Spotlight on a Star: Don Bloomfield

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Don Bloomfield

Actor/Acting Coach Don Bloomfield.

I have had the pleasure of studying with some wonderful acting coaches throughout my experience so far in Hollywood.  One of the most influential acting coaches I have studied with is Mr. Don Bloomfield, an exceptional teacher and kind individual whom I first met through the excellent acting program, “Carolyne Barry Creative,” developed by acting coach/mentor Carolyne Barry.

It was Don Bloomfield who originally introduced me to the “Meisner Technique,” an acting technique created by acting coach Sanford Meisner which is based upon “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”  Studying this acting technique has since influenced my acting career – as well as my life overall – in a very positive way!  In this interview, Don shares insight on the “Meisner Technique” as well as other helpful information for actors!

Don Bloomfield’s Background

I asked Don Bloomfield about his background and what motivated him to pursue a career in entertainment.  (Turns out that he is from the wonderful city of Boston - where I am from, too!)  He explained:

“I come from Boston, and in high school I knew that my inability to focus needed an outlet that I would be passionate enough about to want to focus on.  I had done a few plays in Junior High as a means of getting out of normal class, so I decided to follow through on this by joining the Boston Children's Theater.  After having performed in a couple of plays and doing a local on-camera class, I decided to commit to this passion full time in college by declaring “theater” as my co-major alongside English.  College provided me the balance I needed educationally to expand my horizons and have a better overall scope of what it takes to be not just an ambitious actor, but hopefully one day a meaningful actor.  And there is a great difference between the two.”

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The Meisner Technique

Don Bloomfield with Acting Coach Sanford Meisner in 1996.

The Meisner Technique

In the 1980s Don studied with famous acting coach Sanford Meisner – creator of the “Meisner Technique.”  He shares a little bit about his experience, and why he believes that the “Meisner Technique” is helpful for actors.  He said:

“Sanford Meisner was one of my two primary teachers at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York back in the 80s.  He was without doubt the keenest and most perceptive man I ever encountered, despite his advancing age at the time.  He taught me the critical necessity of focus, listening to the other actor on a much deeper level, as opposed to just self-consciously waiting for my cue to speak.  [Listening would] enable me to react off of their behavior and not robotically off their line, as well as teaching me the reality of "truthfully doing" under the imaginary circumstances, and finally always being emotionally prepared to do any scene.  The actor's emotional muscle is vital to moving his or her audience and it takes time to build.  An actor without emotional depth may as well be a newscaster or a paperboy calling out the headlines.”

In my own experience as an actor, studying the “Meisner Technique” has helped me in numerous ways; it has helped me to connect to material in an acting scene and – as Don points out – the technique has helped me to learn how to truly in a scene with me.  Acting is being.   In all areas of my life, I find that the teachings of Meisner help me to connect to the present moment, to be, and to “live truthfully.”

Living Truthfully  

Don Bloomfield explains why “living truthfully” is the most important part of the “Meisner Technique”:  

“The most important part of the Meisner technique is the understanding that all roads must lead to the actor living truthfully under the imaginary circumstances.  Listening and answering instead of anticipating - the reality of ‘doing’ and having a feeling for the world that exists around you - is part of life as we know it.  This cannot discontinue simply because the life we are living in is imaginary.  It is the actor's job to be as rooted as he or she can be.  That is called their foundation, upon which all else is built.  First things first!” 

Acting Techniques:  Which is the “Best One”?

While the “Meisner Technique” is certainly very helpful to many actors and is highly respected, it is not the only one technique for an actor to study.  I asked Don Bloomfield if he believes that there is an acting technique that is the “best” one for an actor to study.  He replied:

“There are several techniques, many of them quite excellent.  But more important than the technique is the person teaching it.  Do they understand it fully themselves?  Don't be so sure.  Do they genuinely care about each individual's personal needs, his or her personal blocks such as inhibition, self-consciousness, inability to become emotionally free?  Or do they treat the class as one big block of actors?  These are some of the questions an actor needs to ask before settling on a teacher.  I also recommend at the start a student avoid a "scene study" class where they throw you into scenes before you have a foundation and primarily direct the student on how to play the scene.  This does nothing to teach the student the building blocks of becoming a great actor.  First the actor must learn the importance of listening, of truthfully doing, of emotionally preparing.  It's like becoming a great carpenter who knows how to use his tools before building a house!   To my knowledge the Meisner Technique is the only technique that truly focuses on these foundational building blocks.  The other well-known techniques are more for advanced actors who already have that foundation to build off of.  Great classes to join perhaps, but not before the actor feels confident with his Meisner technique.”

(Don is an example of a coach who genuinely understands the technique that he teaches.  He is truly a master of the technique!)  

Don’s Advice for Anyone Considering a Career in Entertainment

Finally, Don shares his advice for anyone who is considering a career in the entertainment business:  

“I would advise them only do it out of love and passion, as corny as that sounds.  Ego and ambition for wealth and fame can't sustain the actor for the duration they will need to forge their careers.  When you do things not because you have to do them but because you love to do them, you will fret less about what everyone else thinks.  You will take rejection and the hundreds of contradicting opinions about you with a grain of salt, because you will know deep inside you act for YOU, for YOUR joy of expression.  You cannot, and will not, ever please everybody.  So you may as well do it to please yourself.  There is nothing like joy and freedom of expression to make an actor's inner light shine bright, and we all know how light attracts us all.”

Thank you, Don, for your wonderful advice and for being such a great teacher and a helpful and kind member of the entertainment industry!