in a short period of time is very challenging. Cold Reading will spend the last few weeks dealing with film & TV sides, and the challenges that come with working with a reader. The majority of professional auditions will require this skill. Often times a reader is just a casting director or their assistant reading lines while operating the camera. This class will teach our students how to use their craft in order to create compelling behavior no matter who they are working with.

Cold Reading is 10 classes over 10 weeks, and has only four students per class. Students will have thirty minutes to work on material and will then audition. Notes and discussion will follow with an opportunity to try again. The small nature of this class allows the student a tremendous opportunity to hone this skill.

Cold reading is a requirement for Business I and Business II.

Karen Chamberlain( Cold Reading: )

Karen Chamberlain holds an MFA in Acting from Rutgers University where she studied under Maggie Flanigan and William Esper. She was an Assistant Professor for The BFA Professional Actor Training Program at Mason Gross School of The Arts, Rutgers University, where she taught Voice and Acting and was the first On­Site Resident Director for The Rutgers Conservatory at Shakespeare’s Globe, London. Karen also taught first and second year Meisner Technique at The William Esper Studio for nine years. In addition to teaching at The Maggie Flanigan Studio, she currently teaches Acting at The Meisner Studio at NYU, Tisch School of The Arts. Other university credits include The University of The Arts in Philadelphia. Karen continues to act professionally when she has time. She is an ensemble member of The Collective­NY and has played numerous roles on the last three seasons of INSIDE AMY SCHUMER.


  • "As an actor, the core of what you have to rely on is your sense of truth and humanity. Not only did Maggie allow me to discover & embrace mine, she also taught me that As an actor, the core of what you have to rely on is your sense of truth and humanity ..."

    Narada Campbell

  • "Cold reading is a class that most directly correlates with booking work. Charlie teaches you how to step up to a few pages of sides, and in twenty minutes, apply the tools you are learning in acting class, into a character and script you've never seen before."

    Noam Haray