Meisner Summer Acting Programs: The Brody Redman Interview

byBrody Redman

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Summer acting programs at Maggie Flanigan Studio introduce actors to the Meisner Technique. In this video, Brody Redman talks about how he first heard about the Meisner Summer Intensive, how the acting program changed his audition experiences, and what it has been like training online with the studio.

Katie: Hi Brody, How are you?
Brody: I’m good. It’s warm here. I’m in Florida. It’s 80 degrees, and it’s not New York, but it’s warm, so it’s good.

Meisner Summer Acting Programs: Brody Redman Interview

Meisner Summer Acting Programs – Brody Redman -Maggie Flanigan Studio

Q: What did you think it meant to train as an actor before you started taking classes at Maggie Flanigan Studio?

OK. We’re starting big. Before I thought Acting was showing, I felt that even after undergrad training, Acting would be easy and that it would be you sing pretty because I started a musical theater, you sing pretty. You show the people what they want to see, and then there it is, but in reality, after digging deeper into the work, it’s so much more exciting than that. It’s so much more than that. Acting as an art form, it’s not just a means to sing or a means to do a show. It’s a proper art form.

Q: You started at the studio with a six-week summer intensive, correct?

I did, yes. It was exciting. It was scary to start a new journey like always. I started it on blind faith based on a couple of reviews. I got one from a day job where I was done with auditioning. I was in a total ripe, and I worked 10 hours a day as a receptionist at a medical office. All the patients were actors and artists, and so they would come in, they would sit in the lobby, they would be talking to their agents on the phone. They would be talking to each other, and all I did was listen because I think deep down subconsciously, I missed listening, and so I sat there, and I listened to them.

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When I came to the studio I was in a total rut working 10 hours a day as a receptionist at a medical office. Charlie knew exactly what that was and how to teach me to get me out of that rut.

Brody RedmanMeisner Summer Acting Programs

An alumnus of Maggie Flanigan Studio came in, and she was talking a bit of the technique, and I thought, wow, I don’t know anything. Then I met someone else who worked at the studio a week later, and it was fate. I was like, “OKOK, I need to jump into the summer intensive,” and that’s how it happened.

Q: What did you learn about yourself in the summer intensive and throughout these two years that has changed you?.

So much. It’s cliché, but I’m a different person. I grew up in the Midwest where we’re taught to be like, “Everything’s OKOK. Yes, everything’s good. Yes, everything’s fine,” and we put on this like façade and they said moving to New York would get rid of that, it never did for me. It never did. I moved through life with that façade, and it always worked for me.

Then when I started with Charlie and Maggie Flanigan in the summer intensive, he knew exactly what that was, and he knew exactly how to teach me to get out of that rut because that’s really what it is. It’s a façade; it’s a rut; it’s a narrative you used to get through life that isn’t useful. I learned how to have a point of view, an objective point of view about the world around me.

I learned how to listen because we all say we can listen. We all say, “Yes, I’m listening to you. Yes, OKOK. Yes, I’m listening,” but really, what you’re doing is you’re thinking of what you’re going to say next, or your focus is on yourself. He taught me how to put the focus on someone else. You might think you know how to do that, but you don’t know how to do that until you train.

Q: This is your first time studying the Meisner Technique, as you mentioned. What about the Meisner that makes it the best acting technique?

Yes, besides the listening, which is everything, it teaches you how to approach a character and how to approach a script and navigate everything that comes with taking on a profound, deep role or any role for that matter. Playing yourself, even playing your version, which everything’s a version of yourself, but even playing something close to home.

It teaches you the technique of how to break down a script, how to delve into a character, how to prepare emotionally, all those things that a lot of acting techniques teach, but this way is the only way that has ever worked for me. It taught me in a way that was healthy because a lot of techniques teach you a way of mining personal experience so profoundly that it has a negative effect or isn’t conducive to what we want to do. They mine this trauma, and then you heal from the trauma, and then you can no longer prepare.

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This technique taught me how to daydream again like I did when I was a kid. When I was a kid, I remember looking up at the sky, and I was just looked up at the sky in my backyard, and I was like, I know if something’s going to happen, but I don’t know what it’s going to be. I know I’m going to do stuff, but I don’t know what will happen or what it’s going to be. I don’t want to be an artist.

Then I lost that after I was a little boy but I found it again, studying with Charlie. It’s just such a beautiful technique that when you’re feeling lost or you’re feeling stagnant, or you’re feeling maybe you’re not talented enough, perhaps no one wants you because of X, Y, and Z, maybe it’s just that you haven’t found the proper technique and that technique for me was Meisner.

Q: What was your experience like auditioning in New York City before starting at the studio?

Yes. I’m laughing because it’s like night and day. When I went into the room before the studio, I would get the sides. If I saw that they want to see monologues, I would say, “I don’t have a monologue,” and I wouldn’t go to the audition. Because I was afraid, it was fear. I was worried that I didn’t have the skills to go to a play audition, so I went to musical theater auditions because I knew I had songs. I knew that I had that ability, that musicianship, but the acting ability, I didn’t feel like I was prepared for it.

I would get sides for musical theater auditions, and I wouldn’t memorize them. This whole experience has taught me, prepare, prepare, and prepare in the right way. Prepare in the way that we’re trained to prepare, and it will have a positive outcome for you. If it’s not the job, then it’s a personal achievement.

I would go into these audition rooms. I would not be memorized. I would sing pretty or whatever, and then they would say, thank you, and I usually wouldn’t get the job, and I didn’t know why. The feedback I would get would be, “You sound great, but you were more we’re looking for.” After training with Maggie for a while, I realized it’s because I wasn’t prepared at the end of the day.

If you’re trained to prepare, it’s easier to prepare because you know what you’re supposed to do. If you go into an audition, you get sides, and you’re like, “Well, I guess lightning will strike if I just say the lines or if I have an objective, and I have tactics and all these things that we were taught in undergrad.” We think that “OKOK, well, maybe lightning will strike, and it’ll be a good scene,” without really knowing why or how.

That’s what auditioning was like before. Now I know that there’s so much more work to put into it, but I know how to go about it, and that’s priceless.

Q: Do you think the problem you were having about that lack of preparation and understanding is why many actors struggle to work professionally?

100%. Everybody is talented, everybody. If you have the wherewithal to go into this business and show yourself, there’s some talent there. You have a natural push to do something in this business. Everybody’s talented. What sets people apart is that talent shouldn’t be a crutch. Talent is something that is a catapult for you to then build upon. It’s a foundation. I have learned that people who are not naturally talented sometimes do better because they work harder and don’t rest on talent. That’s something I was doing. I was sleeping on my singing, and then it got to a certain point where I started seeing the same people at the same auditions with the same outcome. Then I started hanging out with those people, people who are also in the same limbo.

What happens is then this feeling of this chip on your shoulder starts to appear where you’re saying, “Well, it’s the business. It’s not me; it’s this.” Then people get stuck there. Suppose you don’t find a studio like Maggie Flanigan and don’t find a technique that works for you. In that case, you will just be stuck in that limbo if you keep taking casting director classes, like a six-week intensive, if you keep taking those classes, but without training, all you’re doing is showing those casting directors how untrained you are.

Going to a casting director workshop expecting to be taught isn’t the right way to think about it. I see it as you’re a business; you’re a product. If you were in a cupcake business, you wouldn’t take your batch of cupcakes that you have never baked before to a convention to try to get investors. You wouldn’t walk into the convention and be like, “Hey, here are my crappy cupcakes; you want to try them?” Then they beat them, and they’re like, “No.” Then they put a big X over your name. It’s like that with casting director workshops. I don’t want to take my cupcakes to their convention until they’re ready to be tested, and it’s like they weren’t ready to be tasted. I think a lot of people in that purgatory don’t realize that.

Q: You were able to do the Summer Intensive and most of your first year in person, and then COVID hit. What was it like both working in-person versus working online?

OK OK, so COVID. You go through the first part of the quarantine where you’re like, “How much wine is too much wine?” You’re like, “What are we supposed to do?” Even in the studio, going from this beautiful in-person experience to feeling the energy of other actors and feeling this emotional prep, feeling these circumstances and these relationships, feeling and then going to Zoom, it’s where we are right now, you and I. It feels like we’re in the same room, but I could click off whenever I want. Nothing is keeping me here, so that’s hard. It was hard movement-wise just because I’m sitting, and after a while, you want to get up on your feet, you want to use your body, but our industry is headed in this direction anyway. The industry has realized, “Zoom is awesome for this. I can see them on screen; I don’t have to pay for a room, I don’t have to pay for space, the time, everything. I don’t have to bring a lot of actors physically into a space. It makes more financial sense as a business to do it this way.”

After I clicked and realized that, I turned a corner. I almost quit because I was afraid. A big thing that I’ve worked through in this training is fear of success and fear of finishing. I have this ingrained fear of success because of the responsibility it will bring on and the fear of finishing. Because once something’s done, it’s done, and that’s terrifying to me. The training has taught me; Charlie is the main person who’s taught me that what is there to be afraid of about success?

When you’re trained and build on that training, you’re ready for that responsibility. Nobody ever feels prepared. Even people who are doing the leading roles everywhere, the most successful actors, number one on the call sheets, still feel that feeling of “Am I ready for this?” That was mainly the reason why I stayed and also money. Money s****, but it’s also awesome. It’s this thing that we are all striving for, but also we hate. It’s what changes did I have to make because it was either quit and save the money and save the money like a bit of squirrel, or do I invest in my future and my career and go for it, make changes for my art instead. Instead of not? Go back to where I was before auditioning and not being prepared or making changes in my financial life.

I moved from New York down to Florida to be near my family. I took two part-time jobs, and I teach voice lessons online. I live more frugally, and I couldn’t be happier. Having extra money, not spending money on the studio for this training for how many months it would have been versus living more frugally, making the changes, and striving for the art and the training, it’s a no-brainer now. Money is money, and I hate it’s still cliché, but it does come and go. What’s money at the end of the day if you’re not fulfilled as an artist and if you never see where your potential will take you?

Yes, things are expensive, but so is our business.

You think about headshots, reels. The quality has to be so high nowadays, so why wouldn’t the training need to be there? You’re only going to get so far if you don’t train. The stories of successful people without real training and maintaining long careers are primarily myths, so why not invest in your future and your career and your art?

Brody Redman – Mesienr Summer Acting Programs – Maggie Flanigan Studio

I’m glad you keep using that word to invest because we often don’t see it that way as actors. “It’s too much money. I’m too old. I shouldn’t be doing this. I’m not 23, so I shouldn’t be training.”

The best acting looks effortless, and so a lot of people think, “Acting is easy. I can do it. I don’t need to go to class for that. I’m just really talented, and it’ll show in work. A lot is going on inside of me. I have a lot of surface emotion, and it’s going to come across. I’m going to cry here. They’re going to love it.” Then you get into the room, and it just doesn’t happen, and you’re like, “Why isn’t it happening?” Then you’re like, “Maybe they just didn’t like me because I remind them of their ex.” It’s just like a total mind game, and in reality, it’s just because you’re not trained.

Also, a lot of undergrad programs, there’s such a variety that there isn’t special training in acting. Especially if you go to a musical theater, their job is to teach you different ways of choosing the method that works for you. Why not try a very focused, specific training style and see if it works for you, like in the summer intensive as I did for six weeks? Why not go for six and focus on the craft instead of doing a six-week workshop where nobody knows what it’s for?

Casting director workshops are helpful, but I think they’re practical, not as a teacher-student situation. I think it’s just like going to that baking convention I was talking about, about taking your brand of cupcakes to a way, your brand. “Here is my brand for you to see,” finished.

The people that benefit the most from casting directors are those people that have a way of working because they are trained. They are prepared, and the casting directors see that. Those are the people they want to work with because they know what they’re doing.

Yes, and how beautiful for the casting director? How much easier their job is if you bring them this product that is ready to be seen because they’re artists. Casting directors are artists too. When artists get into a room, and they’re both prepared, and they’re both ready to play, that’s where the beauty happens. If one side isn’t prepared, then there’s a cog in the wheel. Casting directors are artists and if we bring our best-trained art to them on a platter prepared and ready, how beautiful it is for them?

Q: How would you describe Charlie as a teacher?

I love Charlie. I hope he knows that. I love Charlie, tough love. Like I said before, he got by on charm and got by on this façade and saw that he understood it. He didn’t buy it, and that’s the best thing I could’ve ever been taught– The best person I could have been taught by because for somebody to take you in and for you to spend money on experience on training and for them to cuddle you, I think that’s doing a disservice to both. They’re wasting their time, and the student isn’t learning. He doesn’t do that.

As you know, he doesn’t cuddle; he doesn’t take any BS. He calls you out when you’re not prepared, which is something that was a real awakening for me because when I thought I was ready, and it still happens, I’m not saying I’m perfect, but it gets better as you go along, you learn what prepared means being and what it feels like. You go in the six-week intensive, and you’re like, “I’m prepared,” and then he’s like, “You are not prepared and here’s why.” Then you’re like, “Of course, “and it’s a whole learning experience.

Tough love, caring, deeply. He cares so deeply about his students, and you can tell. When he sees good work, and he sees that you’re learning and trying, and even if it’s not good to work, but he sees how hard you’re working, you see the pride on his face. He is proud of you, and he doesn’t give away compliments. He’s not like, “Great work. That was awesome. Wow.” He’s like, “You’re on the right track,” and to me, it taught me not to seek approval from people as much, from directors, from everybody. It’s like, “I am not here to seek your approval. I am here to show you my art, to collaborate with you on this.” He creates that environment in class. He’s always prepared, always listening and watching and available, and he is the best teacher I’ve ever had.

Maggie, Charlie, Karen, all of our teachers are instilling in you a standard of perfection, a way of working.

If you go to another program and the teacher coddles you, then you’re being prepared to be pampered. The business doesn’t care about you. They don’t care. There are so many talented people in New York, in the country, in the world. They don’t have time to care about you. It’s a business. If you’re prepared to be coddled and you’re looking for that positive reinforcement and that coddling, then all that’s going to happen is you’re going to be brushed under the rug because no one will want to work with you. After all, it’s too much work.

Being in a studio-like Maggie Flanigan, working with the teachers like Charlie, or Karen, or Sarah Fay, is excellent. Working with them, you learn not just how to act in a specific way. You learn how to exist in this business. You learn how to say, “I know my work was good. I know what I did was good, or I wasn’t prepared enough. I know my work could be better.” You know how to tell. If you’re coddled, you need someone else to say to you if you were good or not.

Q: Your year was put to the grind with the massive change of COVID. Can you talk a bit about the community at the studio?

Community is everything already in what we do in our business like we’re collaborators, but we all went through a traumatic experience when we’re going through trauma. We’re all going to be dealing with this for years and years and years. The family created at Maggie Flanigan before the pandemic was beautiful, but as we moved through it and we all worked through that grief of the initial lockdown together, we got so close, we became close closer than I thought we would.

We have group chats. We have rehearsals together. I even got to meet up with some people in person once things were lifted and we wore masks, and we’re safe obviously because these friendships that we’re creating and these relationships that we’re making will go for the rest of our careers. You hear all the time about people who’ve met in training and then ended up working together years down the line. Maybe somebody doesn’t continue acting, but they go in to be a manager or become an agent or become a casting director or producer, actor-producer, or writer.

It’s like these relationships are our future, and so working with Sarah Fe, as a movement teacher, she is brilliant, she is wise, and cares deeply. I would say that about all the teachers and Maggie Flanigan, but she is just like such a beautiful person and her workshops. They had to move on Zoom, even workshops on Zoom, once you get past the initial like, “I’m going to be yelling in my apartment, and the walls are thin,” and once you get past that, it teaches you how to be like, “Wait, I’m an artist. It’s OKOK. I’m going to be allowed right now for three hours because I’m an artist, and that’s what I do.” Taking those workshops, amazing.

Karen. I haven’t gotten to take many classes with Karen, but she’s subbed a few times. Karen is the most nurturing, caring, and specific person I think I’ve ever met. Her ability to look at you and hear you and pinpoint exactly what to say, you can’t teach that. She’s a beautiful, beautiful person.

2021 Meisner Summer Intensive - Maggie Flanigan Studio
2021 Meisner Summer Acting Programs – Maggie Flanigan Studio

You’ve been super gracious with your time and all of your shares, which I know is helpful to people that are thinking about doing the summer intensive. This is a big decision. We always encourage people to take time to think about this before committing.

Q: What would you say to someone who says they are not sure about the summer intensive?

I would say I do it; what do you have to lose? Yes, it’s a little bit of money, it’s money. If you invest in your career in other ways before you even know how to act, like getting new headshots, getting reels made, casting director workshops, going to these auditions, and not booking the roles you want, then this program is for you. If you’re feeling unfulfilled, why not? It’s six weeks.

You’d be doing the casting director workshop anyway. You might go to six weeks of auditions and not book a single one and wake up at 5:00 AM every day and be exhausted, and what do you have to show for it? You’re giving your time for free to these things or paying for them already, so why not divert that investment to a six-week intensive and see how it goes? It’s six weeks and some money, compared to what? Compared to your artistic training, of course.

Like you said before, if I’m going to be a pianist and I’m talented, I already have like, “I can play by ear, and it’s great,” and then I want to be a professional piano player. You have to learn how to read music. You have to work with somebody, you have to go to school for it. You have to train in a particular way, and Acting is the same.

Q: Anything else I didn’t ask that you’re dying to share with us?

You’re never too old. I am coming from this undergrad background, and then auditioning for a long time, doing some fun jobs, doing some tours, doing all that, but never feeling fulfilled, made me feel ashamed. That’s what kept me from finding this training for so long. I felt a lot of shame, and I felt like I can’t do it. There’s something wrong with me, and then I realized, wait, this is all I can do. I’m not good at a lot of other things. I’m like OKOK at many things, but I don’t want to do any of them.

Then this is the thing that I didn’t feel prepared to do, but I wanted to do, but when I made this decision, I was 28, and it was like, am I too old? Then as a business person, because I have a very business-oriented mind, I think of it as being like, oh, what is my casting? How will I grow into my casting? How will I grow into my brand? How much time do I have? What is the Pokémon evolution of my casting? Grad student, a young lawyer, and OKOK then-lawyer, doctor. OKOK, great nurse. Oh, cool, and then dad.

Then when I started thinking about it in those terms, I realized age doesn’t matter if you have a clear trajectory. If you’re like, I’m too old because I want to play daughter or play with a young person, I still want to play the young person badly, and now I’m too old. Then it’s like, wait, no, I am older. I can’t play those roles anymore, so I just have to rebrand myself, and companies do it all the time. Look at Coca-Cola right, look at how their brand has evolved throughout time, and it’s like, it’s still the same brand. It’s just the outside has changed a little bit. I wanted to share that age doesn’t matter; as long as you’re alive and want to be an artist and feel like you’re not trained enough in a specific way, what do you have to lose? You’ve used all this time already to putz around, so why not take two years or just six weeks and see what happens.

2021 Meisner Summer Acting Programs – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Interviews for the Meisner Summer Acting Programs

Learn more about the Meisner summer acting programs at the Maggie Flanigan Studio by visiting the website for the studio https://www.maggieflaniganstudio.com/new-york-ny. Actors interested in applying for acceptance into the acting programs at the studio can call the studio at (917) 789-1599.

Meisner Summer Acting Programs

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Summer
Acting ProgramThe Meisner Technique

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The Maggie Flanigan Studio has the best summer acting program in New York and the United States for serious actors who are interested in the Meisner Technique.
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