The Meisner technique is a reliable, practical approach to acting that solves the immediate needs of today’s actor – connecting to your emotional truth and your scene partner, easy and safe access to your emotions for multiple takes and long runs, and the development of confidence to trust your instincts.
Sanford Meisner was an American teacher, actor and director. He was one of the founding members of The Group Theatre (along with Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg and Harold Clurman), all of whom went on to revolutionise actor training in the 20th Century.
Meisner defines acting as “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” He believed that an actor should never be manipulated or negatively impacted to be able to act – instead, he aimed for solid, organic truth, rooted firmly in instinct.
How does the technique work?
The cornerstone of the technique is an exercise called ‘repetition.’ Repetition consists of a series of exercises to train an actor to discover their instinctive impulses, develop the ability to observe, respond and to live truthfully, moment to moment.
Who is Sanford Meisner?
Notable Meisner trained actors include; Allison Janney, Jeff Goldblum, Diane Keaton, Steve McQueen, Robert Duvall, David Mamet, Gregory Peck, Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Mary Steenburgen, Illeana Douglas, Christopher Lloyd and Alec Baldwin.
Who is Erica?
It finally came in the form of Scott Williams and his approach to Meisner at The Impulse Company in London. I trained on his 1-year course and 2 years thereafter. Scott mentored me to teach his approach to the work, and I’ve never looked back.
All of a sudden, I was free! I could move my body on stage without feeling awkwardly ‘blocked’, my emotions flowed freely and truthfully, and I connected to other actors in ways that had never happened before. My confidence and trust in the work propelled me into continuous employment, joyful interactions with every actor I worked with and finally, a solid, joyful craft that I could rely on.
I thrive on empowering actors to find truth in their work with ease, positivity and the principle of ‘do no harm’.
Erica is the Head of Operations and Training in Melbourne for The Impulse Company Australia, where she delivers their modular, year-long Meisner acting classes in Melbourne, advanced drop-ins as well as drama teaching positions at various dance and performing arts institutions across Victoria.
After training at drama school (*cough) 20 years ago, I was left with what I felt were very few answers to the problems I was having.
How do I rely on my instincts to act truthfully, and have a reliable technique that I trust will enable me to do the job every time?
I was a naturally instinctive actress and the hours of analysis, Stanislavski approaches (along with many others) of actioning, defining super-objectives did not work easily for me, and “method”-related work left me confused and cold. I spent years in classes trying to find the answers to my question.