Fall Conservatory

A New Era in Acting Conservatories


Meisner Technique + Yat Method: A Fusion

An innovative approach to professional performance

A revolutionary new training technique that challenges the boundaries of how we become truthful and transformative, for theater artists and performers who want to go the distance.

Our faculty and students are actors, directors, writers and dancers who are serious about digging deeply into their crafts and want to move beyond the norm. Whether early, mid or professional career, our dynamic program is geared to bring out the unexpected and visionary in us all, students and faculty. We are inclusive, inter-disciplinary, and challenged to create work that matters globally through performance.

Waterfront Production House and Conservatory trains performers of all levels in a unique core curriculum of Meisner Technique and the Yat Method, movement, vocal work and an ongoing study of our places in theater history. Our program includes guest teachers and collaborators from this country, Canada, Europe, Asia and Africa. Our goal is production, training a generation of theater and film makers. We provide an artistic home for theater artists to pursue the serious study of their craft, necessary to the creation of globally significant, cutting-edge work.



FALL 2017: Conservatory Program

Tracks for early career, mid career and professional theater artists: performers, writers, directors and dancers, with Directors Unit, Teachers Unit and Dramaturgs Unit

Fall Term 2017: September 5th – December 15th
Thanksgiving break: November 20th – 26th

Spring Term 2018: January 8th – May 25th
Easter Break: March 26th – April 1st

Summer Session 2018 (optional): June 5th – July 28th
July 4th break: July 4th

Summer in Barcelona 2018 (optional): Exact dates TBD, roughly July 2nd – Aug 10th
6 weeks of training that culminates in performance in Barcelona

2018 Full Summer Break: June 21st – September 11th

All Levels are welcome and encouraged to apply. Admission is by interview.



Fall Term 2017 Schedule:

Track placement is decided by interview with our Artistic Directors, and is determined by both your experience and what you hope to achieve in our program. Many classes have performers of varying experience as we believe strongly that all levels benefit from working together. All Tracks include Yat, Meisner and our Fusion of the two, and have classes taught by both of our Artistic Director, Tom and Rachael, as well as by other faculty.

When we accept an artist into our program, whether early career, professional, or somewhere in between, it means we believe in the artist. To that end, we have limited work-study opportunities available. If you would like to inquire about opportunities, please email leah@waterfrontplayhouse.com

We have two studios: WPHC at 2020 Fourth St in Berkeley, and JBS at 5390 Miles in Oakland.

Track 1: For both new performers and performers with experience who wish to go deeply into the Meisner Technique. Track 1 incorporates both Meisner and Yat Work, with movement and vocal work incorporated. Training begins with Meisner twice weekly and Yat once weekly. Second year of training incorporates Yat twice weekly with Meisner technique classes once weekly, with a greater emphasis on our Fusion work, bringing the two techniques together in exercises that utilize the best of both simultaneously. Adjunct classes are incorporated based on the needs of the class.  $720/month, $2,520/semester

Mondays, 6:45-9:45 at WPHC with Rachael Adler
Wednesdays, 6:30-9:30 at WPHC with Tom Bentley-Fisher and Leah Herman
Saturdays, 10:30-1:30 at WPHC with Rachael Adler

Track 2: For performers, dancers, writers and directors with a base technique and who wish to train deeply in the Yat Work. Classes include both, students who have previously trained in Yat Work with us, and students who have not, but have sufficient technique to leap in.  Technique classes are based in the Yat Work and incorporate Meisner and aspects of our Fusion work, bringing the two techniques together.

Tuesday Notes Sessions are joint with Track 3, allowing performers to come together in a larger group to meet and work with each other. Tuesday sessions are for the transmission of the formal Yat notes with ample time for exploration. Classes include visual demonstrations and examples through film, video, poetry, articles and music. Alternate Tuesdays are dedicated to scene work, giving clear examples of how Yat character work is applied in partnership with text. Members of the Director’s unit are assigned scenes to assist Track 2 and 3 performers. $480/month, $1,680/semester

Tuesdays, 6:30-9:30 at WPHC with Tom Bentley-Fisher and Leah Herman
Saturdays, either 10:30-1:30 or 2:30-5:30 at JBS with Tom Bentley-Fisher, and Rachael Adler periodically

Track 3: For performers, dancers, writers and directors who have engaged in or are ready for professional production. Technique classes are based in the Yat Work and incorporate Meisner and aspects of our Fusion work, bringing the two techniques together.

Tuesday Notes Sessions are joint with Track 2, allowing performers to come  together in a larger group to meet and work with each other. Tuesday sessions are for the transmission of the formal Yat notes with ample time for exploration. Classes include visual demonstrations and examples through film, video, poetry, articles and music. Alternate Tuesdays are dedicated to scene work, giving clear examples of how Yat character work is applied in partnership with text. Members of the Director’s unit are assigned scenes to assist Track 2 and 3 performers. $480/month, $1,680/semester

Tuesdays, 6:30-9:30 at WPHC with Tom Bentley-Fisher and Leah Herman
Saturdays, either 10:30-1:30 or 2:30-5:30 at JBS with Tom Bentley-Fisher, and Rachael Adler periodically

Track 4: For performers, dancers, writers, dramaturgs and directors our Artistic Directors have strong belief in, who wish to train with us, and who are unable to train twice weekly. Classes are rooted in the exploration of the Yat Work with aspects of our Fusion work, bringing Yat Work and the Meisner Technique together. Track 0 meets once weekly, either on Mondays or Thursdays. $240/month, $840/semester

Mondays, 11:00-2:00 at JBS with Tom Bentley-Fisher  or
Thursdays, 6:30-9:30 at JBS with Tom Bentley-Fisher (This class begins July 28th. If the start date has passed and you’d like to join, please email leah@waterfrontconservatory right away.)

Director’s Unit: For directors and performers our Artistic Directors feel will benefit from this training. Our Director’s Unit is led by Artistic Director, Tom Bentley-Fisher, and is active in our Tuesday Notes Sessions with Track 2 and Track 3 performers, and direct in the Discovery + Development program that runs October-January. Director’s Unit also works on our fully staged spring productions, $400/month, $1,400/semester

Tuesdays, 6:30-9:30 at JBS
Mondays or Fridays, 7:00-9:00, TBD at JBS

For artists new to us:  To schedule an interview, please contact our Artistic Directorstom@waterfrontconservatory.com or rachael@waterfrontconservatory.com,

For artists we’ve worked with:  TAKE THE LEAP


 The Fusion of Yat + Meisner

What happens when you take one of the great American acting techniques and one of the great European acting techniques, Meisner and the Yat Work, and put them together, allowing them to support and spring off the other?

You get a fusion of two great processes. A Supermethod. An approach that requires rigor, generosity and a willingness to go beyond what you thought was possible. If you commit to coming in with that rigor and generosity, this work will take you to places you did not know existed in you.

For actors of all levels, from early to professional career, the Meisner-Yat Fusion brings together the deep truth and spontaneity of Meisner and the profound inner transformation and freedom of Yat. The result? Actors who access parts of themselves they didn’t know were there. Expanded range. Theater artists who can sink their teeth into writing, directing or performing diverse roles with radical honesty. It will take you beyond what you thought was possible.

That is exciting.

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THE YAT WORK meisner technique

The Yat Work is a unique methodological approach to acting and character transformation – the work of trail-blazing performer and teacher, Yat Malmgren, who mentored Tom. It begins with physical exercises, swings, that focus on letting go of what you unconsciously rely on, unlocking resistances you are unaware of, and making physical contact with new levels of creative freedom, all ultimately producing the freedom to take greater risks. The body, not the mind, makes key discoveries to free the artist up quickly, reliably, and deeply. Students have the visceral experience of becoming and feeling free in unexpected ways, accessing parts of themselves with which they usually don’t have contact. Through improvisations, text and  written scenarios the work delivers ground-shifting discoveries and a capacity for inner character transformation not taught by American techniques. The Yat work meets each person exactly where they are, right now, regardless of training or experience. This allows for rapid growth and shifts, both personally and artistically, in any student willing to commit and take the risk. In the work, the performer can transform to as to become unrecognizable.

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MEISNER TECHNIQUE the yat work

Meisner Work is a fundamental American acting technique developed by Sanford Meisner from his work with Stanislavsky and the Group Theater. Living moment-to-moment and responding truthfully to a scene partner’s behavior, actors get out of their heads and start working from instinct. Ever truthful, dynamic behavior and authentic emotional responses produce penetrable, deeply honest performers. Meisner training involves a series of rigorous improvisational exercises, monologues and scene work developed by Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse. The technique explores Imagination, with focuses on Facts, Relationship, Points-of-View and the nuances of Relationship, Physical Impediments, Parody, Script Analysis and Research.

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