William Esper is an internationally recognized authority on the work of Sanford Meisner. He is the co-author (with Damon DiMarco) of The Actor’s Art and Craft: William Esper Teaches the Meisner Technique, published by Anchor/Random House in 2008.
He is a graduate of Western Reserve University as well as the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater where he was trained as an actor by Sanford Meisner. In 1962, he undertook training as a teacher and director with Meisner and proceeded to work closely with him as a teacher and director for the next 15 years. Mr. Esper was on the staff of the Neighborhood Playhouse from 1965 to 1977 and was Associate Director of the Playhouse Acting Department from 1974 to 1977.
In 1977, he founded the BFA and MFA Professional Actor Training Programs at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts. He led the department until 2004.
In 1965, Mr. Esper founded the New York studio where he has taught concurrently with his work at the Neighborhood Playhouse and Mason Gross School of the Arts. He continues to teach at his studio today.
William Esper has been a guest artist/teacher at Canada’s Banff Festival of the Arts as well as at the National Theater School of Canada and the St. Nicholas Theater in Chicago, IL and the Schauspiel München School in Munich.
Together with his wife Suzanne, Mr. Esper has conducted numerous workshops throughout Europe, most notably at the National Film School of Denmark, The National Theater School of Norway and the State Theater of Mannheim. In 2008, he and his wife introduced Meisner’s work to Russia at the St. Petersburg State Academy of Theater.
He has worked extensively Off-Broadway and regionally. He is a member of The Ensemble Studio Theater in New York.
Mr. Esper is profiled in the book The New Generation of Acting Teachers, published by Viking Press in 1987. He is a past member of the National Board of the National Association of Schools of Theatre and a former Vice-President and Board Member of the University Resident Theatre Association. He has lectured on acting at People’s Light and Theatre Company and the Screen Actors Guild Conservatory, New York City. SAG honored him with a Certificate of Achievement for his service to the profession. Professional actors with whom Mr. Esper has worked include: Kim Basinger, Jennifer Beals, Kristen Davis, Kim Delaney, Calista Flockhart, Peter Gallagher, Jeff Goldblum, Patricia Heaton, William Hurt, Christine Lahti, John Malkovich, Gretchen Mol, David Morse, Sam Rockwell, Michele Shay, Paul Sorvino, Mary Steenburgen, Patricia Wettig, Richard Schiff, Dule Hill, Timothy Olyphant, Molly Price, Tonya Pinkins, Dean Winters, Aaron Eckhart, Wendy Malik, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Joe Lisi.
Visit the Library for William Esper’s book, The Actor’s Art and Craft, interviews with faculty, and articles written by faculty.