Unlike method actors, Meisner actors are trained to work externally, from the outside in. Method actors, on the other hand, work internally, using emotional recall and sense memory exercises.
What types of exercises do Meisner actors do?
The Meisner technique offers actors a way to “get out of their heads” and into their environments. Meisner actors are trained to work externally, from the outside, by reacting to the stimulus that is thrown at them; they believe that acting is reacting. At the start of any Meisner training program, actors begin with a series of repetition exercises, in which they will make eye contact with a partner and repeat certain words and phrases. For example, two actors might sit, facing one another, and say a phrase such as: “Why did you take my shoes?” back-and-forth, over and over again to one another. While doing so, they react to whatever emotions and subtext organically come up in the process. This approach serves to make actors better listeners — and helps them to be more engaged with their surroundings.
Revised – Original content courtesy of the Kids Top Hollywood Acting Coach