How is the Meisner Technique Studio different from other programs in the Bay Area?

There are a lot of acting programs in the Bay Area to choose from so we’re truly grateful for taking the time to check out The Meisner Technique Studio.

Many claim, “We’re the best acting training in San Francisco” or “We are the #1 acting school in the Bay Area.” But this implies it’s possible to be the best for everyone and every acting dream.

First of all, The Meisner Technique Studio is not for everybody but we do strive to be the very best for anyone:

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  • Who truly cares to call themselves an actor and have it actually mean something
  • Who is passionate, professional, humble, resilient, and ready to take their dream to entirely new level
  • Who wants to be a part of a community of actors, writers, directors, and filmmakers who have the same standards and respect for their dream and their investment as you do

If this is you then you are exactly the type of student we are looking for. A few other things to consider when comparing The Meisner Technique Studio to other elite programs in the Bay Area:

  1. The Faculty’s qualifications to teach world-class training
  2. The Location – The Meisner Technique Studio is located in the heart of the historic Presidio, which is one of the most beautiful settings in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We have over 3000 square feet of studio space inside the legendary SF Film Centre building; two beautiful teaching spaces side by side and parking in the Presidio is abundant, inexpensive and safe
  3. Free Private Coaching – our alumni receive private coaching for all auditions for the rest of their careers from Jim Jarrett – free of charge
  4. We offer a diverse and deep selection of Specialty Classes to help augment the training. You can find our current classes on the How We’re Different Page

A few words from Jim:

“You’ve heard the saying, ‘Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.’ I’m not saying you have to be a successful actor to be a successful teacher but I know it’s made all the difference in the world that Melissa and I are actors first and foremost. We actually have to go walk the talk, apply the teachings and then we get to come back and teach off it.

Quite honestly, I believe this is one of the greatest strengths we bring our students and because we make our livings as actors we don’t teach for a dollar bill. We teach because we love it and because it’s an honor to help anyone who cares as much as we do about the craft of acting grow into their dream.”

How is the Meisner Technique Studio different from others teaching “Meisner” in the Bay Area?

The Meisner Technique Studio was founded by Sanford Meisner’s last teaching protégé, Jim Jarrett. Jarrett is the only teacher in the Bay Area personally trained by Sandy to teach The Meisner Technique. His school is also the only Meisner training in the Bay Area with Sanford Meisner’s personal blessing to teach “his way.”

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This is an important distinction because there are several people teaching The Meisner Technique in the Bay Area. In fact, ever since Sandy passed in 1997, teaching the Meisner Technique has become big business. Shortly after Sandy’s death, the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York began to offer a six-week course on how to teach the Meisner Technique. At the end attendees received a “teaching certificate” declaring they were now certified to teach.

Thankfully this program no longer exists and if Sandy were still alive it would never have been allowed. It is impossible to learn how to teach the Meisner Technique in a six-week course.

Jim Jarrett qualifications to teach came personally from Sanford Meisner after spending six years with the legendary teacher – two in his professional, private class then two more working exclusively with Mr. Meisner both as an actor and teacher-in-training, then two more working as a teacher with Sandy as his mentor.

So this is the biggest difference in how The Meisner Technique Studio is different from every acting class or school in the Bay Area teaching The Meisner Technique:

  • Our students are trained personally by Sanford Meisner’s last teaching protégé, Jim Jarrett.
  • Our students receive The Meisner Technique exactly how Sandy wanted it presented – as pure and authentic as possible and just one branch removed from Sanford Meisner

Our Mission Statement

Our graduates are the finest trained actors in The Meisner Technique – not just in the Bay Arae, but the world.


Many teachers say they studied with Sanford Meisner. How do I know who’s legitimate and who isn’t?

Over the years we’ve had many people claim to have studied at The Meisner Technique Studio even though they were removed or they quit after a session or two.

For Sanford Meisner this practice was commonplace. As you can imagine, this infuriated him, as evidenced from his own words spoken in Jim Jarrett’s class in 1989:

“Every time the rent’s due there are a thousand actors who run around and call themselves acting teachers and I can’t tell you how many claim to have studied with me. It’s insulting. And just because you did study with me doesn’t mean you’re qualified to teach. If someone tells you they teach the Meisner Technique ask them if they have my blessing then watch their reaction. Trust your gut. You’ll know.”

If you’re meeting with anyone who claims to have studied with Sanford Meisner, ask him or her the following questions:

  • When did you study with Sandy?
  • How long did you study with him?
  • Did you actually complete the full training with him?
  • Were you personally trained by Sandy to teach?
Jim talks about Sandy & the work

Trust your gut. You’ll know.

Who teaches the classes and what is the class size?

The school’s Founder/Director, Jim Jarrett, along with Assistant Director, Melissa Thompson Esaia, teach all classes.

The maximum number of students in each class is twenty students. The class size is kept small as it’s imperative that you work every single class – and you will.

How much is tuition and how is tuition paid?

Each session lasts three months. The tuition is $1,200 for the three month session.

Tuition is due at the start of each session and may be paid by cash, check or credit card.

Tuition is non-refundable for two reasons:

  1. When you’re accepted into The Meisner Technique Studio, you’re not signing up for a series of classes, you’re committing to a three-month session of intensive training. So, like any other intensive program, if you quit at any point you don’t receive a refund.
  2. However, the main reason is a great deal is going to be asked of you and you are definitely going to be challenged. You are going to be pushed, pulled, and stretched, and you will struggle. For many people when they struggle with someone new, they quit.

In fact, the easiest and most typical thing in the world to do when we are “uncomfortable” is to quit and WE DON’T WANT YOU TO QUIT during the growing pains of the training. Our hope is that by being very clear about our refund policy, it may help you through the “uncomfortable” on your way to the “comfortable.”

The truth is most students who quit do so for the wrong reason – fear. Yet if you hang in there, all that fear, insecurity, vulnerability, and discomfort will make way for beautiful artistic and personal growth and transformation.

I’ve seen that there are multiple sessions offered. I’m not sure if this is the right fit for me. I’m uncomfortable committing that much time, expense and money.

Even if you wanted to, you can’t commit to more than one session at a time. For new students, all we want you to commit to is the first session, which lasts three months. After that session ends, all students must reapply for the next session. This process continues as long as you study with us.

What is the criteria for being accepted to return?

It’s simple:

  • If you’re passionate about your dream
  • If you’re humble and open to learning
  • If you’re professional in every sense of the word – this means you’re never late for class, you never miss class and the work you do outside of class with all of your partners is just as professional and respectful.
  • If you’re passionate, humble, dedicated and professional.

… then we will be proud to have you in class.

Does The Meisner Technique Studio offer specialty classes to augment the training?

Yes, a series of specialty classes are offered throughout the training. Students must have completed various sessions to be eligible for each class.

You can find our current Specialty Classes on the How We’re Different Page

I live in the United States, but will be moving to San Francisco to study with you. Do you provide housing?

We do not provide housing for students, but anytime a student moves to the Bay Area to study with us, we do everything possible to help with their transition. We will do anything and everything to get the word out to our entire school – students, faculty and alumni – to help you find a comfortable, safe, affordable place to live as well as a job.

I’m coming to the United States from abroad to study with you. Since you’re not an accredited university or college, can you help with that?

Unfortunately we can not at this time. Although we have students come from around the world to study with us, unless they have dual citizenship and/or are also studying at an accredited university, they can only study for as long as their visa allows them to be in the United States.

I’ve had previous training in the Meisner Technique. Do I have to start from the beginning as well?

It depends on where you studied and how long ago it was.

There are many teachers of the Meisner Technique throughout the world. Most are students of somebody who studied with somebody who may have studied with Sanford Meisner.

And there are some who actually did study with Sandy as students. But there is a tremendous difference between studying The Meisner Technique as a student and being trained to teach by someone truly qualified.

Obviously, no one was more qualified than Sanford Meisner to train his teachers. In his sixty-five years of teaching, there was only a handful he personally trained by to teach “his way.”

Since Jim Jarrett is part of this very select group and he presents the training exactly how Sandy wanted it presented, it is extremely rare that we get potential students who have been trained in the same, pure way.

Often, these students have a basic foundation and overview of the technique, but the teachings have been introduced or taught poorly so there are major gaps in their knowledge and understanding of the work.

Since this technique is meant to be a brick-by-brick development of the actor’s instrument, it is imperative that the information is presented in the exact order and in the exact way that Sandy intended.

That said, once you meet with Jim, he can determine which class is best for you based on an assessment of your foundation and your current level.

Interview Now 
January '19