The NYC Meisner Summer Intensive training program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio introduces actors to Meisner Technique training. In this interview Shadia talks about how the six week program changed her view of acting and her career.
Before you started the six week summer intensive what did you think it meant to train as an actor?
I moved to New York 10 years ago, and I’ve been on stage singing, acting, what I thought was acting and surrounded by colleagues, some of which had trained, and some that maybe fell into this through another angle as I had. My idea, to be quite honest, about acting, was that it something that was just talent based. Acting came from within and you either had it or you didn’t. Now, mind you, I had trained as a musician. I do have that background and idea of what it was to train as a singer and as a pianist. Waking up at 5 am to be at a conservatory at six and play four hours straight.
I do have that idea, but I did not know that acting required so much depth and how much you have to dig inside of yourself, to be yourself on stage. It’s mind-blowing really because we’re all different and so is how we bring that unique quality to an imaginary character. All this blew my mind during these past six weeks. I know I’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg, it’s only the surface, but the work that I did throughout these six weeks demystified acting quite a bit for me. I know it’s attainable through training. It’s no longer “he has it, she doesn’t, he has it, she doesn’t”, whatever but it’s something that is a combination of not just talent but training, and serious commitment.
What happened during these six weeks that changed your perspective on acting and professional training?
What happened during these six weeks? I found myself living intensely and discovering and getting in touch with myself so much more than I hadn’t done in a while if ever, to be honest. That desire to bring emotion and life into a character just drove me through the whole six weeks. I’ve always wanted to become someone else on stage, I’ve always wanted to, but I didn’t know how. And, how? I don’t know if I know it yet, but being in touch with myself, seeing what stirs me within, what makes me laugh, what makes me cry, what makes me angry, is something that I had not taken the time to think about. These six weeks have been revealing in that way.
What surprised and that changed you?
A surprise? How much we bottle up inside, how much we resist our emotions, how much conditioning we have to break through in order, to be honest about who we are and what we feel. The moment I released the pressure within me and I allowed it to flow through me was one of the most real moments maybe in my life. And doing that in front of strangers is not easy to do, but it’s something that I learned. I mean, I was able to get– I knew I had feelings inside of me, I just didn’t know how I was able to get them out in a truthful, honest way. Realizing and discovering everything that I have to offer as an artist, as a human being on the stage was something beautiful.
How would you describe Charlie as an acting teacher?
Charlie is very intense, he’s very honest, but he’s also very sweet and enduring. When I decided to take the step after years on stage in New York, after reaching that point where I feel that I had to break through, that I was too comfortable, I decided to take a summer off. Crazy. Take a summer off, not work, and train. It’s one of the bravest things I’ve done within my adult life, where everything has to be secure and safe, and you have to know what’s coming, what’s the next thing. I decided that I was just going to play it a little bit unsafe for a while and see what’s out there.
After looking at other schools. After doing the rounds and meeting other studios, when I met him, I felt that he was the one I needed to study with. He was honest. He understood what training is as an artist of another craft, which is music, to someone who is a performing actor. We understood each other that way. But I also could tell that he was not going to let me slide by. I could tell that he expected each one of us to bring it, each class. Very high standards that he set for us. He made us set high standards for ourselves as well as artists. So that’s something that I could tell when I met him for the first time, and I confirmed throughout the six weeks. He made me work very hard. He made me cry. I felt ashamed about myself, about the work if I didn’t do what I thought was enough. It might never be enough because there’s always somewhere else to go and he lets us know that. But he also tells us when we’re doing work in the correct way.
To learn more about the Meisner Summer Intensive at the studio, call 917-789-1599 today to schedule your admission interview.
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