MEISNER SUMMER INTENSIVE
Six Week Meisner Summer Intensive
Acting summer intensives in NYC are a dime a dozen. If you are in New York or heading there for the summer, you can sign up for a fun two months of theater games and pats on the back. You will finish not knowing a thing about the craft of acting, nor possess any understanding of the art form. If you are interested in truly doing something substantial with your summer, and want to spend your money wisely you must first know what you want, and then do your due diligence to seek it out.
To find a Six-Week Summer Meisner Intensive that will accurately and passionately teach you the first two months of the Meisner Technique, you should be clear about what to look for. The complete progression of Meisner training, if taught properly, takes a full two years to implement. What starts with simple repetition evolves over first year into a very deep, and sophisticated improvisational exercise that encompasses all the fundamentals of acting. If you are seriously interested in becoming an exceptional actor, and are trying to discover what true professional actor training is, then finding a six-week Meisner summer intensive will answer many questions.
Sanford Meisner was a member of the Group Theater of the 1930’s, whose company members included some of the most influential actors and artists of the 20th century: Stella Adler, Elia Kazan, Clifford Odets, Lee Strasberg, and Harold Clurman to name just a few. Meisner came to believe that Strasberg’s approach to actor training (known as the Method) was not particularly healthy or creative. He did not agree that using your own past life experiences to manipulate yourself emotionally was necessary to an actor’s craft. In 1935 Sandy joined the faculty of the Neighborhood Playhouse and over the next many decades created what is now known as the Meisner Technique, one of the greatest ways to instill fundamental craft and technique into an actor.
Why Attend a Meisner Summer Intensive?
Understand that you cannot learn how to act in six weeks. It takes two to three years of immersive training. But an excellent Six-Week Meisner Summer Intensive should leave you with a true understanding of acting as an art form, the importance of artistry and hard work, a real understanding of what professional training and a serious studio is, and a deeper appreciation for the fundamentals of listening, crafting, and spontaneity with text.
Below are three things that any professional Six-Week Meisner Summer Intensive should accomplish.
What Can I Learn in Six Weeks?
Listening And Personal Point Of View
Most amateur and untrained actors do not listen. They wait for their cues, ready to “act their lines” at whoever happens to be on stage or camera with them. The core fundamental of good acting, the bedrock upon which technique is built, is the ability to truly listen. The beginning third of Meisner training addresses this immediately. You will learn how to be truly present, out of your head, curious and open, beginning the process of chiseling away the defenses that keep you from true vulnerability. This will lead you towards something essential for any serious actor: discovering the organic, spontaneous impulse. The early repetition removes the anxiety of thinking of something to say, freeing the student to function from their spontaneity, rooting them in the present moment. In life we miss moments all the time, we can easily get lost in thought or distracted. If that happens on stage or on camera, it can derail an entire scene. A professional six-week Meisner intensive will help you better understand and function from these fundamental principles.
Another essential aspect of any true artist is their ability to create from their personal point of view. It’s what separates one artist from the next, in any medium. For the actor, this means possessing the ability to respond personally, sacrificing politeness for truth. That is incredibly difficult, because we are rarely truthful in life, except for our very intimate relationships where trust has been established. The actor however must respond personally in every moment. The beginning of the Meisner technique teaches the actor to find the courage to be truthful. It is the goal of any real artist.
Crafting And The Imagination
Constantin Stanislavski, who founded the Moscow Art Theater in the 1920’s, is credited as the father of organic acting. Prior to his work, acting was very presentational and stylized. His work was rooted in the belief that good acting was truly living and breathing the part. Meisner’s definition of acting is rooted in this principle: acting is the ability to do truthfully under an imaginary circumstance. Most untrained actors indicate or pretend. The first two months of the Meisner Technique teach the student a very important thing called actors faith. It’s the ability to accept as real what you have crafted. In this first two months of the work, you will learn how to begin crafting. How to use your imagination to pin down a previous circumstance that compels you to do something, is a fundamental skill. The simplicity, specificity, and personal meaning with which you craft are what will allow you to create vivid behavior.
Freedom And Sponteneity With Text
When Meisner taught his acting classes in NYC, he knew that his exercise work would only have true value if his students could take what they were learning and apply it to scenes. Any true six-week Meisner intensive should end with scene work. In First Year, students do three rounds of scenes, each round challenging students to apply everything they are learning to text. After four weeks of getting out of your head, onto your spontaneous impulses, responding personally in every moment, and crafting simply and personally, the last two weeks of the intensive culminates in first round scenes. Actors have misconceptions about acting based on the film, TV, and theater they have consumed. Bad habits form: line readings, adjusting to the text, waiting for your cues, not going from unanticipated moment to unanticipated moment, or subverting your inner life to fit a line. These are marks of a hack actor. You will discover how to use your instincts and your spontaneous organic impulses to truly improvise with freedom and authenticity. It is the beginning of becoming an actor who works in a truly original and vivid way; an artist dedicated to craft.
“You will be challenged every day at Maggie Flanigan Studio. Charlie is going to push you and tell you exactly what your faults are and also what you are doing well. In many ways you need it in the beginning, and you will continue to need it later as well.”
“You will learn so much about yourself and the things you care about. There is a foundation that you are going to get here. You leave the studio feeling and knowing that you are an artist and really exploring now what that means to you and what you want to do.”
“Before I started at the Maggie Flanigan Studio, I had no idea that acting training was real. I did not have any foundation or technique. Acting is something that you have to take seriously. It is an actual craft with actual work that you need to put into it.”