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Meisner Technique – Meisner Training – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Sanford Meisner was one of the founding members of the Group Theatre in New York City along with Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler. Much like the technique developed by famed Russian actor and director Konstantin Stanislavski, where the Meisner technique has its roots, the Meisner method is a systematic approach to the craft of acting using exercises that build upon each other as the actor progresses further into study.

Each of the three Group Theatre founders went on to develop their own unique versions of the techniques developed at the theatre. Meisner’s technique was based, in part, on the belief that to achieve “true” acting performances an actor must work by reacting in the moment to the other actors and the play as a whole as it evolves onstage. For that reason, Meisner actors avoid the memorization of lines with vocal inflection or gestures so that they will not act out of “habit” thereby missing the opportunity to create moments that are more fresh, raw, funny, poignant–whatever the play calls for at that moment.

While this might seem to be a license to improvise without having to prepare, the opposite is actually true. Those that study the Mesiner technique must spend a great deal of time imagining events of a play in very specific ways and practice exercises that are thought to help develop a deep knowledge of themselves and the character. Through a practice of actively “daydreaming” about events, they begin to build a repitoire of emotional responses that can be used to draw from as a play unfolds.

Sanford Mesiner felt that the human imagination was a far richer resource to draw from than memory. Rather than recall a feeling or experience and using it in a performance, Meisner felt that actors should leverage the power of imagination to delve into feelings and experiences and use that to begin creating a character with its own reality and history. While not strictly improvisational, Meisner actors believe the Meisner technique allows for a more energetic and engaging performances where the actor, in essence, disappears and is replaced by a true character who “lives” onstage once the performance begins. This character as the ability to help create and respond to a new reality moment by moment.

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Meisner Technique Training with Maggie Flanigan

Sandford Meisner began his work in the 1930’s after he became convinced that “method” acting, which was the root of Stanislavski’s technique, was not an organic enough and had too much of a European influence to be useful to american actors. Meisner’s life’s work was dedicated creating a technique of acting that would allow American actors to “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” He launched the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City and there developed what is now known as the Meisner technique. It has gone one to become one of the most respected and practiced acting techniques in the history of American theatre for over sixty years.

The Meisner technique has been carried on by hundreds of teachers but, the list of those who studied with him directly and were endorsed by him to carry on his work is much shorter.

Want to find out more about the Meisner technique, then visit The Maggie Flanigan Studio site on how to choose the best Meisner technique training in New York City.

Meisner Technique, Meisner Technique- Scene Study