The heart of the Maggie Flanigan Studio lies in the training technique developed by Sandy Meisner. A member of the legendary Group Theater of the 1930’s, Meisner created a way of training actors that is rooted in truth and the artist’s imagination.

The work begins with a very basic repetition exercise that starts to hone the actor’s ability to really listen, answer, and respond.

The First Year: Core Fundamentals

Over the nine months that make up the first year of training, the work evolves into a deeply rich improvisational exercise encompassing all of the fundamentals of acting. The actor then brings this work to three rounds of scenes during the first year. The goal is to bring the exercise work to text. The exercise is of no value if the actor cannot bring the fundamentals to scene work. In addition, the actor will learn how to identify the previous circumstance of a scene, how to emotionally connect to it, and will learn how to craft an acting relationship.

The ability to do truthfully under imaginary circumstances is the standard that good actors strive to achieve. How an actor accomplishes this is the goal of First Year: learning to create a truthful reality, understanding how to craft personally and specifically, as well as harnessing your ability to daydream, in order to create organic, vivid behavior. Art is personal, and springs from the artist’s point of view. This is no different for the actor/artist. When given a script and a role, the actor’s job is to find his/her personal way into the material. If not, the work will be shallow and indicated. For this to be possible the actor must possess a vulnerable instrument capable of processing rich experience. Actors are called upon many times to illuminate human experiences most people have once or twice in a lifetime. For this to be possible, to be an actor with true dimension, one must have an emotional temperament that is easily accessible. First year provides the actor the opportunity to lay the foundation for the character work that comes in second year.

The Second Year: The Script and the Character

If first year is like putting money in the bank, Second Year is learning how to spend it. What does the actor do when her/his straight response is not the character’s? Second year gives her/him the tools to solve this problem organically. Character work is the highest form of acting; the ability to step into the shoes of another human being and illuminate the human condition in all its aspects. Script interpretation and character development is the core of second year work. Another important component is teaching the actor about the rehearsal process, and providing an understanding of what will be expected professionally.

While working on major roles from the best playwright’s, the actor puts all of his/her training together over a demanding nine months of work.

The goal of the two year program is to instill in the actor a craft, a way of working that will serve as the floorboard for their talent. A process that will support them for what is hopefully a long career. Martha Graham said “Technique will set you free.” This is our belief as well. Our hope is that you will emerge from this program with not only a craft, but an appreciation of acting as an art form, a solid work ethic, and an inviolate sense of truth.

We have provided a number of video interviews of current and former students to let you hear from them in their own words about their experience at the Maggie Flanigan Studio. We hope this is helpful as you search for a training program that is right for you.

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