The Meisner Technique
There are several types of acting "methods" or techniques. Each type has a slightly different approach or system. As an actor, it is important for you to research and get to know what kind you like and will work for you.
One of the well-known acting approaches is called the Meisner Technique. This is the type of technique taught at the Wayne Dvorak Acting Studio. The technique derives its name from a man named Sanford Meisner who developed this approach, which is rooted in many of the principles of the Stanislavsky System of Acting and the magic "if" -- how would I feel if I really were this person in this situation?
The Meisner Technique is a very thorough foundation of work. It teaches its students to "live truthfully under imaginary circumstances." The goal of the Meisner technique is to ultimately not look like acting because you aren't acting, your are just being authentically the character in a variety of situations as informed by your own unique perspective and voice. Much of the exercise work is improvisation-based to encourage you to find and set the thoughts and intentions behind the actions, rather than the actions themselves. You will learn to be real, specific, and make choices that are truthful and in the moment. This honesty in performance suits camera work especially well. And unlike some Method work, you will not need to "use" personal past traumas; Meisner emphasizes behaving believably in a fictional situation, allowing some professional safety when portraying your most complex and risqué roles. You can read about Sanford Meisner and his technique in the book Sandford Meisner On Acting, however our program will not be book-study based but rather exercise- and practice-based.
Famous people and movie stars who have studied the Meisner Technique include Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Jon Voight, Mary Steenburgen, David Mamet, Jeff Goldblum, Gregory Peck, Sydney Pollack, Mark Rydell, Tom Cruise, Kim Basinger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Grace Kelly.
When you’re working on a scene, you’re constantly trying to find the truthful essence of the scene written into its fabric. You learn to identify and utilize the emotional buttons in the scene that will naturally and instinctually trigger an emotional response. However, years of social behavior, personal baggage, and negative feedback often stand between us and accessing our natural, instinctual emotional response. The Meisner Technique teaches you how to access your fullest emotional range honestly, flexibly, and consistently. No more hiding behind phony, exaggerated tears or simply reciting dialogue with a "mood" or the "effect" of an emotion. No more worrying you can't repeat what you did in the audition room or in one exceptional take.
At the Wayne Dvorak Acting Studio, the Meisner Technique is taught through the Meisner Exercises and Scene Study. Mr. Dvorak has broken down the Meisner Exercises into seven specific levels which start in a very simple way and gradually become very complex. By the end of the full program, you will have a complete understanding of your own emotional range and point of view as well as the matching ability in all character work, for both comedy and drama.
What about Meisner "Repetitions"?
Oh, so you've heard of those, have you? Yes, the infamous Meisner "repetitions" are a fundamental exercise for Meisner Technique. They can look a little ridiculous at first.
But what you will find, is that in doing something as simple as repeating what you feel and what you observe over and over again you learn
To truly connect and listen to a scene partner
To get out of your own head
To understand your natural emotional changes and reactions without judgement
To discover your emotional "blindspots"
To become fluid and free in accessing all extremes of your emotions
To open up
You will be surprised at how many emotions you resist or judge internally without realizing it. And to truly become an unlimited actor, you have to learn to see and feel beyond that. Like doing physical drills as a professional athlete, these are emotional drills to get you flexible and strong in your own emotions.
Additionally, you will be surprised how many emotional changes you "force" because you aren't focusing on your partner and truly reacting to them. Ultimately, these repetitions rewire your brain and instincts into their most capable state for an actor.