As part of my approach to directing Bug we have, as a team, been exploring the Meisner technique and looking at how we can incorporate his approach into our rehearsal process.
Some of our Fundit rewards include a 2 hour workshop on the techniques we explore for rehearsal, and this workshop will focus primarily on on Meisner’s teachings and the value we are getting from them.
The workshop will be suitable for those with acting experience and without – all welcome!
When I first read about Sanford Meisner’s repetition exercises I was extremely sceptical, the book I was reading at the time wasn’t particularly good, and on paper (and ill explained) it was impossible to understand the value to an actor of standing in a room repeating what someone is saying to you.
However the author of the book I was reading was so enthused about them that I brought them into a practise session I was doing at the time with Eoin from Clinic Media.
When we tried the simple exercise it’s value did indeed become apparent almost immediately and it encouraged me to seek out more info on Meisner. There are many approaches to acting, and many techniques to help you improve as an actor, but the Meisner technique is the one that has resonated with me most; this was what I had been searching for as an actor, and as a director it is proving just as invaluable.
Meisner felt that actors had two main problems – they didn’t listen and were too self conscious. His technique builds on simple exercises to combat these two issues, and helps actors develop a truthful and responsive way of performing.
The more we explore Meisner, the more apparent his genius becomes. His devotion to simplicity is inspiring and frees the actor to focus on the vital elements of performance. Other techniques I explored sounded good on paper, but in practise they often resulted in overthinking in performance – Meisner had a plaque in his studio of a quote from Joseph Conrad:
Thinking is the great enemy of perfection
If you have heard the advice ‘get out of your head’ but been unsure how to achieve it, Meisner is the man for you.
I will leave the rest of my worshipping of Meisner for the workshop, but I will leave you with two more quotes – the first is his definition of acting:
Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances
And the second quote:
Acting is easy, it just takes years to learn.
If you would like to learn more about this technique and the impact it can have on a production, please consider funding our project:
See below for a documentary on Meisner in 7 parts on YouTube: