Two Year Acting Program – Interview with Phil Portolano

byPhil Portolano

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The two year acting program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio provides professional training for serious actors. In this interview Phil Portolano talks about what it was like to train at the studio for two years.

two year acting program phil portolanoQ – What did you think acting training was before you started studying at Maggie Flanigan Studio?

A – Before I started the program, I think I had a pretty typical experience of actor training. A lot of weird exercises sometimes, like trying to smell a cup of coffee that doesn’t actually exist. But the majority of the time is spent working on scenes and trying to break down scenes into actions and objectives. But it always felt like there was something missing because as much as I tried to do that work on a script, it just never came to life for me.

Q – What happened during the two year acting program that changed your perspective on training?

A – I learned the fundamentals of acting and I think that’s what most places don’t teach you, you know? You’re jumping right into scene work and character work, which is such an advanced thing, but you don’t even know how to really listen and take in what the other actor is giving you and once I learned that, how to really listen and to take something personally and respond with an honest and truthful point of view, then that changed everything, but until you learn those fundamentals, you can’t start working on a script because as a result, you’re just going to have actors talking at each other or “acting at each other”. It’s not rooted in the foundation of acting.

Q – What did you learn about yourself that surprised you or changed you during the two years?

A – One thing that really surprised me was we were taught that the actor has to connect with the inner-child inside of them because children are open, curious and they experience a whole range of different emotions and everything is uncensored. What surprised me was how much that inner-child was still alive in me and how I was able to connect with that and to open up and to have these real experiences and that’s what really surprised me. It can be fun and it can be playful while also taking it very seriously and being able to work that way in a safe environment where I never felt judged. I honestly felt like the staff cared about me and cared about my growth as an actor. It was an invaluable experience.

Q – Now that you’ve finished the two year program, how do you feel about starting a career?

A – I feel ready. I never felt ready to do it. I was always scared to act and I was worried that I would go through a whole training program like this and I would come out and I would still be scared and still feel like I wasn’t ready, but I don’t feel that way. I honestly feel ready. I feel like this studio prepared me for everything, the work, the business. I honestly feel like I know how to work as an actor and I’m confident in my abilities that I’ve gained from this place.

Q – Why did you decide that this was the place for you? There are a lot of studios, a lot of teachers. When you made the decision, why did you choose MFS?

A – I knew that I wanted to study Meisner. I had read his book and was fascinated. It really interested me. It seemed like a great approach to acting. Once I decided that, there really weren’t a whole lot of places that were teaching real, authentic Meisner technique and I knew that this studio was. I came here and I interviewed and I met Maggie and Charlie and the passion that they have for the craft and how they look at the craft as an art form was so evident and I could tell that they were passionate about teaching and they wanted to train serious actors and they wanted to pass on this technique. I felt very welcome and I was very inspired and very motivated. I’ve felt that way every day for the past two years.


In this interview Phil talks about his experience at the studio in the two year acting program.

To see another video and interview about the professional training program visit this page:
Jes Tom: Two Year Acting Program Interview

For more information about the two year acting program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio, visit the studio website or contact the studio directly by calling 917-789-1599.

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Acting ProgramThe Meisner Technique

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