The Meisner Technique: Living truthfully under imaginary circumstances
“Acting isn’t lying, it’s telling the deepest truth. The Sanford Meisner Technique is defined as the simple act of doing – of action borne on emotion, which takes place one honest moment at a time.” – Sanford Meisner
The Meisner Technique gives actors a systematic approach to their work through core exercises to achieve greater emotional freedom and versatility as well as rigorous use of imagination explored through character, text and scene work. Actors work to focus on truthful, moment-to-moment acting, creating greater emotional depth while maintaining ease and grace in performance. Much attention is given to collaboration with your scene partner, being present and responding truthfully, and in the moment, to the circumstances surrounding you. Teaching is in small groups in a supportive, non-judgmental, professional environment. We focus on eradicating unhelpful habits and honing your work to the commercial demands of the industry. The stages of the Meisner training (outlined below) deliver core skills, which actors absorb and develop as part of their ongoing personal process.
“Acting is fun. Don’t let that get around.” – Sanford Meisner
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The History of the Meisner Technique
The Meisner technique of acting was developed by the American theatre practitioner Sanford Meisner, born in Brooklyn in 1905.
The roots of Meisner’s work lie in the system developed by Konstantin Stanislavsky and his work with the Moscow Art Theatre where notable collaborators included Eugene Vakhtangov, Michael Chekhov and Anton Chekhov. The hallmark of this work was truthful simplicity, a dynamic shift in performance style at that time. In 1923 the Moscow Art Theatre toured in America, bringing the ground-breaking Stanislavsky work to audiences outside Russia.
At the end of their tour, members of the Moscow Art Theatre remained in America and trained a handful of artists including Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler, both founders of the Group Theatre created in 1931 to further develop Stanislavsky’s work,
Sanford Meisner was invited to join the Group Theatre at its inception and remained there until it closed in 1941. Meisner, Adler and Strasberg all continued to develop individual approaches and techniques based on the “system” of Stanislavsky. Following his work at the Group Theatre, Meisner went on to work as head of the acting program at New York City’s Neighborhood Playhouse. In 1970 Meisner underwent major throat surgery resulting in permanent damage to his voice. He continued to refine his technique and worked as both actor and acting teacher until shortly before his death in 1997.