Sanford Meisner on Acting
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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 has been called "the theater's best-kept secret," and Sanford Meisner on Acting by Dennis Longwell gives some insight into what techniques the hugely influential drama teacher used in his 50-plus years of work. One of the founding members of the Actors Studio (with Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and Harold Clurman), Meisner developed his own special lessons based upon his understandings of the great Russian teacher Stanislavsky. Turning away from the sense-memory exercises common among his colleagues, his training focused instead on a realistic approach to imagination and creativity. Unlike many other educators associated with "the Method," Meisner had little tolerance for self-absorption or striving after strong emotional effect, instead preaching that clarity of purpose and efficient use of the psyche are the actor's greatest tools. Longwell's book follows a class of eight men and eight women through one of Meisner's 15-month courses at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse, with extensive transcripts taken directly from Meisner's notes to the students on the basis of their exercises. With an introduction by director Sydney Pollack, one of the many influential artists who studied with Meisner (the book includes accolades from Maureen Stapleton, Arthur Miller, Gregory Peck, and Eli Wallach), this is an excellent introduction that helps to demystify the work of a great theatrical teacher. --John Longenbaugh
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