Acting-training- where to start – In my twenties I knew one thing. I wanted to be an actor. But at the time I had no idea how to go about becoming one. The internet was new and research was not at my fingertips the way it is today. So I had to study every different approach to acting the long way around. I had to take years of classes which I often found triggered my impulse to be a “good student.” Schools of any kind, acting, art, law… must by necessity present themselves as authorities. But schools that teach the expressive arts have a difficult task because their job is to empower the creative (rebellious) power in every artist. Tricky, that. So how does an artist find training that encourages self-empowerment? I’ve studied a variety of methods and hope to provide new actors with some useful information about where to start on their long adventure in the performing arts. Here is a comprehensive list for acting training – where to start.
Below is a list of the major heavyweight teachers you will likely run into in the field of acting. I encourage you to give them all a try. Three of the below methods (Adler, Hagen, and Meisner) are available to study in DVD form without investing in a class. I hope you find these acting training resources helpful and time-saving because I, for one know how many obstacles actors face in this world and a little information can go a long way.
The Practical Aesthetics Approach
You can probably guess which technique I favor since you are reading this from the Sanford Meisner Master Class DVD website- and yes, I do think you should buy this DVD- but not because I want to sell a product- because I REALLY believe in this approach to acting. I speak from experience. I never set out to become a Meisner fan. It happened naturally. I really had no idea who any of those famous acting teachers were. I listened, took notes, paid lots of money for classes and invested all I had in all their exercises. After over two decades of working with all these approaches in great detail, Sanford Meisner’s philosophies survived the test of time. Meisner’s technique offers the healthiest most sustainable tools for accessing emotional expression and responding authentically to the made-up situations of storytelling.
Meisner insisted on never copywriting a specific name for his technique like Strasberg’s Method Acting because, even while Sandy taught students how to act, he constantly battled with how difficult it is to teach creativity and emotional expression. He approached the task with great humbleness and fascination. Like any good scientist, he refrained from making definitive statements about how something ought to be done. In his lifetime he was deeply concerned with finding ways to get out of an actor’s way and facilitate the flow of expression which we in this field all live for… that timeless zone where all is vivid, important, and magnificent.
I’ve since shifted my focus to the writing craft but I find myself – even in the field of writing – accessing the same exact tools Sanford Meisner teaches. His approach is simple; listen, feel, respond, be present. He was ahead of his time, really, teaching back in the 70’s and 80’s what Eckhart Tolle calls, the power of now. It has taken me a long time to put words to my perspective on acting training because (being an actor) I’m very susceptible to emotionality… it’s my job, after all. But believe me when I say- I LOVE this work!
The DVD was shot by Sydney Pollack in 1980 in the hopes of offering a first-rate acting class to a global audience. Back then it was shot on videotape and editing video was expensive! The project ran out of funds and sat in a closet for over twenty years. With the invention of digital media and programs like Final Cut Pro the footage was able to be edited in a much more cost-effective way.
This class is cost effective for new actors because it is 1/3 the price of an acting class and it is a master class taught by Sanford Meisner himself in the comfort of your own home. It is available on instant streaming.
I hope this has offered useful information in finding acting training resources for the new actor. I encourage all actors, writers and directors to check out all the DVD’s on acting they can find. Why not? The information found there can only make you even more prepared when you finally find the process that is right for you! I also encourage actors to always take classes because it is an action-oriented art form. Thinking about acting can cause stress and our job as artists is to relax.
I wish you all the best on your life adventures! Drop me a note if you’ve found this article helpful.
-editor of the Sanford Meisner Master Class