What is the Meisner Technique?

What is the Meisner Technique?

The Meisner Technique is widely regarded as the most powerful and effective actor training method. Students who aspire to be professional actors will do well to consider studying the the technique as part of their training.

The Meisner Technique refers to a unique actor training program developed by Sanford Meisner in the early-to-mid 20th century. Meisner was an American actor and acting teacher who trained some of Hollywood’s leading actors. His career spanned almost 70 years.

Meisner’s methodology is rooted in the ideas formed by Konstantin Stanislavski. Stanislavski was a Russian theatre practitioner who created a ground breaking system of acting techniques. His techniques were aimed at eliciting real and evocative performances from theatrical actors. Stanislavski’s method was absorbed and developed further by American practitioners such as Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler and Sanford Meisner. They created their own acting philosophies based on Stanislavski’s core concept of realism in performance to train actors for both theatre and cinema.


Some of the most respected and successful actors in film, TV and theatre have built their careers from training in the technique. Many of whom were trained first hand by Meisner himself.

The list of Meisner Technique students includes well-known actors such as: Sam Rockwell, Michael Shannon, Naomi Watts, Grace Kelly, Jeff Goldblum, Robert Duvall, Christoph Waltz, Gregory Peck, James Gandolfini, Jon Voight, Peter Falk, Diane Keaton, Sydney Pollack, Jon Voight, Michelle Pfeiffer, Maureen Stapleton, Jack Nicholson, Anthony Hopkins, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Fontaine, Lee Grant and Kathy Bates.

Take it from a director: if you get an actor that Sandy Meisner has trained, you’ve been blessed.

Legendary director Elia Kazan on Meisner actors



The Meisner Technique differs from other forms of method acting. It is marked by its characteristic reliance on the on the actor’s external world and their capacity to imagine themselves in new circumstances. The focus on the external means the method has immediate effect actors, helping train their instrument and developing their acting talents from the ‘get-go’. Unlike Strasberg’s approach, commonly referred to as ‘method acting’, the Meisner Technique does not require the actor to recall painful past events to fuel their performance. Instead, actors are trained to use the truthful aspects of themselves and their emotional reality to create new, ‘safer’, imaginary circumstances they can truthfully live within.

In essence, the Meisner Technique is a set of practical exercises designed to progressively take the actor out of their comfort zone. This enables them to easily inhabit the skin of the character they are portraying. It is what makes Meisner acting so unique and often leads to powerful and exhilarating performances. An actor trained in the Meisner Technique can move through characters and imaginary situations to convincingly portray characters that do not represent their own personal traits.

Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.

Sanford Meisner on Acting



Students wishing to train in the Meisner Technique in London have a number of options to choose from. However, it should be noted that the quality of these opportunities vary greatly from school to school.

At the Actors Door Studio we pride ourselves on being the only acting school with a completely tailored approach to teaching the full Meisner Technique. Under our guidance we look at the individual student’s natural strengths and weaknesses. By focusing on their strengths, we bring attention to their weaknesses, and continue to work on these areas to develop their skills up to a professional standard.

We continually strive for excellence and are motivated by developing quality rather than quantity. As such, our classes are small and focused, ensuring you get the most out of our instruction and an experience that will change your perception of acting.

Get in touch with the Actors Door Studio today to find out more about the Meisner Technique in London, and to find out why we are considered one of the best Meisner drama schools in the capital.