Ego & The Meisner Technique
I remember when my mentor, the great Meisner teacher Larry Silverberg told us from day one that whatever you think this method is, it’s so much more. Promise. I constantly rediscover deeper and deeper meaning in this statement.
I’m not sure Sanford Meisner knew just how deep his process went but I believe that when he came up with his method, there was something greater working through him. As such the method does the same thing for it’s students.
So let’s get to it.
Your ego is your biggest enemy — in your life and in your acting. Not ego as some self-inflated, prideful characteristic. Ego in its deepest sense. This thing that you have created to protect yourself from the world. From dangers that are mostly imaginary that are all based on past experience and the projection of your mind. This thing that tries to control you and everything that is around you.
The problem is that you don’t have control. In your life or in your work as an artist. You do not control others around you. You do not control what your partner might do or how they might do it.
Meisner understood this. He understood that for a true act of creation to occur, the actor must become as selfless as they can be. So the attention therefore must be taken off of themselves. It must be outward, which means that you must surrender control — but as mentioned, you never had control to begin with.
It’s a scary place to work from at first, but don’t worry, that’s just the ego. When you discover the rewards of working from a place of not knowing and instead a place of trusting, you will wonder how you did anything before.
You will cry out to take that leap into the unknown again and again. You will discover a pure joy of expression. You will discover creation working in you, through you and as you, and experience a true act of creation.
Evan C. Schulte