Summer Acting Programs: Elise Tollefsen Interview

byElise Tollefsen

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The Summer Acting Programs at the Maggie Flanigan Studio are considered by many to be the best Meisner Summer Acting Program and Acting Conservatory in the United States. In this interview Elise Tollefsen discusses how the Meisner Summer Intensive was different than the typical summer acting program that she was expecting.

Summer Acting Programs - Elise Tollefsen

Summer Acting Programs Interview – Elise Tollefsen

What did you think it meant to train as an actor before you started the six weeks Summer Meisner Intensive?

That’s a great question. I don’t think I knew exactly. I didn’t train as an actor before this. I came in here almost blind. I worked for a Broadway show backstage. I’ve been around the environment but I’ve always done the technical aspects of it. I think you have this idea that it’s going to be the typical, all these exercises and doing different scenes and getting a feel for everything. It’s the complete opposite of that. I knew that this was going to be a different program coming in and I think that’s why I chose it ultimately. You have an idea of what actors do and you think that it’s just going to be an all fun and games and being on stage and being showy and all that good stuff.


Charlie is one of the most supportive teachers I've ever had. He is very, very tough and amazing all the same time. He won't cuddle you or tell you that you're great when something isn't going right and when something needs to be worked on.

Elise TollefsenSummer Acting Program, Meisner Summer Intensive

How did the six week acting program that change your perspective on acting and training?

So much, so much happened. I think I was very thrown off by not doing scenes immediately. You come in assuming that you’re going to be doing that kind of stuff automatically and that’s just what happens in training. We did the exercise first. You have to come to terms with a lot about yourself as a human and I think that that’s the scariest part of acting, is because you can’t necessarily be anybody else in a role unless you know yourself first and you’re completely comfortable with that. I think that was the biggest thing, is me getting comfortable with myself as a person which is a weird thing to get from an acting class or at least for me. I feel like that’s the most important thing that I could have gotten here.

Elise Tollefsen looking off camera. Elise attended the Meisner Summer Intensive at the Maggie Flanigan Studio

Meisner Intensive – Summer Acting Programs – Maggie Flanigan Studio

What did you learn about yourself during the program that surprised you?

I learned that I have a very hard time speaking up for myself. I’m a very outgoing person, I’m talkative and I have no problem speaking to other people. You think that what you do outside in society is speaking up for yourself when in reality we’re so trained to be a certain way. In the worlds that you don’t realize how much of yourself that, you’re hiding and not consciously, you just are. I think it’s changed me a great deal here because I’ve learned the different aspects of myself that I had never really explored before.

How would you describe Charlie as an acting teacher?

I’ll start by saying he is probably one of the most supportive teachers I’ve ever had and he pushes you and he is very knowledgeable and inspiring. He also won’t cuddle you or tell you that you’re great or give you anything like that. I prefer that kind of teacher, I don’t like to be told good job every single day. I like to be told when something isn’t going right and when something needs to be worked on and I am here to train and to learn. I think a lot of other teachers try to baby their students thinking that it’s going to help them ultimately to open up when I think it’s of the opposite if you start to poke at people and get into their deeper selves. I think they’ll open up completely on their own when they’re ready. I think he’s very supportive but very, very tough and amazing all the same time.

What would you say to someone like you who has trained before, think they understand what it means to be an actor and that they don’t need to train?

Many people think “Maybe I don’t need training, maybe I could just do it on my own.” They’re watching these videos or they looked at the website, they’re curious but maybe they think don’t have time, or the money. They’re making a lot of excuses about why they couldn’t do something like this. What would you say to that person?

The people that don’t think they have the time or money, it’s a complete lie. I am a firm believer in that if there is a will there’s a way. Also, I work a full-time job plus doing fitness on the side and then I also do this during the day and it’s a big time commitment and especially this plus the on-camera auditioning class that I do. I’m here way more than at home these days. I think I would just say just go for it and if you really, truly want to do it you’re going to find a way, you will always find a way. If you think that you don’t need training to become an actor, that is a horrible idea.

God bless you but it’s a bad idea. I feel people go out and think that as long as you can read a script and you come from on camera you can act, which I’m starting to find that it’s the complete opposite. Even after this intensive, I feel like I’m ready to go and get more training just because I know that I’m not at the level I want to be. It becomes very clear when you’re doing the intensive, that there’s so much more to learn.

This is a studio image of Karen Chamberlain teaching during the Meisner Summer Intensive and Summer Acting Profgrams at the Maggie Flanigan Studio

Summer Acting Programs – Meisner Summer Intensive 2018 – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Summer Acting Programs and the Six Week Meisner Summer Intensive

Acting Classes NYC

Learn more about the Summer Acting Program and the Meisner Summer Intensive at the Maggie Flanigan Studio by visiting the acting programs page on the studio website or by calling the studio during normal business hours at 917-789-1599.

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