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Well, it’s because the Meisner Technique is an actor’s best kept secret. James Gandolfini, Sam Rockwell, and Alison Janney are just few of the big names who consistently go back to the lessons they learned in their years of foundational training.
So why are you reading this now? There are probably many reasons which brought you to this point. You’re ready to train. You’re noticing blocks in your work. You’re trying to figure out what approach might be best for you. You’re googling “New York City Acting Classes” and realizing how important this choice will be to your craft. When considering an acting teacher, a studio, or a class, take into consideration the many ways you become the best actor you can be. Readiness, laser sharp listening, emotional availability, constant curiosity, and spontaneity are just a few of the hallmarks of Meisner training.
Why is it considered one of the most successful approaches to acting? One that actors go back to time and time again to refine their craft and distinguish themselves as better than the rest?
The Meisner Technique is a highly structured technique that starts at the same place for all students: at the beginning. There is no such thing as an “advanced” Meisner class. The technique guides you, over two years and 128 classes, from basic repetition to full character work. And we truly believe that no one can consider themselves a “Meisner trained actor” without going through all 128 classes, and then some.
Through constant practice – both in and outside of class – you develop solid, reliable artistic habits. The work becomes part of your muscle memory. It becomes inevitable. In the First Year, you can’t help but do solid good acting as yourself under imaginary circumstances because you’ve learned a set of tools and a process. You have made those a habit. Then, in second year, you are ready to begin character work.
Sanford Meisner used to say, ” The First Year is 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, you are like a painter – and start with a blank palette. Over the course of the First Year, you’re pallete fills up with authentic colors that live inside you: your joy, your rage, your sense of play. In the Second Year, you learn to paint portraits of other people – character work – while still using your own authentic inner life. And each character is a part of you. As Robert Duvall, himself a Meisner trained actor, said, “Character acting is you…bent.”
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. You will 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. At the end of the Second Year, you will have a complete set of tools and a process. You will be able to take a script – any script – and turn it into behavior. Behavior that is truthful, alive, imaginative, and meaningful. Behavior that simultaneously honors the writer and you as an artist.
How does all this sound to you? Good? We thought so. You may be ready to join the other successful actors who rely everyday on the rich foundational work that the Meisner work provides. And you have come to the right place. Reward your curiosity and start the conversation with us.