Virtual Open House at the Neighborhood Playhouse, home of the Meisner Technique

New York’s famed Neighborhood Playhouse will host a virtual Open House for interested applicants on Thursday, July 8, at 5:30 pm. Attendees can join Playhouse faculty and alumni for an evening of informative hands-on activities and discussions of the two-year Certificate Acting Program and six-week Summer Acting Intensive. Recent alum Christina Toth (Orange is the New Black) will share her experiences from her time at the internationally renowned acting school, located at 340 East 54th Street, which will open its doors to students again for in-person classes on September 13.

Photo courtesy of The Neighborhood Playhouse.

“We’re so excited to offer this intimate, behind-the-scenes glimpse into all The Neighborhood Playhouse has to offer students and since it is a virtual Open House, we welcome interested applicants from around the world to tune in,” said Executive Director Pamela Moller Kareman. “We have been training some of the best award-winning actors for decades, and we are eager to meet the next class of brilliant artists.”

Founded by philanthropists Alice and Irene Lewisohn in 1915, at the forefront of the American theater renaissance, The Neighborhood Playhouse has been a major force in American theater and theater education since its inception. One of the first Off-Broadway theaters, the original Playhouse was located in the famous Henry Street Settlement House. Out of the theater’s commitment to renewing the roots of drama by mounting both classic and modern works grew a desire to focus on training and, in 1928, The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre opened its doors.

The first class, comprised of only nine students, was taught by luminaries Agnes DeMille, Louis Horst, Laura Elliott, and Martha Graham. In 1935, Sanford Meisner, one of the founding members of The Group Theatre (along with Stella Adler, Bobby Lewis, Harold Clurman, and Lee Strasberg), joined the faculty of The Neighborhood Playhouse, and, over the years, developed and refined what is now known as the Meisner Technique (a step-by-step procedure of self-investigation for the actor), now among the foremost of modern acting techniques. Meisner retired in 1990, then served as Director Emeritus of the Acting Department until his death in 1997. Today his legacy lives on in the continuation of his training, being taught to incoming students each year in The Neighborhood Playhouse’s Two Year Program.

Among the Playhouse’s acclaimed alumni are such notable stars of the stage and screen as Allison Janey, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Dylan McDermott, Joanne Woodward, Griffin Dunne, Mackenzie Davis, Robert Duvall, Ian Duff, Connie Britton, Carol Channing, Tony Randall, Martin Henderson, Sherie Rene Scott, Mary Steenburgen, David Mamet, Steve McQueen, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Geraghty, Steven Rogers, Aria Shahghasemi, Christina Toth, Christopher Meloni, Chris Noth, Christopher Lloyd, Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Grey, Gregory Peck, and many more.

Academy Award winner Robert Duvall noted, “For many many years, The Neighborhood Playhouse has proved to be a very fine training ground for actors. I am so glad that I was able to benefit from what The Playhouse has to offer. It proved to be a springboard into the reality of what was to come and the real world.”

Photo courtesy of The Neighborhood Playhouse.

On October 18, 2018, New York City Council honored The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre and Sanford Meisner with a Proclamation in recognition of its 90 years of outstanding work and his profound contributions. The Neighborhood Playhouse remains the only conservatory where the faculty was trained to teach acting by Meisner himself.

This week’s 90-minute virtual Open House will feature an introduction to The Playhouse by the Executive Director and members of the faculty, who will also give a brief overview of the school. Members of the faculty will teach sample classes and guests will get to participate in a unique series of free hands-on sessions, including Meisner Technique Acting and Acting on Camera. The evening will conclude with staff, faculty, and working alumni speaking about their experience and why they chose to study at The Neighborhood Playhouse.

Reservations are required for the virtual Open House on Thursday, July 8, beginning at 5:30 pm, and space is limited. For more information and to reserve a spot, go online.


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