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Wednesday, 23 March 2022 15:48

Markus Flanagan holds a Meisner Masterclass with Graduating Actors

Headshots for news articles Portrait MarkusMarkus Flanagan studied at The Neighbourhood Playhouse in one of the last graduating classes taught by Sanford Meisner.

He has worked extensively in television, appearing in shows such as The Morning Show, The Rookie, Friends, CSI, Seinfeld, Major Crimes, Grey’s Anatomy, Will and Grace and in feature films such as The Kingdom, Biloxi Blues, Life As We Know It and Seven Pounds. 

On stage he has appeared in Bus Stop with Jerry Hall, Lee Blessing’s Down The Road as William Reach, and That May Well Be True and Bye Bye Birdie.

As a writer, he has written 2 full length and 10 one act plays and feature film screenplays which have sold to FOX and the Hallmark Channel. 

Markus has taught the Meisner technique for 15 years privately and for 13 years at Cal Lutheran University. He has taught across the UK and Internationally with seminars in London, Manchester, Bristol and Dublin.

Markus spoke to graduating students about the Meisner technique and its application in performance. The youngest graduate of Sanford Meisner’s acting school, The Playhouse, Markus shared his experience of studying in a building not dissimilar to DSL.

Smoking, cursing and calling teachers by their first name were all prohibited and students would be expelled if they were late without a good enough reason. Although this kind of culture was very strict, it taught him and the other actors how to be disciplined and professional.

One of the main points Markus put forward was to not be a ‘thinking’ actor. He described thinking as ‘the cancer’ of acting, whereas actors under Meisner were encouraged to live their own humanity. Whilst thinking too much puts the onus on themselves, the actor should focus on the other person and how they’re being affected by them. Markus said that acting authentically comes from not thinking or anticipating from moment to moment. Instead, actors should rely on their instincts and treat their scene like an improvisation.

There was also time for Markus to direct several students in Meisner’s well-known repetition exercise. His guided them through it with the direction: ‘say everything you hear, exactly as you hear it.’ One actor makes an observation about their scene partner, immediately putting their attention on the other person, and they repeat this piece of dialogue to one another back and forth. Markus explained that doing this allows the audience to hear what’s going on for the actor on the inside; in other words, to see them behaving truthfully.

By Henry Leigh-Hunt, One Year Diploma in Professional Acting

Alumni

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