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  • Writer's pictureActors Academy Finland

Sandford Meisner

Updated: Sep 5, 2019

Sanford Meisner - 1905-97 - was one of the most influential actor-training practitioners of the 20th century. The Meisner technique emerged as part of the realist, modern theatre of the century and extended its influence throughout the century within various forms of postmodern performance.

What is the meaning of this?

Postmodern theatre could be said to be based on semiotic understanding of the drama. In other words, semiotics allow for the “deconstruction” of traditional interpretations, but rather leave everything open to translation. In this style of theatre, the “repertory actor” is replaced with an actor that is an artist alongside all other elements of theatre eg. music, set design and so on.

The Meisner Technique aims to awaken the 'artist': independent, collaborative and original.

In the current changes and developments in the arts field, it is then only fitting that practitioners (actors, directors, writers...) are encouraged to find ways of being true to their own artistry. As kids we allow ourselves the complete freedom of expression, yet as we grow up we build up these walls that both limit us, as well as our relationships - on and off stage.

How, why?

Back in the early days, in the 1930s to be more precise, Meisner became a founding member of the Group Theatre in New York, alongside well-known practitioners such as Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman who had all been students of Stanislavsky. Stanislavsky might be a name you have heard before? He has been viewed as the forefather of modern acting, with his deep and detailed inquiry for psychological behaviour. Meisner was also inspired and influenced by the System, so it comes as no surprise that Sanford Meisner grew such an audience for his techique. However, he opposed the increasing emphasis on the intellectual and the “inward looking” exercises, and rather wanted to highlight the reality of doing.

I recommend reading Meisner's book "Meisner on Acting" (1987), in it he says:

“Don’t do anything unless something happens to make you do it and what you do doesn’t depend on you; it depends on the other fellow”


So let's start trusting ourselves, our inner artists and our fellow beings; it is very much worth the journey! (cliché I know...)


If you are interested to know more about the technique, try some of upcoming our workshops or our one-year training program. Check out the curriculum, training dates and details here, or contact the office and ask more. We are still taking in a few applications for the Training starting in January 2020.

- Anna Tavaila

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