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.
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.
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