Sanford Meisner was a major American actor and acting teacher. He trained generations of Hollywood actors and had a profound impact on modern cinema. Like Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler, his highly innovative training method is built up on the Stanislavski “system” and is in his own words “…based on bringing the actor back to his emotional impulses and to acting that is firmly rooted in the instinctive. It is based on the fact that all good acting comes from the heart.”
Meisner’s method consists of a progressive system of structured improvisations, aimed at the stimulation of instincts and impulses, promoting concentration and imagination. The goal is to achieve “the reality of doing” and “to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances”. Focusing on the other instead of being self-centered makes way for a more authentic dialogue with partners and the surrounding environment. Actions are liberated, dynamic and full of life. Sanford Meisner summed his technique up in his statement “Acting Means Reacting”.
The Meisner technique trains many other qualities that can be equally important to an actor as well as a manager. It improves concentration, timing and spontaneity. Not giving a chance to prejudice and biased opinions in the run-up to a dialogue, it leaves the student with a larger range of possible alternative acting options.