Meisner Technique

The Meisner Technique

Graduation. Masterclass in Performance.

“Acting is the ability to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” Sanford Meisner

Sanford Meisner was co-founder of the Group Theatre, together with Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler. Meisner Training is an interdependent series of training exercises that build on one another. The more complex work supports a command of dramatic text. Students work on a series of progressively complex exercises to develop an ability to first improvise, then to access an emotional life, and finally to bring the spontaneity of improvisation and the richness of personal response to textual work. The technique is used to develop improvisation skills as well as “interpreting a script’, and creating the specific physical characteristics of each character the actor plays.

Meisner Technique.

Alex Murphy

Building the core Meisner repetition exercises a step at a time, we will explore the  practices of the Meisner approach with a focus on creating and living, believably, the imaginary circumstances of the moment-ever encouraging the actor’s own impulses. The goal of all work is to condition the actor to live by the maxim: “ what i do depends on what he/she does.”  And, always, “ it doesn’t matter who is watching  you as long as you’re not watching yourself.”

Through rigorous, challenging stages of the repetition exercise, improvisations, and some script work, students will come into contact with all the fundamentals necessary to build a role. As Meisner himself said, “your acting will not be good until it’s work until finally nobody is acting like you.” With Meisner work, in time, students experience a greater ability to access their own, original, very human impulses. Sanford Meisner created a dynamic framework from which to encourage those very singular acting impulses, and most especially, at the same time, to work off of your fellow actor moment by moment-whether it be in classic or contemporary work, on film, or the stage. 

Additionally, we will also utilize select modifications of Meisners work that has been developed by subsequent teachers of Meisner-namely, the work of William Esper.

Students will be assigned scenes for an inter-class presentation and to use for exercises.  



ALEX MURPHY is an American actor, director, and teacher. He has worked with actors in the US, Asia, and Europe for a number of years. In just the last 30 months he has been a guest lecturer at Film Act Paris in France, Teaterhøgskolen i Nord-Trøndelag in Norway, Mulholland Academy in Amsterdam, and the International Academy of Film and Television in Antwerp, Belgium, The UP Film Institute at University of the Philippines in Manila, and an         And/Action Festival featured mentor in Steinkjer, Norway. Alex served in the role of lead acting teacher and Senior Acting mentor for several years with International Academy of Film and Television in Cebu, Philippines. He founded and serves as director, actor, teacher and Artistic Director with gogoHeart Film and Stage. 

With a BA in Theatre/Performance from USF, Alex later studied Stanislavski technique at HB Studio, Laban technique with Larry Smith of Central School of Speech and Drama, and Meisner Technique at the Obie Award winning Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York City, where Alex lived and performed on the Off-Off/Off Broadway circuit for nearly 20 years. As the director and lead actor, Alex premiered the full length play SEMINAR, by Theresa Rebeck, in Cebu, Philippines in 2014. In the last several years Alex has directed productions of Eric Bogosians DRINKING IN AMERICA at The Studio in Antwerp, Belgium, WOMEN IN MOTION(Donald Margulies), ANYTHING FOR YOU, AND THREE GIRLS AND A BRENDA for gogo Heart Stage and Film in Cebu, Philippines, and, HIDDEN IN THIS PICTURE by Aaron Sorkin and HUMAN ERROR by Keith Reddin at the Tutti Fratelli Theatre in Antwerp, Belgium.  In 2015, Alex played the lead role in the award winning short film PADULONG SA PINUY-ANAN, and in 2016 he completed lead actor duties for the short film RIVERSIDE, shot by Odie Flores-primary cinematographer for Brillante Mendoza, a Cannes winner/Palme d’Or nominee at the Cannes Film festival.


Level 1 and 2: Intro to the Meisner Technique and beginning the work

The introduction will set out the Meisner Technique and explain of the step-by-step improvisations that follow in the advanced levels. Actors are introduced to the basic repetition exercise (listening and answering) and develop focus and explore what it means to connect with another person.  

Level 3: Meisner with Exercises

A challenging and intensive session that continues the work in Level 1 & 2, deepening the actor’s imagination, focus and ability to connect using more detailed exercises. Emphasis is on improvisations that are free, playful and learning that “Acting is doing”.

This class requires outside preparation time to craft independent activities.

Part 2

Acting 4: Meisner Technique

This class continues the work from Level 1: continued work with the repetition exercise and introduction to the basic knock & activity exercise, developing focus and deepening the ability to listen and answer. No scene work

Level 4: Meisner – Intermediate  

Deepening the improvisational skills acquired in Level 1 & 2.

Continuing the work. With repetition, exercises, and introducing new elements to develop the actor’s focus, imagination, and emotional preparation.

No scene study. The class is challenging and is designed for the committed pre-professional and professional actor or related industry professional but is also accessible to beginners*.

 *(Like learning a new language, everyone begins on the same page.)


More about Sanford Meisner

Throughout his career, Meisner worked with, and taught, students who became well known, such as Sandra Bullock, David Duchovny, James Franco,Michelle Pfeiffer, Naomi Watts, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Jon Voight, Dylan McDermott, Eileen Fulton, James Caan, Steve McQueen, Robert Duvall,Gregory Peck, Eli Wallach, Jack Lord, Bob Fosse, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, Lee Grant, Peter Falk, Jeff Goldblum, Grace Kelly, James Doohan, Jason Boss, Manu Tupou, Tony Randall and Sydney Pollack. Pollack together with Charles E. Conrad served as Meisner’s senior assistants. The technique is helpful not just for actors, but also for directors, writers, and teachers. A number of directors also studied with him, among them Sidney Lumet and John Frankenheimer, and writers such as Arthur Miller and David Mamet.


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Deb Mulholland
Academy Director

Our location for Classes and Courses 2018

Arie Biemondstraat 111
1054 PD Amsterdam

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