The Actor’s Flex Workshop on Meisner Technique – Marie Cooper

The Actor’s Flex Workshop on Meisner Technique

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I was fortunate to get a ticket to the very first Actor’s Flex workshop held in Norwich. The workshop facilitator Callum Durrant explained how Reflex Theatre aims to provide these workshops as continuing professional development for local actors in the region. And indeed, to finally get back in a room just to practice craft without the pressure of lines and rehearsals was refreshing as warm summer rain, after a season of drought.

The first session, held upstairs at the Louis Marchesi in Tombland, Norwich, was on the Meisner Technique which I was nervous but elated to attend. It is something I had wanted to work on for a long time. I must have touched on it during acting classes but I don’t recall going into it in any depth. But to be fair, years ago, when I was doing my acting courses, I was super-excitedly enjoying the experience and I do not recall all of the techniques we used. I had no idea at the time that acting would, one day, become my profession. I much regret now that I didn’t write everything down.

What is the Meisner Technique?

The Meisner Technique is a powerful and effective method of acting training that helps you develop a strong sense of emotional truth and authenticity in performances. It emphasizes the importance of being present in the moment, truthful in your emotions and reactions, and deeply connected to your scene partner.

This is something I have particularly wanted to focus on as I know that this is an area I find challenging. I tend to think too much, and too far ahead, rather than just allowing myself to react spontaneously and naturally in the moment. Probably, no definitely, because I am slightly afraid of what is going to come out of my mouth if I react instinctively. It is also likely why I am so enamoured with method acting primarily and I find improv to be outside my comfort zone.

We did the “repetition” exercises, central to the Meisner Technique, where two people sit opposite each other. One makes an observation about the other. Their partner then repeats the phrase back. We then did various similar exercises, increasing in complexity over the course of the evening.

I did not overcome my overthinking affliction during the two-hour workshop but the exercises definitely helped me recognise the moments where this happened and where I was not actively listening to my partner. Being able to watch other pairs practice was also invaluable to see where the shift occurred in others and the difference it made. Also, it has made me appreciate what a formidable combination this technique could be alongside the method in the actor’s toolbox. I cannot wait to get back on stage and try to incorporate it into my work.

Altogether a very successful first workshop from Reflex Theatre. And a well-needed opportunity for further learning, development and practice of the craft for local performers across the region. I would definitely sign up for Meisner practice again. I very much hope that these workshops continue and I look forward to seeing what The Actor’s Flex brings to Norwich next.

When is the next workshop?

You can find out more about the next Actor’s Flex workshops on Reflex Theatre’s website. An added bonus is that there is a 20% discount for members of Equity, National Youth Theatre alumni and students/graduates of UK Drama Schools/Universities.

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