A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 10, 2022
“Act before you think” (acting adage)

“Act before you think” (the reverse of the popular saying “think before you act”) is an acting adage that has been printed on several images. The saying is credited to acting teacher Sanford Meisner (1905-1997).
       
“Two casually instructive signs: ACT BEFORE YOU THINK. AN OUNCE OF BEHAVIOR IS WORTH A POUND OF WORDS” was printed in the book The Victims: The Wylie-Hoffert Murder Case and Its Strange Aftermath (1969) by Bernard Lefkowitz and ‎Ken Gross. “The signs carry admonitions like “Be Specific,’ ‘Act Before You Think’ and ‘An Ounce of Behavior is Worth a Pound of Words’” was printed in the New York (NY) Times on April 7, 1985. “‘Act before you think - your instincts are more honest than your thoughts’ Sanford Meisner” was posted on Twitter by The Actors Pulse on May 17, 2010.
   
       
Wikipedia: Sanford Meisner
Sanford Meisner (August 31, 1905 – February 2, 1997) was an American actor and acting teacher who developed an approach to acting instruction that is now known as the Meisner technique. While Meisner was exposed to method acting at the Group Theatre, his approach differed markedly in that he completely abandoned the use of affective memory, a distinct characteristic of method acting. Meisner maintained an emphasis on “the reality of doing”, which was the foundation of his approach.
 
The Meisner technique
Meisner’s unusual techniques were considered both unorthodox and effective. Actor Dennis Longwell wrote of sitting in on one of Meisner’s classes one day, when Meisner brought two students forward for an acting exercise. They were given a single line of dialogue, told to turn away, and instructed not to do or say anything until something happened to make them say the words (one of the fundamental principles of the Meisner technique). The first student’s line came when Meisner approached him from behind and gave him a strong pinch on the back, inspiring him to jump away and yelp his line in pain. The other student’s line came when Meisner reached around and slipped his hand into her blouse. Her line came out as a giggle as she moved away from his touch.
     
Google Books
The Victims:
The Wylie-Hoffert Murder Case and Its Strange Aftermath

By Bernard Lefkowitz and ‎Ken Gross
New York, NY: Putnam
1969
Pg. 53:
Eight hours a day for two years, they practiced dance exercises in a mirrored studio, rehearsed scenes in a small green-and-blue basement theater, and studied their scripts in a cozy wood-beamed library adorned with two casually instructive signs: ACT BEFORE YOU THINK. AN OUNCE OF BEHAVIOR IS WORTH A POUND OF WORDS.
   
Google Books
How to Make it in Hollywood
By Wendy Elliott Hyland and ‎Roberta Haynes
Chicago, IL: Nelson-Hall
1975
Pg. 87:
Three, “Act before you think.”
(Advice from Sanford Meisner.—ed.)
 
Newspapers.com
16 February 1975, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “He’s a nice boy, this Rhoda’s Joe” by Clifford Terry, Magazine sec., pg. 22, col. 2:
“One of my teachers, Sandy Meisner, used to say: ‘Act before you think.’”
(Spoken by David Groh.—ed.)
 
7 April 1985, New York (NY) Times, “Dedicated To the Religion Of Acting” by Stephen Fife, pg. H5, cols. 1-2:
The signs carry admonitions like “Be Specific,” “Act Before You Think” and “An Ounce of Behavior is Worth a Pound of Words.”
(At the Neighborhood Playhouse School, on East 54th Street between First and Second Avenue.—ed.)
     
Newspapers.com
29 December 1987, Daily News (New York, NY), “Is Jeff Goldblum Blue? Just Around the Edges” by Bart Mills, pg. 34, col. 3:
As he (Jeff Goldblum—ed.) does on screen, he follows the advice of his old acting teacher, Stanley Meisner: “Act before you think. Leap before you look.”
 
Google Books
Twentieth Century Actor Training
By Alison Hodge
London, UK: Routledge
2000
Pg. 142:
Acting for Meisner is in the doing; from this all other facets of the role emerge. In his classroom were posted signs which read: ‘Act Before You Think’, and ‘An Ounce of Behavior Is Worth a Pound of Words’.
     
Google Books
Forever Mame:
The Life of Rosalind Russell

By Bernard F. Dick
Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi
2006
Pg. ?:
Jehlinger would have questioned Meisner’s two principles, “Act before you think” and “An ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words.” Jehlinger believed that thought, in the sense of analyzing the script and working out the characterization, is part of the acting process and that the actor’s quest for truth does not mean subordinating language to behavior.
     
Twitter
The Actors Pulse
@TheActorsPulse
“Act before you think - your instincts are more honest than your thoughts” Sanford Meisner
12:46 AM · May 17, 2010
 
Google Books
Michael Chekhov and Sanford Meisner:
Collisions and Convergence in Actor Training

By Anjalee Deshpande Hutchinson
New York, NY: Routledge
2021
Pg. ?:
The Meisner technique is key for those students who naturally build walls in their work. He said: Act before you think – your instincts are more honest than your thoughts.
 
Twitter
Acting Magazine
@ActingMagazine
“Act before you think - your instincts are more honest than your thoughts.”
(Sanford Meisner)
3:30 PM · Sep 25, 2022

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film/Circus • Saturday, December 10, 2022 • Permalink


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