The late Sanford Meisner is a film legend who rocked the world during his days. He and a group of other actors, including Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg established Group Theatre, which become very instrumental in developing method acting. Meisner would eventually distance himself from method acting to develop his own acting technique: the Meisner technique, which requires the actor to work externally, by focusing on another actor. This aims at making a film scene more authentic to the viewers.
Why Use the Meisner Technique?
Is it not easier for an actor to memorise their lines, rehearse them, and articulate them just as rehearsed? Well, not really. Actors need to live in an imaginary world sometimes, and they need to act as though they were a completely different person. This is where Meisner technique comes in handy, as it throws actors into a new world.
Types of Exercises Involved in Meisner Acting
The most celebrated exercise invented by Meisner is known as the Repetition Exercise, where two actors make observations about each other- it doesn’t matter how banal the observations may be. It involves repeating what the other actor says, with additions to it. For instance:
Yes, I’m standing
Certainly, it may look ridiculous, especially at first, but by repeating each other’s statements, the actors focus more on each other’s gestures and behaviour than on the text. When Meisner talks of “reality of doing,” this is exactly what he refers to. Of course, learning lines is a key part of acting, but Meisner encourages his followers not to add inflection to the lines and to avoid rehearsing the line delivery.