Sanford Meisner, a renowned American actor and acting teacher, developed the “repeat exercise” as a fundamental technique in his approach to acting known as the Meisner Technique. The repeat exercise is a foundational exercise that helps actors develop truthful and spontaneous reactions in their performances.
Meisner believed that acting should be based on truthful emotional responses rather than preconceived ideas or calculated actions. He wanted actors to engage in a genuine and organic way with their fellow actors and the given circumstances of a scene. The repeat exercise was designed to help actors get out of their heads and connect with the present moment.
In the repeat exercise, two actors face each other and repeat a simple phrase or action while observing and responding to each other’s behavior. The purpose of this exercise is to focus actors on their partner’s behavior and create truthful and authentic reactions in the moment. By repeating the action or phrase, actors are encouraged to actively listen and respond spontaneously rather than rely on predetermined choices.
Meisner believed that this exercise helped actors develop their ability to fully engage with their scene partners and be responsive to the dynamics of a scene. It emphasized the importance of active listening, observation, and being in the present moment, which are essential skills for actors to create authentic performances.
Overall, Meisner developed the repeat exercise as a means to train actors to be fully present, truthful, and responsive in their acting, enabling them to create performances that are grounded in genuine emotional experiences.