Sanford Meisner and The Meisner Technique
Who was SANFORD MEISNER?
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.
“My approach is based on bringing the actor back to his emotional impulses and to acting that is firmly rooted in the instinctive. It is based on the fact that all good acting comes from the heart, as it were, and that there’s no mentality to it.”
– Sanford Meisner
WHAT IS THE MEISNER TECHNIQUE?
Sanford Meisner defined acting as “living truthfully under given 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.
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.
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.