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Now Interviewing for

Welcome to Empowerhouse Acting Studio, the Bay Area’s artistic home for actors of all levels.  Our graduates are working actors in film, TV, commercials, and theatre in LA, NY, SF and beyond.

Meisner Technique

Fall 2024 Session 1 - In Person

Empowerhouse Studio offers the complete professional Meisner Technique training program, which consists of 6 sessions. Each session deepens your skills and craft by building on the work done in the previous session and introducing new exercises. Sanford Meisner created his technique very intentionally, so that each exercise deepens and enhances the previous teachings, building the actor up step-by-step into a world-class, moment-to-moment, highly sensitive, highly skilled, confident, free and authentic instrument, consistently able to "behave truthfully under imaginary circumstances," as Sanford Meisner would say.


We are now interviewing for our Meisner Technique 1st Session class, where students will learn the foundational exercises of the Meisner Technique, including the Repetition Exercise, Emotional Preparation and the "reality of doing." Students will work on one scene during this class, applying all of the principles learned in this foundational session. *Students who would like to continue their training will advance to the 2nd Session upon instructor approval.

*Actors with previous training in the Meisner Technique are welcome to apply. Placement will be determined during the interview and customized classes may be available.

  • The Fall 2024 class will begin on Monday, September 23rd and end on Monday, November 18th.  Classes will meet every Monday and Thursday from 3:00pm to 6:00pm EXCEPT Monday, October 14th, Thursday, October 31st and Monday, November 11th.

Meisner Technique

Sessions 2 - 6

​We welcome actors transferring from other Meisner Technique programs or actors who have previously trained in the Meisner Technique. Contact us for an interview to assess the appropriate class placement. 



Embodiment & Voice:

Priming Your Instrument Through Embodiment and Vocal Release & The Inhabiting Technique

Do you know how to breathe for performance?  Are you able to gauge appropriate vocal levels for the performance medium?  Do you sometimes feel awkward in your body and resort to “mono gestures” in scene work?  Most people struggle with these things until they train in voice and movement techniques.  Prime your instrument with Voice & Performance Coach SJ Harrison.  Imagine feeling confident in your ability to sustain your vocal power throughout a performance.  Begin to explore your full expressive range both vocally and physically, in this process-oriented technique class.  As you start to more fully inhabit your physical experience, you will begin to observe what’s blocked and held back in your voice and your body….and learn what to do about it, through the medium of Linklater and Laban based Techniques.

Yes, And…! - Intro to Improv (Level 1)

This Intro to Improv class focuses on teaching the groundwork for becoming a great improvisationalist. Not only does this help with your acting and auditions, but it is also a great tool for business, other art mediums, and even as a way to better communicate with others in any aspect of your life. This class will use the same “Yes, And” rule as our other improv classes with an emphasis on movement, space work, and many, many improv games. There will be lots of movement in this class and lots of goofy behavior and laughter. You will also learn how to create a scene with a partner with only a suggestion or two, while also being introduced to a new tool to help you develop more robust scenes and characters in all your other projects.


You will learn the basics of Stage Performance and Presentation Theater, including stage directions and how to perform for a live audience, how to react to audiences and interact with them. You will gain new tools for creating and developing characters. Intro to Improv also teaches the importance of accepting and reacting, not just in our scenes but in life. This class will also lay out the six fundamentals you will need to advance to the Level 2 Improv Class “Yes, and…MORE!”


So be warned, this is not for the faint of heart!  It’s for brave, adventurous actors (and non-actors!) who want to break free of their comfort zone, which is where the real amazing work begins.  And the best part is that you’ll have a blast doing it in the most safe and supportive space.  No previous training or experience is required.



Yes, and…MORE!” - Improv Level 2

Are you ready to up your Improv game? 


Empowerhouse Acting Studio presents our Level 2 Improv class, “Yes, and…More!” In this higher level Improv class, students will learn more advanced theater games and practice the six fundamentals of Improv theater, while focusing on “gifts”- tools we use to make our scene partners look good and give them something fun to play. This class will have a strong focus on reacting to scene partners and new information, while also adding new information to scenes and increasing the “stakes.” 


This class is geared towards people with previous Improv training and/or experience who are interested in progressing to onstage or live improv and looking to further develop their “reaction mind.” In addition, people with previous Improv training and/or experience looking to build their confidence for auditions in theater and film will benefit from taking this class. This class will also advance the actor’s ability to commit to doing and being present. There is a comfort to having a script, studying it, getting direction and rehearsing the material, but to really delve into a space where actors can be flexible with their characters and flesh them out can require more. Improv gives actors the ability to look at things from a neutral space with no expectations or preconceptions. This class will help actors find that all-important space between approval and disapproval, that magical space of fully being in the moment and trusting in one’s scene partners and in oneself. 

Acting Classes for Kids and Teens

Acting classes are a wonderful way to help develop your child’s creativity, confidence, collaboration skills and sense of community. With the decline in school arts programs and elimination of after school programs due to Covid, online professional acting training is a great way to keep your children engaged in creative activities that teach them a multitude of skills that go beyond acting.

Introduction to Improv and Performance Theater for Youth Actors 

Before TV and TikTok, theater was the venue for acting.  Actors used their minds, bodies and voices to create unique moments and amazing scenes onstage.  Mostly this revolved around the ensemble, a creative collective of players who collaborated to make an amazing show. 


In our Introduction to Improv and Performance Theater for Youth Actors class, we introduce the youth actor to this art form. 


This class will include many theater games used to teach actors how to create a scene using nothing but a few props, a hat or wig, some silly characters and a whole lot of imagination. 


This is a wonderful class that offers useful tools for aspiring young actors.  In addition, this class is a wonderful extracurricular activity for any youth, regardless of acting aspirations.  This class will pull the student away from the chaos of the world and immerse them in a safe environment where they can learn what it means to listen to their inner voice.  We use a peer supported formula that emphasizes the importance of the group over the individual, while also highlighting the importance of using each person's uniqueness to bring new aspects and ideas to the performance.



You and your child can work privately with a 20+ year veteran of the industry to learn and practice valuable skills needed to have a professional acting career. One-on-one coaching has several benefits:


  • Your child is guaranteed 100% individualized attention in a safe and supportive environment.

  • Empowerhouse Acting Studio Founder Melissa Thompson Esaia will work individually with you and your child to assess his or her needs, strengths and growth opportunities and customize a plan to help develop his or her acting and audition skills, as well as a plan for entering and working in the industry.

  • Your child will receive private coaching in acting, auditioning, cold reading, monologues, commercial auditions, script analysis, listening skills, communication skills, interviewing with agents, managers and casting directors, and navigating the entertainment industry in a healthy, empowered way


Private coaching sessions are held via Zoom and accommodate your schedule.  All you need is a computer with the Zoom application and a quiet place for your child to work.


Private coaching fees are $110 per hour.  Fees are discounted when you purchase a private coaching package.

Payment Options: We accept cash, check, credit card, and Venmo.

Refund policy 

We interview all potential students and request that interviewees examine their ability to make the commitment required before enrolling in any class. Also training to be an actor is an exciting, rewarding, enriching growth experience. It can also be challenging and humbling and like with any growth journey you may experience growing pains that feel a bit scary or uncomfortable. But so often the biggest breakthroughs and growth come when you feel that fear and discomfort and instead of turning away from it, you explore it and move through it. Sometimes the only thing that keeps someone from quitting in a time of fear and discomfort is the tuition they paid. For this reason, we do not offer refunds on class deposits or tuition.

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