Green Shirt Studio

Thoughts from a Level One Meisner Student

Meisner Classes
“J” a Level One Green Shirt student, continues to share his thoughts on studying the Meisner Technique.
Andrew continues to lead us further along the Meisner path. The repetition has progressed from being simply mechanical, or just one word—the first thing one notices about one’s partner—to a complete statement. “You are sad,” for example.
We are also now able to make “I” statements when we are so moved, provided that, as Larry Silverberg cautions in his work book, we allow them to happen and don’t contrive or force them to happen.
Taken together, these changes have led the repetitions to yield glimmers of truthful interaction; it’s now easier to imagine how Meisner work relates to acting that is honest, in-the-moment, alive. The repetitions are done fast, cutting out time to think, which can’t help but generate real emotional exchanges.
Andrew and a working actor with Green Shirt training took part in some of the exercises during class. Their ability to simply “be,” and be themselves, was really impressive. There was a natural patter to their responses, a flow to the way their repetitions unfolded, with strong focus and emotional honesty. If Meisner training, over time, helps one to reach that state of presence and “fullness of expression,” to quote Andrew, then it is a very valuable training.
Coming into the class, I knew that a fullness of expression is something that I struggle with in acting (and, not coincidentally, in life). I’ve often been encouraged to play with a higher energy, to not be low energy. When a fellow student suggested that the repetition seemed to be more interesting to watch, more lively, when the players reacted with more energy, Andrew made the distinction that it’s a matter of varying degrees of expression.
For many reasons, we all have things that we do that get in the way of our full expression, as actors and people. Defense mechanisms, basically, that we use in order to get by, or to make us feel that we are in control. When in reality, as Andrew tells us, we are out of control. In the Meisner repetition, without time to think, these defenses are exposed. In my own case, these are things I learned growing up, in the way I was raised, at school, etc.
Thankfully, Andrew assured us that, over time and with practice of the Meisner work, these negative things gradually fall away, leading to a greater fullness of expression.
I know it won’t be easy, but I’m looking forward to putting in the work, to moving out of my comfort zone and embracing uncertainty.