Posted by: travishawkins | May 3, 2008

MONSTER TEACHER

Many of you have heard my stories from my Meisner class in Los Angeles, about Bill Alderson (my teacher) telling the girl that she wasn’t attractive, or telling the students to get out for talking during Johnny Cash songs. Well, here is Meisner himself: we watched this (unavailable) documentary on him in my class.

A word of introduction: if I walked into a room full of scientists talking about the best way to split an atom, I wouldn’t understand a word. But if they were the real deal, I wouldn’t walk out saying “those guys don’t know what they’re talking about” simply because I didn’t understand it. I would think “they must know something I don’t know.” And if I was into science, I would want to learn what that “something” was.

When you watch (if you watch) these exercises…especially the much-lampooned “repetition” exercise…you may get the same feeling. You can even read it in the student’s faces, because they’re new to the technique. But Meisner did indeed “have something to teach, something that was practicable,” as Mamet says in this clip. That is, it was something you understood by doing, and something that you could do, unlike some acting techniques.

Meisner was not a nice guy, and his laryngectomy makes him even more spooky. But take a look at the number of great actors that sing his praises. Draw your own conclusions.

Anyway, I like this stuff, and I find it interesting. Maybe you will too.

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Responses

  1. So fascinating. And that voice is creeps mcgee to the max.

  2. wow. i’d love to take one of those classes.

  3. I’ve actually seen this entire series on youtube before. it’s very inspiring. i told my gf that you took that class. what kind of feedback did they give you?

  4. Evan! Good to hear from you. I have to say that Bill was none too impressed with me. Although he did once say “not bad for two young bucks” after my acting partner and I finished a scene. It was the nicest thing he ever said in class. The technique is hard work, and I ran out of money before I could finish…but I found it very helpful.

  5. I like that repetition exercise. I mocked at first, but I see what you meant now once I did it.

    His “voice” makes my teeth hurt.


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