Stella Adler

Meisner: Crying On Cue

THERE ARE THREE (3) assignments on this page.  Make sure you do all of them.  All three are due on Friday, March 20 by 11:59 pm.  

Lesson 1 of 3 (week one - Wednesday)

#1.  The Group Theatre (Harold Clurman) 

  • Watch the 58 min. video to the right..

  • Answer the questions on the form below.​

  • When finished, move to the next assignment further down this page.

Week 1:  March 18, 19, 20 - Wed, Thurs.  Fri.

LESSON 2  (week one Thursday/Friday)

#2. The People of American Theatre Training

Watch the videos to the right and answer the questions on the form.  When finished, move to the "The power of preparation" - watch that video and answer the questions on the form.

  •  Stella Adler

  • Lee Strasberg

  • Sanford Meisner


  • The Power of Preparation - Crying on Cue

Lee Strasberg #1

Stella Adler

Lee Strasberg #2

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Sanford Meisner teaching

Meisner - Crying on Cue

Harold Clurman and The Group Theatre


Week 2:  March 30 - April 3

One Lesson - Two Parts

THERE ARE TWO parts in this week' s assignment:  March 30 - April 3:  

Part one:  Watch the video, read the assignment and make a decision about your animal.  

Part Two:  Do the exercise on your own - and then answer the questions about your discoveries.

Lessons 1 & 2

#1.  The Group Theatre (Harold Clurman) 



  • Watch the 8 min. video to the right.

  • Do the exercise explained below.

  •  Find a private place where you can do this without embarrassment or interruption.

  • Explore all aspects of the animal/character.


  • Answer the questions on the form to the right..

Exercise (part 1) Do this on your own:

Build your character with animal work.

Lee Strasberg introduced the animal exercise into an actor’s training and preparation for a role. It is still taught today in most drama schools and really helps you to build a deeper physical characterization of any role.

Marlon Brando famously observed apes for his role as Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire, Lee J Cobb who played Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman watched elephants so he could create ‘the weight of the world on his shoulders’, Julia Roberts watched dogs in a dog shelter who had been victims of abuse for her role as abused wife Laura in Sleeping With The Enemy, even Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura watched pigeons for the role.

Have you ever looked at someone and thought they were quite bird-like, or maybe someone who is so hyper all, the time that they are like an excited golden retriever puppy

Here are the step by step instructions:

  • Choose an animal to study, using your character in your scene as inspirationtry and find an animal whose traits most closely match your character.

  • You next need to observe that animal – so either go to the zoo or go online where you can watch that animal.  

    • YouTube is full of nature videos where you can really examine the creature in its natural habitat. 

    • Observe the animal and then physicalize your discoveries..

  • Don’t begin with imitation,

    • spend a long time just observing. Be as specific as possible in your observation of the animal.

      • What is the creature’s posture?

      • How does it move?

        • When does it move and why does it move?

      • Explore even the tiniest details.

  • Start to imitate the animal's physical behaviour.,

    • Be as specific as possible.

  • How is your animal shaped?

    • Think about the curve in its back.

      • How does that effect the way it moves?

    • Does your animal have fins, hooves, paws, or hands?

    • Does your animal have a tail?

    • Does your animal have fur, feathers, scales?

      • Is its skin smooth, bumpy, hot or cold?

      • Think about how its skin feels.

    • What is the shape of your animals ears?

    • How about its nose?

    • Does it have a snout?

    • What about its mouth?

    • Do the shape of its nose and mouth making eating and drinking easier or more difficult?

  • Where are its eyes located?

    • Do they face front or are they farther on the sides of its face?

​Part Two:
Study as patiently as you can and mirror the animal and try to transfer the animal’s thoughts to your own thoughts.  Now add  the inner life: 


  • What are you (the animal) thinking as you move from one place to another?

  • Why did you (the animal) just stop still and look intently into the distance?

  • What are you (the animal) thinking?

Part Three:
Once you are feeling comfortable gradually humanise the animal and stand it up.


  • Retain the strength of your behaviour but make it more subtle and gradually bring it down to a human behaviour

    • Keep the physical and phychological aspects of the creature but transform them to the human character.


  • Ask yourself the same questions: 

    • What are you (the character) thinking as you move from one place to another?

    • Why did you (the character) just stop still and look intently into the distance?

    • What are you (the character) thinking?


This exercise will help you to open up different layers of the character and get more of an insight into deep down what makes them tick. The exercise will open you up as a performer and stretch your boundaries and inhibitions.  So have some fun exploring and creating characters from the animal world.


The video below illustrates a number of actors work on animals.  Animal Work is a characterization exercise that  helps you discover unique rhythms to your body based upon the animal's behavior as it relates to survival in the wild, the shape and movement of the backbone, the animal's center of gravity, the business of seeing the world through the animal's mind.