About Sanford Meisner

about sanford meisner technique

What is the Meisner Technique?

The Meisner technique is the healthiest approach to acting which took Sanford Meisner a lifetime to develop.  The Meisner Technique emphasizes living truthfully in the given imaginary circumstances and placing all of ones attention on the partner in the scene or the activity at hand. These simple practices remove self consciousness and places the actors attention on what is actually happening in the scene.

Sanford Meisner was born in 1905 and died in 1997.  His approach to acting emphasizes the health of an actor’s creative process and the joy of living in the moment of the imaginary circumstances of the film or play.  In 1931, a fervent group of young actors (including Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg) joined together to establish the Group Theatre and bring Stanislavsky’s Method acting to America.

In 1933, Meisner became disenchanted with pure Method acting which he found led to emotional distress for the actor on and off stage. From that point until his death in 1997 at age 91, Meisner developed his own technique.  A leading acting teacher who trained some of the most famous performers of the stage and screen, Sanford Meisner redefined “Method Acting” and revolutionized acting with his Meisner Technique.

In 1980, a group of his alumni got together to preserve his teachings for future generations. Directed by Sydney Pollack, the Sanford Meisner Master Class offers direct instruction from one of the most influential acting teachers of the 20th century. Edited under the supervision of the Sanford Meisner Estate, and narrated by Martin Barter, this archival footage is the only video record of Sanford himself teaching students.

Over his lifetime, Meisner trained thousands of actors including:

Alec Baldwin
Steve McQueen
Grace Kelly
Diane Keaton
Robert Duvall
Jeff Goldblum
Alec Baldwin
Sandra Bullock
David Duchovny
James Franco
Michelle Pfeiffer

and many more…

In 1982 Entertainment Tonight reported the theater opening event honoring Sanford Meisner with the Sanford Meisner theater in New York City.  Watch the archival footage below.