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Meisner

If you hang around base camp long enough, you’ll start to hear actors talking about the Meisner technique. It seems to have replaced Method acting as the go-to acting fad.

Near as I can tell, Meisner is a series of rehearsal practices designed to make the performer look like as big of an ass as possible. Things like rehearsing the scene, but only saying gibberish instead of actual dialogue, or playing a scene as the opposite gender.

Each technique seems crazier than the last. “I need seven bananas and a unicycle. I’m going to ride the unicycle around my trailer, juggling one-handed, while whistling my dialogue. It’s a Meisner technique.”

Or, “I need four copies of the script, one to balance on each hand and foot, while I’m standing on my head and saying only the pauses between words. It’s a Meisner thing.”

Or, “I need three pre-op transexual concubines. One will whisper the nouns into my right ear, the second will whisper verbs into my left, while the third goes down on me, spelling out the adjectives and adverbs with his/her tongue.”

“What about prepositions, articles, and conjunctions?”

“Oh, I already have a sea turtle, thanks.”

Method acting is basically remembering a time when you went through a similar emotional experience as the character, then trying to relive that when doing the scene. Or, if you’ve never done anything like the character, then going out and trying to experience life the way they lived it.

Can't you hear me yell-a? You're puttin' me through Hell-a! Stella! STELLA!
Marlon Brandon actually bought a streetcar, and christened it "Desire." Then he got really, really drunk.

I’m pretty sure this is what we all thought acting was, anyway. I mean, you have to take classes for this? I think Meisner is an attempt to convince the rest of us that acting is more complicated than remembering your lines and playing pretend.

It’s a little bit overkill. You could say an electrician’s job is to plug in lights and point them at actors. While it’s technically true, everyone knows there’s way more to it than that.

The same is true of acting. Meisner is just overcompensating.

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15 Responses

  1. wooowwwww you really have not done your research. None of what you have described above is Meisner technique. It really isn’t anything. When you go out to write an article on something actually LOOK UP what you’re writing about, don’t just write “gibberish” that you grabbed from thin air. Jessica’s description is a very blanket one but also very accurate, much more so than your’s

        1. You left out the context.

          You’re right, I was definitely not joking around or exaggerating. What I wrote in this post is definitely the literal truth of what I believe. Thank you for your correction, which was totally useful.

          When you read the totality of that, it’s is pretty obviously sarcasm.

          It’s a joke, dude. Simmer down.

          This comment was written several months later. Its terseness should make it clear.

  2. Hmmm…you don’t really have to faintest idea on what Meisner technique is, actually.
    The technique is about living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.
    Unless the actor you’re referring to in your blog is preparing for a role as a circus performer then the juggling, balancing and other nonsense you describe is certainly not Meisner.

    1. You’re right, I was definitely not joking around or exaggerating. What I wrote in this post is definitely the literal truth of what I believe. Thank you for your correction, which was totally useful.

      1. No need to be an asshole. I was just pointing out that what you saw the actors rehearsing (using jibberish instead of using the real words) was definitely not Meisner. Meisner has elements of method in it actually. It also teaches the actor to take the focus off of themselves and put it on the other actor in the scene. Action based on reaction. Giving a truthful response to what you’re seeing.
        I’m trying to shed some light on what Meisner is.

  3. Preach! As an actor who has studied and sometimes employs The Method allow me to say that you are 1. Hilarious and 2. Spot on.

    It’s dumb. Most acting techniques are for actors who don’t have or don’t trust their innate technique. Sometimes it helps but so does two Emergen-C’s.

    We have the easiest job on set and only a tiny fraction of us will admit that. Fellow actors, do what you have to do to “get there” but if you disrupt any crew persons flow you are failing.

  4. Dear Anonymous Production Assistant,

    I’m unsure as to the exact point you are making in this blog entry. Could you perhaps enlighten me on the following questions?

    1) You say “…[You’re] pretty sure [Method acting] is what we all thought acting was…” Are you saying you’ve never heard of other techniques? That the Method (which originated in the 1930s) is the only technique actor’s had used up until Meisner?

    2) You seem to conclude that “…Meisner is just overcompensating…” by using “…a series of rehearsal practices…crazier than the last.” The focus of your blog seems to be on Independent Activities. If so, your examples are quite extreme and I wonder, do you understand the ideology behind them, i.e. Independent Activities?

    Looking forward to your reply.

    Regards,

    Matt

  5. Huh. I didn’t know there was anything other than Method.

    When starving yourself and living as a coal miner isn’t enough, I guess…

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