Sanford Meisner on Acting
About the book
Sanford Meisner was one of the best known and beloved teachers of acting in the country. This book follows one of his acting classes for fifteen months, beginning with the most rudimentary exercises and ending with affecting and polished scenes from contemporary American plays. Written in collaboration with Dennis Longwell, it is essential reading for beginning and professional actors alike. Throughout these pages Meisner is a delight--always empathizing with his students and urging them onward, provoking emotion, laughter, and growing technical mastery from his charges. With an introduction by Sydney Pollack, director of Out of Africa and Tootsie, who worked with Meisner for five years. This book should be read by anyone who wants to act or even appreciate what acting involves. Like Meisner's way of teaching, it is the straight goods.--Arthur Miller If there is a key to good acting, this one is it, above all others. Actors, young and not so young, will find inspiration and excitement in this book.--Gregory Peck
Sanford Meisner Biography
Sanford Meisner (August 31, 1905 – February 2, 1997) was an American actor and acting teacher who developed an approach to acting instruction that is now known as the Meisner technique. While Meisner was exposed to method acting at the Group Theatre, his approach differed markedly in that he completely abandoned the use of affective memory, a distinct characteristic of method acting. Meisner maintained an emphasis on "the reality of doing", which was the foundation of his approach.
Early lifeBorn in Brooklyn, New York City, Meisner was the oldest child of Hermann Meisner, a furrier, and Bertha Knoepfler, both Jewish immigrants who came to the United States from Hungary. His younger siblings were Jacob, Ruth, and Robert. To improve Sanford's health during his youth, his family took a trip to the Catskills. While there, however, his brother Jacob contracted bovine tuberculosis from drinking unpasteurized milk and died shortly thereafter. In an interview many years later, Meisner described this event as "the dominant emotional influence in my life from which I have never, after all these years, escaped." Because he was unable to cope with feelings of guilt relating to his brother's death, for which his parents blamed him, the young Meisner became isolated and withdrawn. He found release in playing the family piano and eventually attended the Damrosch Institute of Music (now the Juilliard School), where he studied to become a concert pianist. When the Great Depression hit, however, his father pulled him out of music school to help with the family business in New York City's Garment District. Meisner later recalled that his only means of enduring long days spent lugging bolts of fabric was to entertain himself by replaying, in his mind, all the classical piano pieces he had studied in music school. Meisner believed this experience helped him develop, at age twenty, an acute sense of sound akin to perfect pitch. Later, as an acting teacher, he often evaluated his students' scene work with his eyes closed and his head dramatically buried in his hands. This trick was only partly for effect, he explained, because it actually helped him more closely listen to his student's work and pinpoint the true and false moments in their acting. After graduation from high school, Meisner professionally pursued acting, which had interested him since his youth. He had acted at the Lower East Side's Chrystie Street Settlement House under the direction of Lee Strasberg, who would play an important role in his development. At age 19 Meisner heard that the Theatre Guild was hiring teenagers and, after a brief interview, was hired as an extra for They Knew What They Wanted. The experience deeply affected him, leading to the realization that acting had always been his life's ambition. He and Strasberg both appeared in the original Theatre Guild production of the Rodgers and Hart revue The Garrick Gaieties, from which the song "Manhattan" came.
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|Authors:||Sanford Meisner Dennis Longwell Sydney Pollack|
|Publisher:||Random House USA Inc|
|Languages:||| English ||
|Publication date:||Feb. 7, 2020|
|First Publication Date:||None|
|Publication City/Country:||New York, United States|