I've studied all of that and more during my BFA, and to be completely honest, while they can be helpful, *personally* I didn't find them that necessary. Albeit, it really was interesting to learn, research/write about and actually practice all of that; pure Chekhov and Grotowzki exercises, and especially Meyerhold's Biomechanics etudes were my favorites and I was actually pretty good at them. I enjoyed those a whole lot. We even had a known Russian teacher come over from Russia for a long masterclass, where I served as a translator. Alexander Technique was another favorite of mine, which is something you'd want to do on an ongoing basis as an actor.
Some students went to Paris with one of our teachers to study Lecoq in greater depth, which is something I couldn't do; that could be helpful in a way, but again, I don't believe is necessary. Among the more obscure stuff, I also really disliked Alba-Emoting Technique. It worked, and it's good to have this in my toolbox, but I'm definitely not a fan of the approach and it will always be my last resort. Also, for comedic purposes, we did quite a bit of circus, which I also hated.
I'm trying to make a point here that not everything people study in drama schools (and all that less well known, mystical European stuff) is always necessary or even good for actors, but then again - it might just be that I'm less talented or not well educated to "get" the value of ALL those practices. I've always felt more connected to the theory of Meisner Technique anyway, which sadly nobody teaches in England.
Just my two cents.
On a second note, I would like to say thanks to TT, gyokoren, Amo, and others who shared their Meisner experiences here. AWESOME stuff!
Wow, you're the first person I've seen on this board to say you studied Alba-Emoting.
Earlier this year, some teacher from New York was giving free seminars about it and doing intensives while she was in LA.
I wasn't that impressed because it seemed more about generating emotions, rather than allowing emotions to come out as a by-product of reacting to something.
Precisely. And that's exactly what it is.
I pointed out to my course mates the fact that normally you would want those emotions to come naturally during the scene/from text rather than force them through breathing, but nobody has taken my observation seriously. I didn't have the confidence then, nor the necessary knowledge, to argue this with the teacher.
The tool can come in handy though, and I can confirm that it does work in terms of generating "emotions".
Doesn't Harold Guskin, acting coach to Glenn Close and the late,great James Gandolfini teach the same technique in his book Stop Acting, or some such similar title.
As I remember, the recommended practice is something like this: pant quickly from your gut, or diaphragm, while focusing on the emotion or state you want. For me, that's a useful trick for rehearsal but if you try to deploy it in performance kinda backfires.
I don't remember that part. Been a while since I read it though, so maybe? I know he does suggest when breaking down a script to inhale, say a few words, and then exhale and see what emotions and feelings come from the text. I've actually found this pretty useful.
I was speaking more to the availability of those techniques in the New York studios as opposed LA since Rose has already said she doesn't want to go to college, but it is definitely true that you learn some things in drama school that don't resonate or won't be relevant to anything you will do in the real world. I'm like Audrey Hepburn's hipster grandchild or Natalie Portman meets Winona Ryder at Bonnaroo, so how often am I going to need to know how to safely whack somebody with a fucking quarterstaff??? haha However, that can also be a strength in that it backs you into a corner and forces you to learn things you would not have chosen on your own and those things can sometimes surprise and lead to discoveries. Mileage may vary, but it was my experience.
For me, it was the Meisner component that surprised more than anything else. Nothing that I knew about the technique attracted me at all other than it came with some nice catch phrases that were impossible to disagree with. I even called it "Torture Technique" or "Meiznuh Toatchuh" while I was learning it even though I saw obvious growth from some of my classmates who were having huge breakthroughs. I was a professional level dancer before I started acting and the way I had been trained in that art was to really tune in to my partner or what it was that I was physically doing to tell the story so the first year felt like a big nothingburger except that it included verbiage and I think I really grew from it more than I at first realized. It wasn't until third year when we were putting what we had learned into constant practice in rehearsal and performance that I realized it was what the craft mainly boiled down to for me.
If I knew then what I know about myself now and got to design my own conservatory, it would entail Meisner, Linklater voice, accents and dialects, Alexander, Lecoq, basic combat, and proper camera and mic technique from the beginning with lots of in house experience using them. I could have learned aspects of the other things that I actually use in short workshops. The thing is, some of my classmates would tell you something completely different and there is no way I could have known that before I started. It's why I think it is so important for newbie actors to experiment with a lot of different things. Somebody that used to post here a lot had a great Bruce Lee quote in his signature line. Let's see if I can find it. It was Scoobings. Here it is.
The whole thing in six months? Any beginner who could really digest the whole thing in that time is much more talented than me. I bow to you! haha
They teach most of this movement and mask stuff you guys are talking about at Stella Adler, LA.
I think you could just take those courses without the acting technique classes if you wanted to but I'm not sure. I had some of that back home and it was very freeing, but I wouldn't say it made me "rangy." But different strokes if you are into it.
If we are to be sticklers, I believe it says pretty clearly and in bold letters on the PW website that:
Not that I think that there is anything inherently wrong about that. Especially not since I found that I myself am more cross-pollinated than I would have thought before I read Esper's new book.
Fact: Mr. Meisner wasn't commuting back and forth between LA and NY, he was sick and moved to LA to avoid the NY winters. Bob Carnegie and Sandy Meisner had maintained a correspondence between them for years prior to Sandy's arrival so when Sandy needed a place to conduct his classes in LA to begin, he held those classes at the Playhouse West studio on Lankershim. Then, Sandy took his classes to The Actor's Workout up the street and finally to the Sanford Meisner Center until his passing.
FACT: The name on the building cannot teach you to act. Sanford Meisner is not in the room to tell you what needs fixing or how to fix it. Sandy's dead. I was at the funeral, he's gone.
FACT: Everyone who teaches at Playhouse West has spent at least 4 years there, most have been there 10-20 years.
FACT: Playhouse West is the right training for people who will never quit. People who intend to be actors for the rest of their lives. NOT the folks who show up for 6 months to "give acting a shot." Two years of training is NOTHING in the life of an artist. Ask a dancer or a professional musician how many hours a week they train and practice.
FACT: Playhouse West has been successfully training newcomers for 33 years and probably has the highest percentage of working actors as alumni of any acting school anywhere.
Scott Caan, Ashley Judd, James Franco, Jim Parrack, Mike DeLorenzo, even Oleg Taktarov. Hundreds of working actors have Playhouse West on their resume's.
YES, 20 years ago the training was harder at Playhouse West. That's when I studied and taught there. I kept Oleg Taktarov in the Beginning level class for over two years. The results were that on his FIRST audition he was cast in a starring role with Robert DiNero. He's done TWO films with DiNero.
Today, the standard remains the same but you can't be that hard on the kinds of students who show up in Hollywood and feel entitled to their Oscars because they deigned to arrive.
Now, I'm not there now, but I know all the people of whom are spoken so glibly and callously and I will say this to the the bitter and disenfranchised; When they have accomplished something THEN they have the right to criticize.
Acting is the most competitive business in the world. If you are not over-prepared don't even think of competing for the top slots or even the lowliest.
If someone wanted to play in the NFL and took a couple of two day "intensives" or a workshop here and there, or had made the staggering commitment to 6 WEEKS of training, then showed up for a "Try Out", they'd be laughed out of the stadium.
Only in Hollywood do newbies expect a $20million dollar paycheck without working for it.
That's my opinion. The point of distinction between mine and yours may be that I'm speaking from personal experience and am armed with facts.
I hope that helps.
FACT: The above is why PW is no longer anything but a typical LA actor mill. At least it is cheap so students get what they pay for.
I don't even like Meisner, but at least some of the other studios like Alderson and Mestnik have not bent to that and still keep to the old school ways. My experience? Seeing the badly trained fruit from that tree. Some of those actors could have been at least decent with a good kick in the ass that they did not get at PW.
Past glories don't count.
I am just about to finish up the first year with Elizabeth Mestnick and I really love the place and was not sure about taking second year mainly because of money, but now I am having second thoughts. But I am also very interested in training with Alderson, any suggestions? Should I finish out the program or maybe see if I can switch over to Alderson?
Why would you want to go to a different teacher and start the two year program over if you like Elizabeth? She is one of the best teachers in LA. Paying for a third year that will be what you have already done with a different teacher doesn't make any sense.
My post may have not been very clear. I meant transferring over and seeing if he would let me start the second year if he saw I was capable. It is not that I don't like her, I am just curious about his style of teaching. I may have to put second year on hold for a year no matter where I decide to go.
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