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Summer Training

Mar 09 2018

Show up and train hard this summer. Act better come fall. Our eighth annual Summer Intensives start June 4th. 6-weeks of Meisner or 6-weeks of Chekhov. Or 6-weeks of both! Early registration incentive until May 1. 


The "Perfect" Monologue

Mar 02 2018

We're halfway through our yearly monologue workshop, so naturally I've been thinking a lot about monologue auditions.

Most actors hate 'em. I'm tempted to say, for good reason.

Instead, let me say this: Get over it! 

Now, here's what to keep in mind.

Life, that's the first and essential thing.

The creative production of a focused inner life turned out. That's the actor's absolute obligation.

Truthful, emotional, believable, compelling life. Anything more is gravy. (Not that we don't like gravy - we do - but the meal is the meat, not the gravy!)

Want a great example? Have another look at DD Lewis' brilliant speech ("The finest beating I ever took") from Gangs of New York. It's well worth your careful study.

Is DD Alive? Hell yes he is.

Observe the moment to moment specificity. You can practically see his objects.

Listening and answering? Come on - of course he is!

So, what about learning to love the monologue audition? (Or at least not hating the thought?) 

Here's a suggestion that'll help you to change your thinking, not to mention help you to improve your skill.

Commit to fully preparing a new monologue a month for the next six months. 

Give up the need for finding the perfect monologue (it doesn't exist.) Instead, give your attention to the creative work of preparation. 

Work daily.

Remember, your essential aim is to create a focused inner life based on given circumstances and turn it out.

Remember that, and we'll remember you.

 


Dream Big. Start Now.

Feb 23 2018

Imagination plus action. It takes both to succeed.

Sprinkle – generously – with the fire of enthusiastic feeling.

Bake until done.

Enjoy the process. Savor the results.


I Was Never More Myself

Feb 09 2018

One of the best, most authentic descriptions I’ve ever heard regarding the creative dynamic at work in the unconscious interplay of actor and character comes from Bryan Cranston. In his just-published autobiography, Cranston writes: “I was Walter White. But I was never more myself."

Now that’s the voice of an actor who knows something about acting. 

Acting is the performance of revelation. In his finest moments of performance, the actor reveals himself through his creative work, wholly and unconditionally. This act of self-revelation – regardless of characterization, be it extreme or subtle – is truly perceived both from within (as Cranston describes his experience while acting the scene) and from without (as we, his audience, plainly see for ourselves while watching him on tv acting the role of Walter White).

Revealing herself through her creative work, the actor consequently encourages the opening of an interior space in the soul of the onlooker, the audience, that reveals yet something else, something greater, a universal truth, and with it feelings of wonder, empathy, even moral responsibility. That revelation, in turn, gives rise, perhaps, to an impulse for personal reflection, imaginative thinking and, even, determined moral action. 

Such is the potential power of the actor’ art.

And so I teach the actor to begin “clean” at the table, unprejudiced by already fixed images, open in the first place to the truth of real circumstances - the partner, oneself - and, second, to the influence of the well-observed imaginary circumstances given by the playwright or screenwriter. This is the place, in my view, that we must start from, not just at the beginning of our creative work, but indeed again and again. 

The character may be rightly understood as objective, but (almost certainly) not yet alive at the actor’s first and early meetings. The actors task is to create the conditions whereby, in encounter with the more or less vague image,  the objective character-image  is gradually fully formed and brought to life. Next (and, as well, concurrently), the actor step by step or, occasionally, if rarely, all at once, assumes (M. Chekhov says “incorporates”; Stanislavsky: “incarnates”) the character. Lastly, and only first then, the actor gives his performance, gives to and for the audience or camera.

Transformation, the pyscho-physical embodiment of the character, is the end to which the actor’s creative efforts are aimed. 

The coming together of actor and character is an event consisting of aspects, like all events, both outer and inner. The actor’s creative event is no mere presentation or representation, but rather an active and incessant process of merging, of becoming “at one with” the character-image. 

Like all processes, the merging of actor and character is also time-bound; the event occurs over a greater or lesser expanse of time. Paradoxically, it is at the same time an instantaneous, spontaneous happening. Critically, the conditions for this twin-sided event are prepared for by the actor through the more or less focused and intensive, creative periods of “homework" and rehearsal. 

Work first, then play. Most of us learned this lesson early in life, at home and at school. As actors striving to create at the very edge of our highest artistic potentials, we do well to remember it. Cranston nails it when he says, “transcendent moments come when you’ve laid the groundwork and you’re open to the moment. They happen when you do the work. In the end, it’s all about the work."


Getting There, Doing That

Feb 02 2018

The urge to "skip ahead." It's widespread and symptomatic of our fast-food culture. And it's particularly, sadly, evident in actors and wanna-be actors.

From the point of view of someone who values mastery, it's maddening, of course. But after all, who wouldn't like to have a great physique, for instance, while eating whatever you like and never having to exercise?

I get that. Only, life doesn't work that way. And we know it, too, we just don't like to admit it.

Remember this: There's a price to pay for getting what you want. Always. And that price, as a rule, is a pretty fair reflection of value. In other words, what comes cheap, generally is cheap. Not worth much. You get what you pay for.

What's more, what's worth having is worth working for. Because it isn't the "got it" that satisfies, so much as the "getting it."

"Been there done that" – where's the energy in that? How about this, instead: "Getting there, doing that!" Feels a lot better, don't you think? 

There's simply no achievement without effort. And there's no great achievement without great effort, great work.

So forget about skipping ahead. Skipping ahead leads, inevitably, to falling behind. And finally to quitting. It may satisy in the short run, but it's a loser's bet.

If you're inclined to skip ahead, I suggest the following alternative: Decide to give up. That's right. Decide to fold. Admit that you aren't willing to put in the work. Because that's honest. Actually, you can live with that, you really can. And then you can move on.

On the other hand, if you're good with step by step, if you're not interested in skipping ahead, if you're up for training and practice, then you're in another class. Let your desire fuel your steps and go for it. Train and practice hard and consistently. Have a long-term perspective. Keep your eyes on the prize and pedal to the metal. Because you, unlike the "skippers" who don't stand a chance, in fact have a real shot at getting exactly what you want. Maybe even more. Because you have what it takes.


Make Success Happen

Jan 26 2018

"The best way to predict the future is to create it."

One of my favorite quotes. Might have been Lincoln said it. 

Want success?

It's up to you.

Make it happen. 

Get it?

Get it.


What We Stand For

Jan 19 2018

MCASB means hardcore training and real results.

"Show up. Train hard. Act better."

How simple is that? (Note I didn't say easy.)

What's worth having is worth working hard for.

Get what you want. Earn it. 


Said Stanislavki

Jan 12 2018

"Seek him out, wherever he is teaching or performing. He is my most brilliant pupil!"

– Konstantin Stanislavksy, on Michael Chekhov


Do It Now

Jan 05 2018

It's always a pity to hear from actors – and it's all too often that we do – that they'd like to train BUT they don't have the time, the money, the energy, ... 

They always have a reason why they can't.

Here's an alternative to can't: Find the reason why you MUST.

This shouldn't be a headscratcher.

Find your answer and then DO it: TRAIN.

Take action toward the fulfillment of your creative and professional goals this coming season and become a better actor starting NOW. 


Fall Training Is Coming

The new season begins in September. 

The Meisner Foundation Training, Advanced Training, and Chekhov Training Programs are interviewing now.

What are you waiting for?


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