Forget Therapy! Try The Meisner Technique Instead.

I’ve been to many many acting workshops, classes, conservatories, etc. BUT none of them have helped me break through like studying the Meisner Technique with The Alan Gordon Studio. WHY? Continue reading….

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Finding the right acting coach is like finding the right therapist, like finding the right therapist is like dating – you have to find the one that suits YOU best. Also, you HAVE TO COMMIT to it! No ifs or buts, otherwise save your time or money. Any good therapist will tell you that you have to attend therapy sessions at least once a week in order for it to “work” and that you will have to attend the sessions for at least 6 month to up to a year to see progress. I know, because I have gone to therapy myself and interviewed with several therapist before I found THE ONE. Well the same goes for training with a good acting coach in order for you to become a better actor.

The Alan Gordon Studio

I’ve only been training with Alan Gordon for 4 months, and I already have learned SO MUCH. I go to class down in the West Village once a week for 3.5 hours, and then some of the students get together to practice outside of class. The classes are small and Alan is very hands on and obsessed (aka passionate) with The Meisner Technique. He has been working with the acting technique for 25+ years. We are mixed with more seasoned actor students so the less “seasoned” actors can learn from one another. He also gives us recommendations and many different examples from films and other movie actors.

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Alan Gordon (Acting Coach + An Actor Once Upon A Time)

The Technique Works Like This:

The Meisner Technique has 4 different levels plus there are exercises we do called “Activities”. For the most part, we work with a partner doing exercises that are very repetitive. For example, my partner says what he first noticed when he first saw me, like “you have a blue shirt”. So, then I would repeat what he said exactly how he said it, and then he would repeat it to me exactly how I said it to him, vice versa, etc. They are repetitive because the point of some of the exercises is to get us to LISTEN better to one another. After I passed that level, I went to another level where both I say to my partner what I FEEL or noticed, NOT WHAT I THINK. There is difference! This level has been very challenging for me because I have trained myself in the past to THINK before I speak because I have always been accused of saying what I feel and think impulsively. So, basically with these exercises I’ve had to unlearn what I have learned for a lot of my life. The technique instead embraces impulsiveness, drama, vulnerability, and high stakes. If I am too proud to say what I truly feel during the exercise, then I am considered a boring actor to my audience because there is no drama. The exercise is as if I am riding a wave of emotions, noticing them at the present moment, and speaking about them out loud and with out any shame to my partner that is sitting or standing in front of me. BUT, there are rules to the exercises, like, I can’t ask my partner questions, no quantify feelings (example: “I feel a little overwhelmed” or “I sorta feel like this”), never say the word “Try or trying”, it can’t be a conversation, don’t be polite, and other rules which I have more to learn about.

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Stella Adler used the Meisner Technique.

How Is The Meisner Technique Like Therapy?

Reason why I believe The Meisner Technique is like therapy is because in order to become GOOD with the technique, I had to be super authentic with my partner during the exercise. In order to be authentic, I had to be very honest with myself about the way I felt at that moment AND I had to intuitively blurt out what I noticed without giving it any thought about WHY I even said what I did. Sometimes I wanted to censor myself because I wasn’t liking what I was feeling, nor was I liking what I thought about the feeling. But, I wasn’t allowed to think about what I was saying because that would mean I was failing at the exercise by breaking the rules. It was hard listening to myself and getting a reaction from my partner while what I felt tended to be more on the negative side. For example, I felt frustrated and angry a lot because it’s what I was feeling at the moment! I couldn’t lie about it, I didn’t want to admit this all the time because I felt it wasn’t positive. I realized I felt this way because I was very uncomfortable feeling vulnerable or open. The technique was forcing me to dig deep and define what I was feeling at the moment. It’s a very powerful exercise and super therapeutic.

Class Structure

Students pay a monthly fee and have to commit long term in order to be part of the class. The fee is less than most acting schools, and if the student misses class, she or he gets to make it up with out any extra charges – student gets a credit. HOWEVER, students are required to pay the monthly fee even if they won’t be showing up for a whole entire month.

The class meets Tuesdays from 7pm – 10:30pm, or Saturdays from 12pm – 3:30pm if it’s The Meisner Technique. Alan also teaches a scene study class on Wednesdays, but he only allows students that he feels can be moved up and understand The Meisner Technique very well.

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