The evolution of a modern acting technique
Its history, functions and adaptations


Created in the United States by Sanford Meisner, this technique is used by some of the most famous actors in Hollywood.

Although little known to the general public, due to its inventor's reluctance to document work, it is in fashion among today's professional actors.
"My favorite scenes, or at least the ones in which I think the actors shine the most, are the kind of Meisner technique, when two people are face to face, and it's almost an exercise in rehearsal."

Timothée Chalamet

Some other actors trained in the Meisner technique:



This current trend also suffers from a general lack of understanding of its structure, and a multitude of approaches and adaptations of its fundamental exercises are emerging.

Sometimes in an interesting way for the actor, but most often by ignorance of his history and his functions.

If you take a Meisner course in Paris, you will be surprised to see that two teachers not only teach it differently, but sometimes have contradictory ideas.

This lack of knowledge of this fascinating subject is too often justified by the practical aspect of this approach.

Sanford Meisner's teaching was Socratic, where theory is developed by the trainees themselves, based on their practice or in response to questions from the trainer.

As is too often the case in acting classes, an actor who becomes aware of the shortcomings, inconsistencies, and even dangers of certain approaches, may be told that there are no answers to his or her questions, except through practice. Or that the theory will come later, when he is ready.

On this subject, however, Meisner was very clear:
"If someone is teaching you something and you don't understand what they are talking about, neither do they."

Sanford Meisner



At a time when Stanislavski's system had not yet been well imported and translated in the United States, and caught up in his teaching and acting career, Meisner was reluctant to document his work, and his research.

Although a contemporary of Milton Erickson, whose development in modern hypnosis had not yet been popularized, decoded and popularized by the two inventors of NLP, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, Meisner did not have the tools to distill, individualize and detail his approach in a way that he could pass on to the greatest number.

His teacher's training, training of teachers in his approach, was done by proposing to some of his former students to become his apprentices: about twenty, throughout his life.

Without official and regulated certification, self-proclaimed teachers have multiplied.
"At the end of every month there are a thousand actors walking around calling themselves 'acting teachers,' and I can't tell you how many claim to have studied with me. And just because you studied with me doesn't mean you're qualified to teach! If someone tells you they teach the Meisner Technique, ask them if they have my blessing and observe their reaction. Trust your intuition, you'll know."

Sanford Meisner

"The proliferation of the Meisner technique has led to its dilution. Many teachers across the United States claim to be teaching authentic versions of Sandy's work, but they are not. One of the pitfalls of the Meisner technique is that the early exercises are easy to learn, and easy to teach. This attracts many under-qualified practitioners. They teach versions of the rehearsal exercise and pretend to teach Meisner's work without progressing to the next steps, all of which are necessary to build truly accomplished actors, and capable of creating characters with rich and magnetic inner lives."

William Esper



Sanford Meisner and his student Jeff Goldblum, also a pianist and teacher of the Meisner technique.
Sanford Meisner was a concert pianist.

In the continuity of Stanislavski's system, and as he had learned for music, he established an approach to acting where each fundamental step can be practiced separately, consistently and continuously.

However, Meisner did not want to call it a method, as Strasberg wanted, which would be like a recipe.

He hesitated to even call it a technique.

In reality, Sanford Meisner's approach to the game is not a method or technique of playing, but a method of learning or teaching the game.

Meisner's genius was to break down the essential issues of acting into a series of exercises that everyone can practice, either in class or on their own outside, to know exactly where they stand with their work, and how to use it for their craft.

Too often, theater teachers become directors in order to obtain results in class that are no longer reproducible by the actor outside in a less familiar setting.

An actor must therefore learn to self-direct, and if it is indeed a question of practice, of organic experience and of letting go, this work must be done in awareness of one's own functioning, at least at the beginning, in order to be able to reproduce or adapt it on command, without thinking about it.
"An actor must learn to do consciously what everyone else does unconsciously."

Sanford Meisner




After studying science (mathematics and physics in preparatory classes, then philosophy of science and knowledge), Octave turned to psychology and cognitive science, and became interested in research in 3 areas in particular: creativity, education and therapy.

Interested in the processes of personal development and liberation, he also trained in contemporary tools of "brief therapies" and coaching such as NLP orEricksonian Hypnosis, of which he is a certified Master Practitioner by the Society of NLP.

After training as an actor, he discovered many Russian and American techniques (among others : Constantin STANISLAVSKI, Stella ADLER, Sanford MEISNER, Lee STRASBERG, Eric MORRIS...) and it is the Meisner technique which particularly attracts his attention, beyond the unexpected sincerity that it confers to the actor, by its healthy, playful and simple side.

Noticing from the start the links with his previous fields of study, he also realizes the variety of his approaches in the world. He then created the Paris Meisner Studio to bring qualified teachers to Paris, in order to continue training in the right way while exploring complementary aspects of this technique, its history and evolution.

In his quest to perfect the understanding of the Meisner technique for himself and other students, he has established a novel system of research and development of which the Meisner & Systemic Coaching program is the result.

In parallel to his teaching and directing activities, Octave continues to train in various related fields to enrich this research, having begun, among others, a 5-year Gestalt therapist program at theEPG, training as a trainer with SCORF and training in Brad Blanton 's Radical Honesty tools (derived from Gestalt therapy and Ericksonian hypnosis, and aligned with the development of the Meisner technique's viewpoint work).

As well as traditional meditation techniques and Buddhist systems of mind-body connection, especially Vipassana.

"I envy all of you who are discovering Sandy for the first time."

Sydney Pollack



Mainly, the Meisner technique solves an essential problem of Stanislavski's approach: that of spontaneity.

Beyond the emotional or physical truth, there is a form of self-indulgence in the actor's self-stimulation of Strasberg's method or even Stanislavski's system, which Meisner found introverted.

The actors waited for their lines and only came alive when they spoke.

And, as Anton Chekhov said to Stanislavski:
"Your actors 'play' well, but it still feels like they know what's going to happen ahead of time."

Anton Chekov, à Stanislavski

Meisner developed great tools as a basis for a very personal and individual research for the actor, which have also evolved a lot throughout his career and have sometimes been badly imported and translated.

The approaches to the Meisner technique taught by his successors have sometimes been in complementary or contradictory directions.

The search for the essence of this beautiful technique, its history and evolution, in the light of contemporary tools of change and current scientific knowledge(Ericksonian Hypnosis, NLP, Cognitive Sciences, meditation techniques, evolutionary psychology...) is the reason for the existence of Paris Meisner Studio.

Our Meisner & Systemic Coaching course is the culmination of this ongoing research and development program.

The rest of our educational story in 3 parts: