The Meisner Approach
What is Meisner Training anyway?
That takes quite some time to answer, and Wendy will be happy to discuss this subject in your interview. While Meisner does base the training on some of Stanislavski's theories about acting, his technique is not grounded in sense memory or other aspects of "the Method.” Meisner is concerned with taking on the imaginary circumstances in such a way that you are not pretending to be a character or trying to imitate natural life, but rather you are actually living under the imaginary circumstances of the script in a truthful and emotionally honest way. It emphasizes instinct over intellect, and while you will learn to work within a director's concept, you won't spend as much time talking about the acting as actually doing it.
We refer you to Sanford Meisner's book On Acting or the history of The Group Theater as related by Harold Clurman in his book The Fervent Years as the best sources to learn more about the work.
Meisner Technique Training
First Year Curriculum
We divide the work into three levels — Tech I, II and III. Actors with prior Meisner experience can speak to Wendy about placement in more advanced levels of the training, but most actors begin with Tech I.
Tech I - Actors learn the basics of the Meisner Approach through a series of highly structured exercises emphasizing intuition, listening, authenticity and specificity over more intellectual, character-driven approaches. Students learn to stop pretending and to bring themselves to their work. The result is a truthful, emotionally honest and compelling performance.
Tech II - Actors learn emotional preparation, a process of developing one's emotional life without drawing on actual past experiences. The foundation acquired in Tech I supports actors as they learn a more refined and emotionally connected approach to placing themselves deeply in the imaginary circumstances of a scene. Students begin to experience their feelings the way they do in life — freely and spontaneously, without self-consciousness.
Tech III - Actors work on a variety of scripts and texts with different styles of writing and different acting challenges. They learn processes for strengthening their connection with any script they are given. Actors also work on physical adjustments (sometimes referred to as "impediments"), such as accents and other physical changes that are appropriate for a given role.
Second Year Curriculum
Audition/Interview Technique: Actors learn how to face the challenges of the industry by practicing their audition skills in a series of mock auditions and interviews. Thoughtful, precise and significant feedback is provided throughout the term. Gradually, the dreaded audition challenge is greeted with optimism, enthusiasm and confidence. Our students leave understanding how to interview with confidence and grace, perform cold sides with conviction, and prepare monologues and self-tapes in a manner that is professional, memorable and competitive.
Additional second year work includes advanced scene classes, quick study classes, show reel production and performance work with the Ward Theatre Company Lab.