Making Sense of the Puzzle

byMata Barr

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The Six-Week Summer Acting Programs in New York at the Maggie Flanigan Studio introduces actors to the Meisner Technique in a small studio and a safe, nurturing environment. In this interview with Katie after the summer acting intensive, Mata Barr discusses what it was like taking the Meisner Intensive after studying acting in an undergraduate theatre program.

Mata Barr talks about the summer acting program in New York at Maggie Flanigan Studio

Best Summer Acting Program in New York, NY – Maggie Flanigan (917) 789-1599

Katie: Mata, what did you think it meant to train as an actor before you started the six-week summer intensive?

Mata: I think I had a relatively– I knew that I had to train as an actor. I knew I should do it. I went to school, and I thought that that was the right thing to do. I certainly learned things. I had the impression that there wasn’t an organized way of training because the experiences that I’ve had have been mismatched and hodgepodge if you will. Before I was here, I just felt like I was putting my puzzle together and trying to get as much information from a bunch of different sources as many as I could to make my puzzle work, which is not how I feel now. I feel like I found something that is a puzzle, and the pieces all fit together. It’s meant to go together now.

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"Before training at the studio, I thought that there wasn't an organized way of training. I was getting information from a bunch of different sources trying to make my puzzle work. After the summer intensive, all the pieces fit together."

Mata BarrSummer Acting Program in New York

Katie: Besides that, what do you think it means to train as an actor now?

Mata: Now, I always knew that it took time and dedication, and these more significant umbrella words. I think now I know what that means. I know what it means to sit down with myself. Charlie said something great about mining your heart for meaning. I think that that is a really, really, really important thing that I’ve learned in these short six weeks, but I think that that kind of specificity and that honesty with yourself is something that I’ve realized is maybe the most essential part of training as an actor, along with the grit, and the tenacity, and the fire, and the dedication, and the work ethic that partners with that sensitivity and specificity and care.

Katie: Was this your first time studying the Meisner technique?

Mata: Yes, it was.

Katie: Did you have any preconceived notions about it before you started?

Mata: I tried not to. I did some research, online, it was like, it’s great for people who are in their head, and I was like, “Perfect, that’s me.” I had some skeptical friends. No one talked down on the Meisner technique by any means, but I had an understanding that in theory, it was going to get me out of my head, great. Also, people were telling me that it was repetitive. I guess people think it’s clunky, is what was said to me. That it was not as fun or not as– I don’t know, there wasn’t so much momentum as they may have liked, which I did not find to be right at all.

Katie: How is the training here? The Meisner Technique, the teachers, Charlie, how is it different than what you expected coming in six weeks ago?

Mata: After meeting Charlie, I had an idea that this was a no-nonsense place to be. I think that that has solidified itself. I have learned so much from all the teachers. We have Charlie, and we also have Karen, who’s lovely. It’s a teamwork sort of a situation, and it’s very symbiotic. I think this is a great, great, great, great environment to be training in and to be learning, like really learning in.

Katie: What was something that happened in these past six weeks that was a surprise or that changed you?

Mata: That’s an interesting question because I feel changed, but I know that I haven’t been changed. I’ve been me this whole time. I think that the training and the pushing against what should be as according to everyone else, that push and that sort of break of those walls was the most fantastic thing. It has changed me, but also it’s just turned me into the real me that has been here the whole time.

Katie: How has it changed you as an actor?

Mata: As an actor? I think I’m serious now. I’m careful and specific. I look at training now with more respect. Respect for myself, respect for anyone that I’m collaborating with. I think it’s just a particular way of doing things now and I’m grateful for that. It’s like the yellow brick road. Just follow the yellow brick road, and it’ll work out. It’s scary. It’s a scary yellow brick road, but it’s a great one.

Mata Barr discusses the acting programs in New York at the Maggie Flanigan Studio

Acting Programs New York – Maggie Flanigan Studio – Interview with Mata Barr

Katie: I know you studied theatre and undergrad and that you were auditioning before the six weeks summer intensive. How do you think the work that you’ve done these past six weeks will change your auditioning?

Mata: I think there’s a level of confidence that I have now. I haven’t been auditioning. I’ve been to class every morning, which is like the most fulfilling thing maybe. I think that there is this confidence that like I know me and I know the level of work that I can do and then I will do. I think that’s going to translate into auditioning and also just like emotional health in an odd way. I can be present in an audition room. The confidence goes hand in hand with that, but being present and ready for anything and play full out and to go for it.

Katie: How has the sense of community at the studio enhance your experiences this past six weeks?

Mata: I admire everyone that I’m in class with, which I think is an extraordinary thing. I know that we all come from very different walks of life. Some people have studied, some people haven’t. There is this sort of feeling of community because we are so different, which I think is hard in a lot of studios because people are so different. It’s easy to identify things that make us different.

The fact that we’re all doing this program that treats us as beginners at the beginning is unifying. The fact that everyone is so open and willing to be here and to give themselves to the work is a remarkable thing. People are very like-minded in work ethic as well, which I a hundred million percent appreciate and again admire in everybody. It’s just a great good feeling place to be where people are themselves and upstanding and will congratulate you or hug you when you cry and be there for you no matter what.

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Katie: How would you describe your experience with Charlie as a teacher?

Mata: I don’t know if I want to use the word adore to Charlie, but I love Charlie. He says he won’t clap for you when it’s not earned, and I think that that is so valuable. There is this feeling in the class where we’re all struggling, and it’s so okay to struggle. Even today in class, we were talking about scenes and things, and people were like, “Man, I misunderstood.” He’s like, “Well, it’s fine to misunderstand.” Which I’ve never felt that was a true statement from a teacher before. I feel like while he has a high bar, he’s ready to hold us up to it and also give us the stepping stool and show us how to get up to the bar. There’s no blurred lines. There’s no confusion. I appreciate that hardness and strength but also the compassion and tenderness to foster young artists.

Katie: What would you say to people or someone that was watching this video or you were talking to, and they were like, “I don’t have the money. I don’t have the time. I’m already 23? What would you say to that person?

Mata: Just do it. Dive into the deep end — the money. I feel like who cares about the money. The money is worth it. I have had the experience where I paid a lot of money for classes that weren’t anything. I didn’t feel like I got anything out of it, and that was partially why I came here. I had a friend who told me, “Hey, this is not a waste of time. It’s not a waste of money, and it will hold you up to yourself and teach you something.” That is true. The money is worth it. The time it is worth it. It is the most worth it amount of time that I’ve ever spent with myself, the work.

The clock is only ticking on how long you’re willing to not listen to your heart and listen to yourself. That’s the only clock that’s ticking. Just do it. Just do it

students in the acting program at Maggie Flanigan Studio

Meisner Acting Programs in New York – Maggie Flanigan Studio – Call (917) 017-789-1599

Acting Programs in New York at the Maggie Flanigan Studio

To learn more about the Meisner Summer Intensive at the Maggie Flanigan Studio https://www.maggieflaniganstudio.com/ , visit the acting programs page on the studio website, and then search online for reviews from students about the studio. Interested actors should apply online and call the studio at (917) 789-1599 with questions about enrollment.

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