The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre is a full-time professional conservatory for actors in New York City. First operational from 1915 to 1927, the school re-opened in 1928 and has been active ever since. It is the birthplace of the Meisner technique of acting, named for American actor and acting teacher Sanford Meisner.
The Neighborhood Playhouse had originally been founded as an off-Broadway theatre by philanthropists Alice Lewisohn and Irene Lewisohn in 1915, but closed in 1927. The following year, it re-opened as The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre with the addition of Rita Wallach Morgenthau. Neighborhood Playhouse joined American Academy of Dramatic Arts and Pasadena Playhouse as the only major professional training schools for the performing arts in the United States.
Sanford Meisner joined the faculty in 1935 from the Group Theatre. Meisner used his study of Russian theatre and acting innovator Konstantin Stanislavski's system to develop his own technique, an alternative to Lee Strasberg's method acting. The faculty also included Louis Horst, Agnes de Mille, and Martha Graham.
In 1939, when actor Gregory Peck enrolled, there were approximately 90 students at the school. Playwright Horton Foote met actor Robert Duvall at Neighborhood Playhouse when Duvall starred in a 1957 production of Foote's play, The Midnight Caller. Foote recommended Duvall to play the part of Boo Radley in the 1962 film, To Kill a Mockingbird.
The New York City Council honored the 90th anniversary of Neighborhood Playhouse with a proclamation.
The school offers a two-year certificate program, with admission to the second year dependent upon unanimous approval of the faculty. There is also a six-week summer intensive program.
The Neighborhood Playhouse also offers Playhouse Juniors, a Saturday training program for children in grades 1-12. Children attend a fixed curriculum of singing, acting, and dancing classes in a non-competitive environment.