There are different acting techniques taught in drama schools. This field is quite diverse, and the more you get involved, the more you will appreciate this. In today’s article, we will look at a distinct acting technique: Meisner acting.

What is Meisner acting?

Meisner acting is one of the fundamental pillars of modern acting. In case you haven’t heard about it, worry not. This technique is less popular than the other schools of acting, such as classical. However, it is taught in all drama schools in the world.

Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.

Sanford Meisner

History of Meisner acting technique

This acting technique was named after Sanford Meisner, one of the most respected actors of all time. Meisner worked with Lee Strasberg and Steller Adler in 1930 to establish the Group Theater in New York, which is home to several famous actors (this is where actors such as Marylin Monroe got their amazing skills).

Meisner, together with the two counterparts, played a significant role in redefining Method Acting, having studied the Stanislavsky’s approach in acting. Meisner wanted something different and distanced himself from Method acting. He later formed his own technique-The Meisner Technique. This technique was therefore developed to help actors unlock their potential.

What is the difference between Meisner and Method Acting?

Meisner, Lee, and Adler formed the Group Theater, which taught method acting. You must, therefore, be wondering whether the Meisner technique is a replica of method acting. Well, here are a few things that you need to note: Method acting uses intense means to bring out a character. Therefore, it requires an actor to dive deep into his or her emotional reserves and embody the character. Method actors make use of memory and emotional recollection, going to extreme lengths to bring out a character naturally and delightfully.

Meisner technique, on the other hand, relies on external sources to bring out a character. Actors depend on their fellow actors’ behavior or actions. Therefore, this style of acting makes use of improvisation, allowing actors to come up with ideas and practices while on stage. Most of the performance in Meisner acting is spontaneous, arising from the behaviors of the actors while on stage.

Why should you learn the Meisner technique?

You are probably wondering why you need a grasp of the Meisner technique while you can memorize your lines and rehearse them every day. Well, here is something that you need to know. Meisner allows you to connect to the imaginary world better than any technique. You will learn how to be a different person altogether and excellently portray your character. One of the most important things that you need to do while on stage is to move your audience, which you won’t achieve if you connect to the character.

Meisner acting allows actors to unlock their potential. Some of the most famous actors who learnt the method include Robert Duvall of The Godfather, who was taught by Sanford Meisner. You can easily see the spontaneity and authenticity from his performances, which moves and let audiences get lost in them.

Other actors such as Glenn Close and Kyra Sedgwick appreciate Duval and his method of acting, which they call natural and authentic. At one point, they referred to his role in The Stone Boy, where they featured as husband and wife. This acting method also helps you come up with vivid and real performances that you cannot normally achieve. You can easily plan your acting before going on stage, but what happens on stage depends on you and your ability to be creative and spontaneous.

Meisner is a simple technique, but it is quite remarkable. It allows you to get drowned in your emotions and react in ways that you can never imagine. It will enable actors to think and improvise, which is the fun part of the craft.

Meisner technique exercises

There are a few exercises that you need to know that will help you improve and master the Meisner technique. One of these is the Repetition Exercise, which also doubles up as the most famous. You will need another actor to participate. The Repetition exercise requires two actors to face each other and make observations about each other. It is a more relaxed and straightforward exercise that you will enjoy. All you must do is repeat what the other person has said and adding a little information to it.

It’s more of repeating the same thing the other person says. If the person says that your eyes are closed, you can either repeat that or add something that relates to that. I know that you are wondering why you must do all this. As you repeat the other person’s sentences, you observe the person’s behavior and not concentrate too much on the text. It requires that you focus on the act and the gestures of the person.

Meisner focuses on the reality of doing, a concept that believes you get to unlock a different meaning to a scene when you learn how to respond to fellow performers’ behaviors or acts. The repetition exercise may seem off when it is your turn to repeat what your fellow actors say, but you will realize how well it impacts your acting.

Does this method dwell so much on the script?

You have probably learnt about classical acting, which focuses on the skill to the end. The truth is that memorizing lines is a crucial part of your job as an actor’s job and you should perfect it. However, this technique dictates that you do not put all your focus on rehearsing on the delivery of the lines.

Actors are therefore encouraged to be authentic in their delivery and give out fresh and truthful performances.

Meisner acting focuses on how actors react to fellow performers. Instead of following the script, this method of acting compliments the script to bring out a whole new performance to a scene.

Actors Takeaway:
meisner acting technique

There are different types of acting that you can learn. If you want to deliver authentic and powerful performances, learning Meisner acting might be a good start. Luckily enough, this acting style is taught in drama schools all over the world.


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