Meisner Acting II takes all the foundational work of first year in Meisner Acting I as a basis for learning to start to create characters and work on advanced scripts and interpretation. Character acting is the highest form of acting. Sanford Meisner used to say, ” The first year was about putting money in the bank, and second year is about learning to spend it wisely. ” Another way to conceive of this is to imagine that in the first year, each actor is like a painter – and starts with a blank palette.
Over the course of the first year, the actor, through their explorations, fills that palette with their unique colors – their meanings, their feelings, their imaginations. The second year is about painting portraits of other people – but with their colors. So that each character is a version of the individual actor – and therefore, a unique interpretation which honors the playwright’s vision, and our responsibility to tell the story – while staying true to each actor’s unique idea for the part. In the second year, we develop many ways to create a character which allow the actor to transform themselves, including adopting a different point of view, various additions such as speech work, accents, physical work including pain, drugs and alcohol, sensory work and imitation of other people from daily life as character studies.
The work then explores challenging scripts from the dramatic canon, including work by Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams, Jean Anouilh, Sam Shepard, Arthur Miller, and Maria Irene Fornes. We also work with other tools Meisner developed, including exploring the characters in Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, and learning how to craft moments by creating dramatic interpretations of non-theatrical material such as Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes.
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