How we teach Meisner Technique Differently: The Repetition Exercise
It is true that the Meisner Technique is taught differently by various practitioners of the method. Each instructor alters the technique in accordance with their own experiences.
We have been lucky to sit with Actors Door Studio director Fay Beck, to discuss aspects of her unique approach to the technique. Fay spent a decade refining the and altering the method to make it more precise in its scope and practice.
In this video Fay Beck discusses one of the ways the Meisner Technique is taught differently at ADS. You’ll instantly recognise some of these differences if you take classes here at the studio.
Truth above all else
At our Studio we place emphasis on ‘Truth’ as opposed to reaction. Often, during the Repetition exercise, importance is placed on the actor’s impulsive ‘reaction’ to the call from the other actor. As a result, actors are encouraged to connect with this impulsive reaction, leading to their (mis)identification with it.
Fay discovered that this first ‘impulsive’ reaction is fraught with ‘defensiveness’, particularly when the actor is new to the technique. In an attempt to continue ‘hiding’, the actor defensively reacts, often leading to them ‘attacking’ the other actor.
Encouraging actors to continuously react in this way, as is often common practice in Meisner Technique studios, locks them further away from themselves and from the ultimate aim of the technique which is to strip the actor bare.
Fay’s approach by contrast, trains actors to take on the ‘truth’ of the moment. This does not necessarily mean that actors should ‘agree’ with their working partner. Rather it means, that the actor ‘accepts the call’, and responds to the truth of it. Therefore, Reaction for us at ADS, is the reaction to the truth of a call, as opposed to reacting to your working partner’s POV. The upshot of all this, is that the onion layers (to use Meisner’s own metaphor) as peeled back quicker.
Our actors use the other person’s portrayal of them, ‘to come to a greater understanding’ of themselves, and quicker.
To do this effectively, Actors Door Studio teachers and tutors are specially trained by Fay Beck to ‘see’ beyond defence mechanisms. Using insights from her former training as a counsellor and psychologist, Fay Beck trains her tutors to deliver precise feedback to actors thus bringing them closer to the truth of themselves.