Serious Actors Study and Master All Six Aspects of Their Acting Instrument

byMaggie Flanigan

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Those actors interested in the Meisner acting technique may have heard of the actor’s instrument. While directors and actors are sometimes at odds due to creative differences, the truth is actors are the instruments, the components, that make up a successful production with a director as a conductor. Creative differences may find actors and directors at odds, but the actors are the instruments directors use somewhat like a conductor to tell a story. The job actors have is that of vision casting, taking the ideas and vision of the writer and director and making it into something believable and real using their actor’s instrument. It’s good for directors to remain open to the actor’s instrument and be aware of allowing the special nuances an actor brings to the vision to enrich the story.

Instruments make a beautiful sound, actors make a full range of expressions, from voice and sound to physical, and subtle emotional communication to tell us about our unique human experience. Internal and external expressions are necessary, and actors that study the Meisner technique know how to integrate them all in a fascinating way to create their “instrument.” The aspects of the actor’s instrument can be grouped into six general categories known as Sensory expression, Imagination, Intelligence, Physical expression, Empathy, and emotion. By mastering as many of these aspects as possible, and working hard at developing all of them, an actor has the ability to take on any role. Most successful actors working today have done an outstanding job of mastering many, if not all of these skills.

The Maggie Flanigan Studio provides acting classes in NYC for serious actors. Find out more about Meisner acting on the studio website or read this article about emotional memory.

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