Q: I’ve studied the Meisner technique before. Can I transfer directly into the second year of training at the William Esper Studio?
A: The term Meisner technique is used by many schools and teachers. The
acting teachers in our studio are carefully chosen and trained in William Esper’s particular vision of Sanford Meisner’s work. Trying to compare one approach to actor training with another is rather like comparing apples with oranges; yes, they are both fruits but they are also very different. Experience has shown us that the 1st year work is enormously important in that it sets the quality of an actor’s work for the rest of his or her career. With rare exceptions, we have not been successful in attempts to bring into our program second year students who have done 1st year Meisner training elsewhere. You must understand that William Esper worked with Sanford Meisner for 17 years, first as a student and then for 15 years as a teacher and director. Thereafter, he spent the following 25 years as the founding director of one of America’s most important conservatories. His background gives him a particular point of view about Meisner’s work and the part it plays in training exceptional actors.
Q: Do you have options available if I can only take class at night? Only during the day?
A: We have both options, especially if you decide to do the Part-Time or Core Programs.
The Full-Time Program at the Esper Studio requires you to attend class throughout the day.
Q: Can I receive private coaching from one of the teachers at the Studio?
A: Current students and alumni may request coaching for a particular audition or part and the faculty will do their best to accommodate them. Some of our teachers do extensive coaching with individual working professionals. We do not offer private training in technique. Acting is best taught in small groups. There is such a thing as a class that is too large and also such a thing as a class that is too small. Scripts are about what happens between people; for this reason acting classes need a diverse assortment of ages, backgrounds and types.
Q: I have never taken acting classes before. Can I still attend the studio?
A: Previous acting experience is not necessarily a prerequisite to study. The Studio’s
student population is made up of many working professionals and very dedicated pre-professionals. What is most important to us in assessing an applicant is that they have a serious commitment to training. One important indication of this is that the applicant has learned as much about the studio as possible.
Q: When do the next sessions start?
A: Acting classes begin three times a year. First, there is a six-week Summer Intensive that generally runs from mid-June through the end of July. The Summer Intensive can be an introduction to the work for new-comers or a brush-up for Alumni. Second, the Fall Two Year program represents the start of the bulk of the classes at the studio. Students continuing from the Summer Intensive into the Fall Two Year program begin back at the beginning of the work. This affords them a rare opportunity to correct any problems they may have discovered during the Intensive. Third, there are two sections of Acting that begin in January. The January program runs from January through July, takes August off, and then students return in September, continuing on through the following May.
Q: How does the application process work?
A: Prospective students seeking admission may send the student application online
or call us. Applicants undergo a pre-screening with a studio administrator and, if successful, are given an appointment with the Studio Director. For a complete list of admissions requirements, please see our Admissions page.
Q: How do I increase my chances of being accepted?
A: It is important for prospective students to do a lot of research and homework to learn as much as they can about the studio and what we do here. This can be accomplished by visiting the Library on this site, and reading the articles written by Mr. Esper, the interview with Mr. Esper, and most importantly Mr. Esper’s book, The Actor’s Art and Craft: William Esper Teaches the Meisner Technique.
Q: I am not sure if I can commit to a two year program. Is it possible to study for one year or a shorter period?
A: The Studio is founded on the belief that such a thing as a professional craft of acting exists and we are dedicated to the teaching of it. We are concerned with thorough mastery of those basic principles which underlie craft and which ultimately lead the actor to truly creative and authentic performances. This process takes two years, or more precisely, 72 weeks of work which is broken into 36 week sessions. Time is an important element in any profound process. We do not believe that the results we achieve can possibly be accomplished in any less time. So, although the second year is by invitation only, we expect students to be serious enough about their training that they are prepared to commit to two years of study.
Q: Do you offer any workshops for actors not enrolled in the two year professional training program?
A: Yes. We offer a six week Summer Intensive each year from mid-June to the end of July.
Q: I am a professional actor. What happens if I begin taking classes at the Studio and then I get a job.
A: Continuity is a very important factor in the work that we do with actors just as it would be in the training of a dancer, gymnast, singer or violinist. In those instances where professional paid work is offered to an actor enrolled at the Studio, we are often able to work out a special schedule to enable the student to do the job and continue with their training. Every attempt will be made to do this. The student should bring the conflict to the attention of their Acting teacher, as well as the Studio Director if it involves classes other than Acting.
Q: Do you offer scholarships or financial aid? Does the William Esper Studio qualify for student loans or government sponsored loan programs?
A: The Studio strives to keep its fees as low as possible considering the quality of our faculty and training. There are very limited possibilities for partial tuition remissions. Most often these are granted to a few second year students. We are also able to help some needy students with work/study programs, but only in their second year. Again, this form of aid is extremely limited. We do not participate in U.S. government loans. We do have international students who have been able to secure loans in their native countries.
Q: I am currently enrolled in a college. Can the classes I take at the William Esper Studio be applied as credits towards by college degree?
A: It is not uncommon for students enrolled at the Studio to receive college credit. However, it does depend on the college or university. Some do and some don’t.
Q: Can I audit a class at the Studio?
A: We believe that the classroom represents a personal laboratory for the students. In order for them to progress they must be supported and encouraged to take chances. They must feel absolutely safe and, most importantly, have the freedom to fail. It takes some time to develop a safe atmosphere which allows students to take the kind of risks that are necessary for their personal progress. Strangers trooping in and out of the classroom ruin this atmosphere. For this reason we do not allow auditing.