I am always delighted how other fields can feed into practise. I have been lucky enough to practise with a number of actors who are influenced by the acting approach of Sanford Meisner.
They have often commented on parallels between his methods and the ones we employ in freeform Aikido. What appeared of primary importance to me was what seems to be Meisner’s focus on the partner in the relationship, and how this frees the actor into spontaneous “trueness”. This is in opposition to an individualistic approach where the actor focuses is on themselves and what they doing to act. From what I have gleaned there appears to be a similar sense that this propels the participants into the moment.
I have only cursorily reviewed Meisner work and would really like to hear from Meisner practitioners who could illumine more of the thinking behind it….
I practised and studied the craft of acting before I came to Aikido. Almost everything that Meisner taught – and this is my understanding gleaned from intensivie study with one of his pupils, Tom Radcliffe, is that as an actor, everything you do depends on the other actor. Consequently, the actor is in the liberating position of not doing anything until something happens to make him do it. All of the early exercises and improvisational approaches illuminate this principle. It encourages the actor to work from instinct rather than thought. This seems to me to be very applicable to Aikido where, as I understand it, one’s response is based on what reaches into you from the other person. The free exchange of energy leads the practitioners to a deeper connection with their partners.
I studied Aikido with Sensei Donovan Waite in the mid-1990s at the Meisner Extension at NYU. Founder and Tony nominee Lauri Peters saw direct parallels with Meisner and Aikido and so do I.
Peace and Love,