Saturday, November 22, 2008



“An actor is an intelligent, sensitive human being that lives truthfully under imaginary circumstances” - Sanford Meisner

Sanford Meisner was a legendary American dramatist who was among the founding members of the Group Theatre along with Stella Adler, Harold Clurman, and Lee Strasberg. Renowned for being the first to bring the work of Konstantin Stanislavsky to the American stage, the Group Theatre, and particularly Strasberg, is credited with devising the American version of the Method, quite possibly the most well known acting technique to date.

It is little known, however, that the members of the Group argued at length about what stood at the heart of the legendary technique. Where Strasberg maintained that the key to the Method lay in the practise of “affective memory” (where the actor uses memories/experiences from his/her own life as emotional motivation for a particular scene), Adler and Meisner disagreed. Eventually leaving the Group, disenchanted with the Method and eager to put his own experience to work in the formation of actors, Sanford Meisner established The Neighbourhood Playhouse in New York City (1935) where he perfected his technique and trained some of today’s best actors; among them, Jo Anne Woodward, Jon Voight, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Gregory Peck, Grace Kelly, Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, James Gandolfini, and Joan Allen.

The Meisner technique is geared at teaching the actor to “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances” through an improvisation technique based on observation and repetition.” The “Repetition Game” is the most fundamental exercise in Meisner training. Actors are asked to observe and respond to others' behavior and the subtext therein. If they can "pick up the impulse" — or work spontaneously from how their partner's behavior affects them — their own behavior will arise directly from the stimulus of the other.
Later, as the exercise evolves in complexity to include "given circumstances," "relationships," actions and obstacles, this skill remains critical. From start to finish — from repetition to rehearsing a lead role — the principles of "listen and respond" and "stay in the moment" are fundamental to the work. “

Having trained with renowned Canadian Meisner coach Jacqueline McClintock (one of the last teachers taught by Meisner himself) for over eight years Lita Tresierra and Kenneth Leonard have not only experience as actors under this technique, but have had the opportunity to produce and direct some of Montreal’s most successful and innovative theatrical contributions to date, among them Harold Pinter’s Betrayal and Good Intentions, an original piece for the Festival TransAmeriques. They both teach in Montreal where they also are prominent actors and co-creators of Seditionaire Productions, one of the city’s most original companies.

Having grown up in Costa Rica (and an LTG alumnus), Lita Tresierra is happy to be able to return to her hometown of San Jose, and even more thrilled to be able to bring this legendary technique to local actors and directors. The two workshops given will encompass the entire technique and guide the actors through from the early stages of Repetition to working the technique into scenes to be presented before an invited audience. Though novice actors are welcome (for beginners session only), the workshops are limited capacity and are geared at the experienced or professional actor and/or director. For the duration of four weeks, and a series of intensive sessions, Lita Tresierra and Kenneth Leonard will give the actors participating the foundation for training under one of today’s most reputable acting techniques.


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