First Week

We have completed the first week of school at Rutgers for the MFA acting program. Things are going well and we seem to be settling in quite well. My twelve other classmates are great! We work and get along great. The family is shaping up.

As for classes, we are taking a Meisner class (acting), two different movement classes, Voice, Speech, Combat, and an academic class Introduction to Gradate Studies. Along with these classes we are required to perform in the Director’s class on in as needed basis.

In the Meisner class we have begin our independent activities. There are in the simplest forms. They are to have three things: 1. difficulty 2. meaning 3. time limit. This activities takes us out of our head and into our activities. On top of this our partner comes in and begins to repeat, adding an obstacles and therefore creating the basis of a scene. A classmate found an article online that explains what we are doing:

“I’m quite biased toward The Meisner Technique of Acting for one very good reason: it works! It would be impossible to teach you the technique in an article, but if I could share one extremely valuable point that any actor or actress regardless of training or experience to date could take away with them it would be this. Put all your attention on your partner!

Putting all your attention on your working partner results in listening and answering, living moment to moment, and hence living truthfully. This is what makes acting magnetic and riveting. Great acting is about listening and answering. It’s like tennis match. Hitting the ball back and forth. And to be able to do this your must take the attention off your self otherwise your holding the ball in your hand and there is no game. And that is boring! The Meisner Technique of Acting is far more in depth than this one point but if you leave your self alone and don’t do anything unless the other person makes you do it you can improve your acting immediately.

What I mean by this is don’t ACT! Don’t put on a show, don’t behave in a certain way or do something because you think the audience will appreciate it only do something if the other person in the scene with you makes you do it.That way all your attention is on the other person and you react according to what they are giving you. Are they ignoring you? What’s your point of view about that? Then communicate that point of view to them. Are they smothering you? What’s your point of view about that? Then communicate that point of view to them. Are they manipulating you? What’s your point of view about that? Then communicate that point of view to them. Go to their BEHAVIOR.

The Meisner Technique of Acting is all about reading BEHAVIOR not about what words are written on a page. So go to the behavior of your working partner and give them your point of view. If you do your homework, that is understanding your given circumstances, who your are, where you are, what’s just happened, what your fighting for in this scene, what the stakes are, who this person in this scene is to you, then all you have to do is come on stage or onto set or into the audition room and leave your circumstances at the door because they are now in you and simply place all your attention on your partner whilst doing your doing. This is one acting tip from the Meisner Technique of Acting that is guaranteed to improve your skills and abilities as an actor.”

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    4 thoughts on “First Week

    1. arnold

      That’s really interesting. I’m not an actor so the Meisner thing is pretty new to me. I’ve written a few church skits though where we’re usually tyring to set up or convey some point/message. How important to the Meisner school deal is keeping true to the written line?

    2. dennis

      The idea is that that a scene and play should be led by the relationships of the characters and not the plot of the story. The truth lies under the text, not the text itself. With that said, text is very important. The goal is to live truthly under imaginary circumstances. The imaginary circumstances of the script, set, and blocking does not change from performance to performance.

    3. Kai Martin

      Hey Dennis,

      What are your movement classes like? Are you doing any Williamson Technique and/or Laban? That’s what they teach here at Esper. I’m about to finish my first week, as well. So far, so good. I’m jealous that you get to completely immerse yourself into acting and not have to worry about much else, but we all have our own path. Good luck with everything, and be sure to keep us posted! 🙂

    4. dennisbaker

      They did Williams Technique in the past. They are moving away from that. We have two movement classes. One consists of basic dance moves combined with pilates work. It is a definite workout. The other is with Felix Ivanov. Felix Ivanov is Russian and trained at the Vaktangov School in Moscow. Felix’s approach deals with balance, flexibility, tempo, rhythm, spontaneity, the physical expression of character response to issues of conflict.

      It has been great to be able to fully immerse myself in the program. It has been a roll coaster so far, but I am truly learning what is means for my body to be an instrument. Let me know how things are going on your end…

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