Actors, Meisner, and Embodied Cognition

I first heard of Sanford Meisner when I did the Vagina Monologues last year. In the last six months, however, his acting technique has become an integral part of my training regimen.

I’ve been studying the Meisner Technique with Rachael Adler of the Waterfront Conservatory (formerly known as Studio Magnetic). One of the key tenants that Rachael, a former student of Meisner’s at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, ceaselessly hammers home is giving your instrument everything it needs to be truthful. And a few ways to do that include honoring a writer’s character, set, and wardrobe specs.

Now, Rachael and Sandy Meisner have scientific proof to back up their tried-and-true tenant. According to Dr. Adam Galinsky, a professor who led a study about embodied cognition at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, “it’s not enough to see a doctor’s coat hanging in your doorway.”

In an April 2 New York Times article, “Mind Games: Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat,” Galinsky told reporter Sandra Blakeslee that “you have to wear the coat, see it on your body and feel it on your skin for it to influence your psychological processes… Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state.”

Blakeslee’s NYT article is quite fascinating; check it out here.

Photo by Dov Harrington

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