I get asked this question a lot about Meisner acting training and it’s true what you hear, every person you speak to will describe it to you differently, so mine will be in a long list of what it means to me.
I encountered this training a few years ago at the Actors Centre in London, great place to keep your skills up! There, I just kept hearing about Scott Williams, Impulse Theatre and his Meisner classes, some people didn’t like it, but most raved, quite often with the enigmatic line ‘You’re wearing a blue shirt’, then the person would espouse on how amazing this was, so I thought, strangely, I have got to try it and find out why saying, ‘You’re wearing a blue shirt’ would send people into accolades of joy and appreciation for an acting technique.
It was a week-long introduction class to Scott’s understanding of Meisner training, as he was 1 of Meisner’s students, but also, a student of Bill Ball, who had an equal and strong impact on Scott’s approach and interpretation to this technique.
Well, I went along for the week and it was like my world had been turned upside down and there it was going to stay and needed to. I was spinning from what I heard and knew it was just what I had needed and I had wanted in my approach to my work. Scott is a very positive, supportive and an ‘easy to use’ teacher (by this I mean, I always left feeling better, rather than some teaching I’ve experienced where my guts were pulled out, looked at, left on the floor and not put back together again), at least this is my opinion.
So after, doing this week, I was determined to sign up for his 2 year course – 1st year is just learning and working on the technique of Meisner, leading up to doing scenes at the end of the 1st year; the 2nd year is doing plays and using the techniques learned in the 1st year in the more practical situation of full-length plays.
For me that 2 year period changed my work, changed me and showed me how much more I could be doing to help me and my world through the work I do. That dedicationg to the slow, but necessary strengthening of my attention muscles, was what made me the more in the ‘moment’ performer I am now. I have had it said so many times since doing this course, what a confident performer I am, how energetic and exciting, because you just don’t know what is going to happen next. Just what you want people to say about how theatrical performances can come across and always be alive, just what I loved about great performances as a kid. I’ve learned to love whatever and whomever is in front of me and learn to work within the ‘given circumstances’ and not need to judge mine or others work with the ‘fine toothed’ comb which all my other training has taught me to be like – not a way that helped me at all, as I would just spend a lot of time judging mine and others work, rather than just doing it – hence feeding insecurities rather than building the confidence that people see in me today.
I feel very honoured and lucky to have been able to do the Meisner training that I have and if you want to find out more about Scott’s work and the Impulse theatre just click on the links. If you want to find out about the classes I’m leading for the month of August, but also continue year round in Brighton on this technique check out our Facebook page and the website.
Happy Meisnering and happy performing to all!
What’s your favourite acting technique and why?