No More Whining and Complaining

byBen Stone

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The Fall Meisner Intensive at Maggie Flanigan Studio introduces actors to the Meisner technique precisely as Sanford Meisner intended. Ben Stone talks about the six-week program and the similarities between training to play football and professional actor training.

Fall Meisner Intensive Ben Stone - Maggie Flanigan Studio

Fall Meisner Intensive Ben Stone – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Ben Stone Interview: No More Whining and Complaining

Q: Ben, what did you think it meant to train as an actor before you started the six-week intensive at Maggie Flanigan Studio?

A: Frankly, I didn’t know so much. It seemed like to be an actor you needed to read a lot of plays and take as many classes as you can, but this has given a high level of specificity to the training, it seems more like training. I played football, so I tried to bring the work ethic of a football player to this, and now it has directions, so it’s a lot easier to work hard. It’s not just this weird abstract idea of good and evil.

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The Meisner intensive helped me find a way to direct my intensity, passion and work ethic to the craft of acting. I feel much more connected to what I'm doing, and it feels much more natural.

Ben StoneStudent, Meisner Summer Intensive

Q: Now that you’re finishing the Meisner intensive what do you think it means to train as an actor?

A: Now it means you have to have such a great, a deep understanding of yourself. It’s not just ideas about society and beliefs about people; it’s you– It’s bringing what you wanted about yourself into scenes and into everything you do and be more aware of how you feel about things. Not just physically feel but emotionally feel and being in touch with those emotions, and it is okay to be in contact with those emotions.

fall meisner intensive begins - fall meisner intensive program - (917) 789-1599

The Fall Meisner Intensive Begins – Fall Meisner Intensive Program – Call (917) 789-1599

Q: What happened to you over the six-week intensive specifically that changed your perspective?

A: It was one day when we moved on to the independent activity, and I just flipped out, just totally freaked out. I’m a big guy for most of my life trying not to freak out because I am a big scary guy and it’s not societally acceptable. That was like a light bulb moment it’s like, “That’s what Charlie, he’s got to be alive in that,” yes, that was the aha moment. Before with just the repetition, it’s like I couldn’t figure it out really, but then the light bulb went off, and my work felt a lot better.

Q: What did you learn about yourself over the past six weeks that was a surprise?

A: I have a lot more pent of aggression than I thought. I am a lot more intolerant of little things people do than I thought, things that annoy me, things that I don’t think are acceptable for other people to do. I’ve become a lot more aware of that instead of just suppressing it because you can’t just pick apart everybody, nobody wants to be around you. Just being more aware of it has helped me be more observant; which has been tremendous.

Q: You mentioned previously you studied at some other studios or another studio, how has your experience at Maggie Flanigan Studio been different from the other studios you’ve studied at?

A: Well, in some ways it’s a lot more about, let’s get to work. We can have fun, but it’s about we’re working hard. We’re learning, we’re trying to grow, we’re trying to get better, and that’s the core, the root of everything. On top of that, as I said before, it’s a lot more specific. People know what they’re talking about. There are noticeable changes and improvements that I’ve gone through just personally. Frankly, I don’t know what the perception of my work has been, but for me observing or trying to find myself, I feel much more connected to what I’m doing, and it feels much more natural, and it’s easier to get going.

Q: Coming from an athletic background, how have you seen the similarities?

A: I’ve trained so hard and so intensely for so long at sports, that when there is something I care about, and I want to be good at if I can’t find it, I get frustrated. Especially if it’s something I don’t know that much about, if I can’t see a teacher that can create that level of intensity, it drives me crazy. It drives me nuts. I spent so much time training for sports, and it’s been a trip trying to figure out how to apply that same intensity and work ethic and passion to something where I’m not headbutting people.

Because it’s, in some ways, so similar because you have to work so hard and you have to be so aware everything that you’re doing, and you’ve got to love it. You have got no business doing it because there is so much work and time and effort involved. At the same time, it’s so different because I played tight end and I played defensive end. These are big guys slamming into each other which is entirely different. That level of aggression and that level of violence and contact and physicality is almost wholly absent from this.

fall meisner intensive begins - fall meisner intensive program - (917) 789-1599

The Fall Meisner Intensive Begins – Fall Meisner Intensive Program – Call (917) 789-1599

Finding a way to apply the energy and the desire to learn and grow and do well to something not physical in the same way, has been tough but the level– like I said, the level of specificity; knowing what we’re talking about so we can throw ourselves at it. Because we’re not questioning like, “This doesn’t make any sense, why are we doing this?” has been fantastic and that it’s given me an outlet for all of this energy. I feel like I’m growing because of it.

It is about taking control of your emotions because there are penalties and there are fines. With the acting, it’s like exploding emotionally but then also analyzing it.

“I feel this way.” It might not be as in depth as like, “Why do I feel?” We’re not psychologists, but it recognizes that you feel this way and something made you think this way. It has been great.

Q: How would you describe Charlie as a teacher?

A: Very no-nonsense. Not in a drill sergeant sort of way. We joke, we have fun, but when it’s time to work, he’ll even be like, somebody will do something funny in a scene, and we’ll laugh, and he’ll have something to say, and he’s like, “Shut up. I’m trying to work here. We’re not here to entertain you; we’re here to work. Shut up.” It has been fantastic. He’s very intense in a productive way.

Q: What would you say to someone who was looking for an acting intensive, and they were deciding between a couple of different places? Why would you tell them to come to Maggie Flanigan Studio?

A: I’ve learned that acting is about work and work, and work, and work. It is like going to the gym, show up and work. It’s your set, don’t whine or complain. Get up and go. It’s an excellent place to work.

Best Acting Programs New York - Maggie Flanigan Studio - Call (917) 789-1599

Best Acting Programs New York – Maggie Flanigan Studio – Call (917) 789-1599

Apply for Admission to the Meisner Fall Intensive

Learn more about the Maggie Flanigan Studio, the Fall Meisner Intensive and the acting programs at the studio by visiting the acting programs page on the Maggie Flanigan website. Actors who are interested in applying to the acting programs should contact the studio to arrange an interview.


Meisner Acting Intensive Programs in New York

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