Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Freehold Meisner Progression Testimonials

Meisner Testimonials:

Bob Rousseau:
"I'm someone who started training as an actor later in life than many Freehold students (I had a stellar career at my high school but then I didn't do anything more about acting for a couple of decades). Because of that late start and because I've always had to juggle classes with working full time, I've always had to be very picky about what classes I take because my free time is so precious to me, and my funds aren't always stable. As I got to know more experienced actors in the Seattle community, I discovered that many of the ones who had studied at Freehold took the Meisner progression. But when I did some reading up on Meisner's philosophy and techniques, while they were somewhat interesting, the books out there didn't draw me in enough to make me feel I'd be missing much if I didn't take the class. (I'll talk more about the books later). Since the progression at Freehold is a three semester commitment, I wanted to be really sure that it was worth it.

What tipped the scales for me was when I started asking people about working with Robin specifically. You know how sometimes you ask someone about a treasured memory and a warm glow comes over them and they seem to enjoy the memory privately for a couple of seconds before answering? Time and again, that kept happening when I talked to Robin's former students about her. All of them - and I mean every single one of them - told me that working with Robin and being able to experience her passion for this craft had a profound effect on their growth as artists, and - some added - to their growth as human beings as well. It became more obvious to me that if I finished taking classes at Freehold without working with Robin, there'd be a hell of a lot I was going to miss out on.

So what was my over - all experience actually taking the class? Let me put it this way: how often has something come highly recommended to you and you found out it actually was much better than you'd heard? For all the good I'd heard about the "Robin experience", it still fell short of the real thing.

I should say that I think calling the class "The Meisner Progression" isn't quite accurate: it really should be called "Meisner and A Whole Bunch of Other Cool Shit Robin Knows". You work through a lot of the exercises and learn the techniques that you would learn in a typical Meisner program, but Robin also brings to the table a whole host of other tools and exercises in areas like movement, meditation, text examination, and preparation, so that you end up with a much meatier experience.

I liken working with Robin to working at a gym with a personal trainer: rarely does anyone push themselves as much as a personal trainer will push them. The trainer's going to make you do those extra sets of push-ups and sit-ups that you might give yourself a pass on, and while you may grouse at times, inside you know that your muscles are getting stronger month by month. Robin pushes you to work your imaginary muscles farther than you ever have - farther than you probably have thought possible - and when it's over, you realize how much stronger those muscles have become, and how much better prepared you are to face the challenges that come your way.

It was through working with Robin that I acquired one of the most important things any actor can get - an actual process on how to bring a role alive. While I've taken other classes from some extremely talented instructors that included some discussion of methods for examining text, the bulk of what I typically got was notes by the instructor as though they were directing me in a play. That is very valuable stuff, but it doesn't really give you much of a process for starting work on a role on your own, nor do you get much of a glimpse of the variety of techniques that have come to light in the theatrical world. Robin gave us tools we could use to bring the character to life in ways that went beyond what was on the printed page, and thereby make those scripted words come even more alive. And I think a huge part of that came from her making us push the limits of our imaginations for nine months.

And about those books about Meisner's techniques - while I now think part of the reason they didn't grab me is that they aren't very well written, to pick up the sports analogy again, you can read a book about playing golf, but actually having someone guide you who really knows what they're doing is going to make you much better at the game and a whole lot quicker. (Now that I've been through the progression at Freehold, I actually recommend you not read the books). And on top of all of that you get from Robin, if you're lucky like I was, you'll go through the progression with a group of actors that also work hard at it so that you feel challenged and inspired to keep up. You inevitably feel closer to those who took the journey with you. There are other talented folks teaching at Freehold who I also look forward to working with in time to focus on areas we didn't have time to cover during the progression with Robin, but I know that my ability to present truthful work grew by leaps and bounds during the past nine months.

To sum up, if you're not sure whether taking the Meisner progression at Freehold is worth your time, let me help you decide: YES! Absolutely! Be grateful that the gods have aligned the planets so that you have this opportunity and grab it!" - Bob Rousseau

"Meisner for me was really transformational and not just for the acting but really just for the rest of my everyday life.  Meisner really strives you to live in the moment and to react to things as if it is the first time, being genuine and authentic.  I do some commercial work on the side and I’ve been told that there is a new quality to my acting and that is 100% related to the work from the class.  There is another piece that I got out of Meisner which was unexpected which is that it actually changed the quality of my day to day life … it allowed me to be more present in my life … it makes life much more interesting."  - E.J. Gong

"When I was gearing up to take Meisner, everyone kept saying the same thing to me: 'It will change your life.' I was skeptical. I knew I would learn more about acting technique and would most likely improve my craft, but life changing? Silly me. Not only does it open you up in a way that allows you to act more freely and with more depth, but it opens you up in your "real" life as well. You explore parts of yourself that you didn't even know existed or had long forgotten. You go to places that are scary and uncomfortable and frustrating, but they allow you to do things you never thought you could do and in the end you come out exhilerated. It makes you more brave." - Jeff Woodbridge

"Robin is a wonderful teacher and I would work with her again in a heart beat. She is giving and encouraging, yet brutally honest at the same time. She does not let you get away with anything which is wonderful! No matter how hard you try to fight it, Robin will find a way to crack you open and bring you to new levels."- Colin Featherson

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