Sunday, June 3, 2018
Friday, June 1, 2018
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Monday, May 21, 2018
Briana Packen is one of the faculty members that teaches movement classes for actors at the Maggie Flanigan Studio. Briana explains how actors can shed the physical habits that get in the way when acting.
How Do You Get Out of Your Own Way?
So many students ask me how to do this. They want to know how to make it something achievable, what the secret is, or the special recipe of warm-ups, exercises, and rituals that make it consistent.
I'm always very frank and honest about it. It's not something you try to achieve, it's a choice you make. We all have the capability to get out of our own way at any given moment, but it calls for choosing discomfort over control. And because our bodies are habituated over years of socialization to protect us from physical vulnerability, it takes retraining our knee-jerk, reflexive responses of self-defense.
Making the choice to be vulnerable is choosing to open yourself to be harmed or wounded. Though acting takes place in the imaginary world, our bodies don't recognize the difference between the simulated emotional vulnerability of a scene or activity and being open to real-world emotional harm. Because of this, the body often tenses up or shuts down the breath and other functions of a released body that allows the actor to take in or "get out of their own way."
When it's broken down physically, it is a process that happens subconsciously over time. An actor must first become aware of their individual defensive physical habits before they can eventually learn to let go of those which close them up. Eventually, that actor learns to make a different choice to remain physically open so they “can be done to” in the imaginary world. This is practiced by letting others see you while noticing what's physically happening in your breath and body to inhibit that process.
In movement, through the use of intimacy exercises, actors get to practice vulnerability first in the presence of another individual who is seeing them without expectations or any agenda so they can breathe through and notice the physical components of tension, release, intensity, discomfort and whatever else may be present. This gives them a safe space to explore being vulnerable so they can begin to identify habits that keep them protected, give those habits permission to exist and continue to stick with staying in a moment of intimacy while telling that habit, "I see you, and it's alright for me to experience whatever it is I am experiencing." All this so that eventually, over time, the actor can begin to shed the physical habits that get in their own way when acting.
Often, the transference of these exercises into the acting room isn't direct. It is more of a continued opening over time because the moment eventually comes when the actor has to make the choice to be vulnerable- or open to being wounded- even when they know the scene or circumstance calls for something that is uncomfortable to live through (i.e heartbreak).
In essence, getting out of your own way is a practice. The practice of making the choice to be open to discomfort. It takes training and continued mental gymnastics to change your mindset to that of being "harmed or wounded" in the imaginary world to that of being safe enough to play full out with yourself. There is no magic, no secret cocktail of stretches or physical activation, it's a choice. And everyone finds their own ritual of choices that help them mentally and physically prepare their body to be a channel to transmit honest effective behavior. It is a choice to make what you're doing or who you're trying to affect more important than any self-consciousness or discomfort. A choice to say yes in every moment. A choice to be so fully involved in a circumstance that your impulses can fire freely into whatever expansive permissive behavior the scene calls for. And you can make that choice at any moment. No matter how far off course your scene or activity may feel, the choice to get out of your own way is always there for you, albeit a brave and often unnerving one.
Movement Classes with Briana at the Maggie Flanigan Studio
Learn more about the movement classes and acting programs at the Maggie Flanigan Studio by visiting the acting classes and acting programs page on the website ( http://www.maggieflaniganstudio.com/ ) or by calling the studio to get answers to specific questions about our acting programs. Call 917-789-1599.
Thursday, May 17, 2018
The Meisner summer acting program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio introduces actors to the Meisner technique. In this studio interview, Erica talks about what she thought it meant to train as an actor before she started the six-week intensive.
What did you think it meant to train as an actor before you started this six-week summer intensive?
I thought that I was going to do six weeks and be a star for sure. I thought I was going to nail it in six weeks. I didn’t realize that it requires a lifetime of crafting and work. I definitely thought that acting was a lot of self-generating behavior. At the studio, they call it pushing. When you are pushing, you’re pushing like you want something to happen that isn’t coming from your partner or from the circumstance. I thought it was just going to give me the tools to make myself cry. I don’t know.
“What do you need to be an actor?” I had no idea.
"I did not know anything at all about acting when I came here. It's humbling. It's like eye-opening. It's insightful. It's so hard but it's so worth it."
Erica PeredniaStudent, Summer Acting Program
What happened during the six weeks that changed how you thought about acting and training?
It was so hard that I didn’t come back for three years. I didn’t really realize, I didn’t know anything about acting at all when I came here. So you should come here too if you don’t know anything about acting. What I am saying is that I just didn’t know how hard it was going to be. I had no idea. I nearly cried for six weeks straight because it was so hard and so challenging. I have just never been challenged like that by like a teacher in my life. I just never got into anything so challenging in my entire life as acting. It’s so hard, it’s mind-blowing to me.
I think that’s why I’m still here. While I want to be an actor because I’ll just never nail it. You nailed it and then you mess up again the next day like it doesn’t matter. You have got to just climb the mountain like it is infinite. You just keep climbing it, just in terms of having a career as an actor. There are no plateaus, and that’s so interesting to me. It’s like the same thing as the school. Once you break through something there’s another challenge just like ahead of you. I don’t know if exciting is the right word. It’s just I’m never going to get bored here.
What did you learn about yourself during that summer intensive?
I learned that I was not ready to pursue a career in acting. At the time I really wasn’t ready to confront myself, or where I fit in society or what I thought about myself, and what my blocks were. There were the things that I was afraid to live out. I just didn’t have the courage. I think I learned that it just takes a lot of courage. For me, at that time I couldn’t bring myself to keep showing up at that level. Now that I’m back things are different, I’m a little older. I’m sober. It’s the truth.
At that time it was just a huge life lesson for me. Even just to see through the six weeks, I wanted to quit every single day and just getting through that I felt like I had so much. It gave me so much self-esteem that I just accomplished during six weeks here. It’s weird because I didn’t act in-between. I took three years off. Being back now even at that time, it was still such a significant experience for me. I just learned so much by failing, and I’m learning it again now.
It’s humbling, it’s like eye-opening, it’s insightful. It’s so hard but it’s so worth it. I can’t really think of anything better to be spending my time doing.
How would you describe Charlie Sandlan as an acting teacher?
Charlie will say that he has an inviolate sense of truth, and he does. I think that he just sees right through people, straight to their core. I think he just sees other people’s truths before they do, or before they even maybe like understand it. Sometimes it’s like underneath anger is like pain. For me, I was having a hard time giving myself permission to be angry. Now I’m having a hard time giving myself permission to be in pain. Charlie sees all of this before it happens. He’s really hard on people. He’s really hard on people about being prepared and doing their best.
If you bring your second best to Charlie, he is just going to ask you, why you’re okay with your second best. He just holds the mirror right at your face. He’ll just push you to be the best you can be or the best you want to be. I think that’s what he is really about. How bad do you want it? He’s a straight shooter. He asks really direct questions. He forces you to give really direct answers. It is a fast track how to learn anything. I think he’s great.
The Summer Programs and Summer Acting Intensive
Learn more about the summer acting programs and the Meisner Summer Intensive at the Maggie Flanigan Studio by visiting the Summer Acting Program page on the studio website (http://www.maggieflaniganstudio.com/) or by calling the studio directly at (917) 789-1599.
The post The True Challenge of the Summer Intensive appeared first on Meisner Acting - The Maggie Flanigan Studio New York NY - 917-789-1599.
The Meisner summer acting program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio introduces actors to the Meisner technique. In this studio interview, Erica talks about what she thought it meant to train as an actor before she started the six-week intensive. [caption id="attachment_9883" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Summer Acting Programs - Maggie Flanigan Studio New York[/caption]