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Sanford Meisner on Acting
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Sanford Meisner on Acting

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  874 ratings  ·  64 reviews
This book, written in collaboration with Dennis Longwell, follows an acting class of eight men and eight women for fifteen months, beginning with the most rudimentary exercises and ending with affecting and polished scenes from contemporary American plays. Throughout these pages Meisner is delight--always empathizing with his students and urging them onward, provoking emot ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published July 12th 1987 by Vintage (first published 1987)
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B
If I were to take Meisner’s class, I’m fairly certain I would be kicked out and never want to act again. He has an issue with introversion in actors. He’s all about getting the actor out of their head and relying on their instincts and gut responses. This certainly has its place, but I think that an actor’s brain is important. I want to be an intelligent actor. I think it is important for there to be intelligent actors. I don’t want to go to a play and see a bunch of brainless acting. There are ...more
Chad Bearden
When I attended the Texas Educational Theater Association (TETA) convention last month, the name Sandy Meisner kept popping up. Most notably, Larry Silverberg, a Meisner devotee, did a double session teaching the early stages of the Meisner method. A few other workshop presenters referenced the man as well as they demonstrated various philosophies and rehearsal techniques.

Having come to my career as theater director through a bit of a back door, I sometimes find myself embarassingly ignorant of
...more
Marcus
Wow! I am not even vaguely interested in acting, but Sanford Meisner was clearly a master and his genius comes through in this book. It is like reading a play, only it is an edited record of a fifteen month class he taught in the 80s. Almost entirely dialog, the book teaches about emotions and authenticity. What I learned is this: real acting is not acting at all. A great actor or actress puts themselves out in front of an audience, not AS themselves, but they put their truest emotions out there ...more
Maayan
This book is a fabulous tool for actors. I feel that it is more beneficial to those who have studied or are currently studying Meisner's method in a classroom or workshop setting than those who are learning about it for the first time. I started reading it concurrently with a class solely dedicated to exploring the Meisner technique, and I think that was perfect. I just re-read it and the whole method became clearer through hindsight and mental repetition. ;) A good read for the actor or actress ...more
David Glasgow
Excellent books about art are rare. Art, after all, is the medium that connects one soul to a distant other, and those who write about art too often forget that the souls, not the medium, are the sources of power in that connection.

Happily, Sanford Meisner learned that lesson before the publication of his first book on acting—which manuscript he discarded after finding himself "bitterly disappointed at the results." Meisner says more about this failure in the Prologue to this text:
My basic princ
...more
Kris
I'm not going to parrot Sandy's maxims like everyone else. What I will say is that this book must be very strange if you've never trained in the Meisner technique. It would be like reading about Scuba diving or karate---a book will only do so much.
Dusty Bayers
loved. Loved. LOVED this book!!!
Nicki
De-emphasized affective/emotion memory and instead put focus on the given circumstances of the play.
-acting is doing
-be specific
-an ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words
-emotional dialogue is a ping-pong game
-to transfer the point of concentration outside yourself
-there's no such thing as nothing
-don't think, work from your instincts
-follow your instincts: forget polite or what's socially acceptable; it's imposted, not natural
-don't do anything unless something happens to make you do it
-w
...more
Annie Magan
Usually, when people hear about a book that's written about a certain technique or skill or how to do said technique or skill, they lose interest. No one wants to read about how to do something. That was my initial thought when a friend recommended, "Sanford Meisner on Acting." I'm a lover of the theatre and acting but every time I've tried to read a book on the two, I always end up falling asleep disappointed that I just wasted my time trying to read such a dry book. However, I was really inter ...more
Adrienne Fisher
If you get into method acting, you'll likely hear of Sanford Meisner, but his name isn't as well known as Stella Adler or Stanislavsky and the amateur/professional theater/acting community is the poorer for it. If you're at all interested in acting, or are already out there and haven't familiarized yourself with him, or are working with someone who uses his methods, read the book!

A very quick primer - Meisner is most interested in "living truthfully under imaginary circumstances." In other word
...more
Ashley
I read this many years ago, when I was anywhere from 4th to 6th grade. It was in my uncle's bookshelf and I found myself intrigued by it. There was a quote in the book that I still remember 8-10 years later. "The foundation of acting is the reality of doing." I find it a wonderful quote for aspiring actors. I was interested in acting when I was that age, but let go of it and changed my mind as I was growing up. Nevermind that, the point is, I didn't fully finish the book back then but the fact t ...more
Jordan Roberts
Brilliant! A true master teacher. A legend of his time. Many have tried to add onto his teachings, but there is only one Sanford Meisner. The closest one could ever get to feeling like they are in a Sanford Meisner classroom is if it is being taught by Sanford's assistant of 14 years, Martin Barter. I was lucky enough to train with him for 3 years, and this book has been a tremendous reference to me my entire career.
Jesse
I first read about The Meisner technique in an article one of my professors had us read for class. I was drawn to it because the technique was supposedly about achieving spontaneity and living in the moment, and being able to achieve that is probably my biggest weakness as an actor. I wanted to learn more about the technique and I came across this book when doing preliminary research for my thesis. I was not expecting this book to be so mind-opening. Meisner has such a deep understanding of the ...more
Evan Casey
Probably my favorite of any of the acting books I have read because there is no artifice or flowery language. It is simply transcripts of Meisner's conversations, mostly with his students, which is really all you need to appreciate his brilliance and learn from one of the greatest acting minds. This book clearly demonstrates the profound impact the Meisner Technique has on those students/actors who use it. It also gives you insight into Meisner the man, who for all of his brilliance was (I would ...more
Richard Pacheco
Meisner has some great techniques for actors, some wonderful tools to make an emotional connection with the character,but I find his personality infused with arrogance, egotism and self importance. For Meisner, there is only Meisner's methods and no others. He sees little or no value to anyone else's such as Stanislavsky. Great tools, great exercises, but I do not like the personality of the man who comes through for his boorish arrogance and self-centeredness.Supreme egotist. At last there are ...more
Amy Wright
I don't think Sanford Meisner is the kind of guy I'd want to have dinner with. He seems extremely blunt and forthright. However, in acting, those are the kind of qualities you want in a teacher or director, so I think he would be the kind of guy I'd want to learn from.

I found this book extremely interesting. The whole idea of emotional truth and the exercises involving this were very useful. I was also fascinated by the way his class gave him their full attention and hung onto his word like it
...more
IziEzi
This book is a peek into one of Meisner's classes, rather than an instructional book of the exercises he designed. There are vignettes of actors performing the exercises in class, the feedback given by Meisner, and the "Aha!" moments of what the actors learned from the exercises.

I really love the Meisner technique, I feel it is the best technique for learning how to be present with your partner and be open to spontaneous reactions based on how your partner is being with you (tone of voice, body
...more
Sarah
Really interesting book that gets more useful as it goes on, and provides a great starting point for understanding what acting entails--hard, specific work! The casual sexism and gender/sex stereotyping of the teacher/writer is almost bizarre with how bare it is, even though this stereotyping is still the norm today.
Helen
This book is a condensed transcription of an 18-week acting course led by Sanford Meisner. My knowledge of various modes of acting technique is rather low, and this was on one of my potential summer programs' reading lists.

It was a useful read, although Meisner comes off mildly chauvanistic (product of his environment, I suppose). I felt for the students' confusion and frustration at various points. I didn't get as much out of reading this as I'd hoped, but I sense that its lessons will sit deep
...more
Tyrone Burton
A wonderful book for those that wish to peruse acting and rather easy to understand. This is my first time getting into the book realm and I chose this in order to arm myself with as much knowledge on acting before starting my actual studies. Mr. Meisner really is a hidden gem.
ellen
The one thing this book does more than anything else is to display what a great teacher Sanford Meisner was. I took some Meisner classes and while the technique is unique it falls short in the hands of just any 'teacher' - the book makes that much obvious. For the layman I think it also displays the weirdness of the art of acting. That is using you emotions to create more triggering your own pain for your own art. Many art forms do this in a more passive sense, but in acting the medium is yourse ...more
Michael
A must read for anyone in the theatre.
Jason
Mar 31, 2008 Jason rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all actors
Recommended to Jason by: Sandra K. Horner
Shelves: acting, non-fiction
It's a pretty quick read, and with the prominence of Meisner in the acting community it is a must read for all actors. As a stand alone book, it's not particularly helpful for an actor looking to improve his skills. The general concepts, however, are supremely important. The wise actor will find an experienced and supportive acting instructor teaching Meisner and experience the concepts first hand.

Despite its necessity for actors, I rate it 3 stars because it's not a particularly enjoyable readi
...more
Patrick Fisackerly
While I love the Meisner technique and find it fascinating, this book in text form only scratches the surface of the man's genius. It's essentially transcriptions from a year of his class, which is fine, but the Meisner method is something you really need to experience to understand. Perhaps this would have worked better as a filmed documentary or even a radio doc, but on paper it's just...okay. The method is amazing, but it doesn't translate that well to words alone.
Nathaniel Kelley
Having come from Mamet's "True and False," I decided to go back to the source. Reminiscent of Stanislavsky's layout without the pretension. At times funny, others crushing, the entirety is entrancing and redefines acting.
Benaboo
Aug 13, 2008 Benaboo rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: actors/actresses
Recommended to Benaboo by: text message from a psychic
Power went out and I was trapped on an escalator with nothing but my wits and this book. The day-by-day narrative/journal style makes this quite an easy read compared to works by other acting instructors. I like Meisner's concept of inducing emotion interesting as opposed to say Uta Hagen. Unfortunately it seems you'd need an acting coach trained in Meisner technique to actually put the stuff in this book to use; something out of my reach at the moment.
Christina knox
this book is amazing. meisner can be such a negative bastard. it really works well. like many of the classics of acting theory, most of the book is set around (usually) fictional classrooms where the writer (as professor) is railing on his students. in meisner's case, he really grills them beyond belief. why? because he's trying to break through every idiot reason people decide to take up acting and he does so quite effectively.
Sam
Apr 03, 2010 Sam rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: theatre
On Acting is a great resource for students who have already trained using Meisner's technique. It journals a group of students through the two year course, illustrating the techniques and exercises of the program through the student's examples. I wouldn't recommend it as a substitute for the training itself, but I think it works as both a good refresher and a coursebook to help make sense of some of the technique.
Ivonne
This book not only gives you insights on the mind of an actor, it teaches you to deal with common daily things and to create empathy with others. It's amazing how these techniques can be easily applied on everyday life and they teach you more about psychology than any book you can read. For actors, is a great tool of work, you can feel being there in the sessions with him. It's wonderful.
Laura Ferrari
Meisner= a scary, brilliant, very scary bastard. The book is divided into class periods. Its told a little bit like a story but starts with a quotation that outlines each section's theme, so a little bit textbooky. Now I catch myself all the time living "in my head" and it drives me nutso. A very valuable book for anyone interested in any kind of art.

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