Method Acting vs Meisner Technique

byCharlie Sandlan

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Method vs Meisner - Maggie Flanigan Studio - Charlie Sandlan

Method vs Meisner – Maggie Flanigan Studio (917) 789-1599

Both Lee Strasberg and Sandy Meisner understood that the best acting came from authentic experience, from the ability to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances. These two legendary teachers sprang out of the iconic Group Theater of the 1930’s. Strasberg, a founding member along with Cheryl Crawford and Harold Clurman, became the de-facto acting teacher of the company. Based on the early work of Constantin Stanislavski, Strasberg created a technique which at its core, deals with emotional memory, sense memory, and emotional recall.; using your limited life experiences to connect emotionally with a character. Over the decade of the Group’s existence, many company members, including Stella Adler and Sandy Meisner found this way of working too often unhealthy and self-absorbed.

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Why must an actor go back into their past and dredge up memories that often have deep psychological and emotional scars?

Charlie SandlanExecutive Director, Head of Acting

Why must an actor go back into their past and dredge up memories that often have deep psychological and emotional scars? A frequent criticism leveled at the Method was that it was more therapy and less actor training. As Stanislavski’s work started to focus on the power of the imagination, Sandy Meisner created a training technique to capitalize on the compelling aspect of this human characteristic.

Fundamentally, Meisner knew that the best actors have their attention off of themselves and onto their temporary object; either the other person or activity. He realized that most actors don’t listen, don’t respond spontaneously from unanticipated moment to unanticipated moment, and are too often more concerned with feeling than doing. Meisner also believed that the imagination was an incredibly powerful, creative tool. Our ability to daydream and fantasize is part of our human experience. The Meisner Technique harnesses this ability to the craft of acting. The imagination springs from the unconscious, and this, Meisner knew, is the source of creativity. Combine this with his understanding of the importance of simple, specific and personal crafting, and Meisner eventually created the healthiest and most consistent way to create organic, vivid, and experiential behavior.

What is the Difference Between Meisner and Method Acting?

Method vs Meisner at the Maggie Flanigan Studio 917-789-1599

Method vs Meisner at the Maggie Flanigan Studio

Many universities and acting studios think that having two people stand across from each other and repeat for weeks on end is what Meisner’s work is all about. I interview so many who say, “Yeah, I did some repetition in college”, and think they understand Meisner’s technique. When taught properly, repetition is actually the “training wheels” for the heart of the first-year work. It evolves over months into a deep, rich, and sophisticated improvisational exercise that takes an aspiring actor and grounds her/him with fundamentals and an inviolate sense of truth. This is then brought to scenes so that a Meisner trained actor can freely, spontaneously and personally improvise their way through a script.

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