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Stella Adler & Lee Strasberg

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Amanda Young

on 26 March 2014

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Transcript of Stella Adler & Lee Strasberg

Stella Adler & Lee Strasberg
Early Days of Stella
Stella Adler was born on February 10th, 1901 to a family of actors.
She began acting at the age of 4 for her parents' "Independent Yiddish Art Company."
Ready for Her Close-Up!
Adler moved to Hollywood and began her career as a movie star!
Although her movie career was short lived, her films include:
Love on Toast, 1937
Shadow of the Thin Man, 1941
My Girl Tisa, 1948
She Lives for the Applause
More on the Group Theatre
• Strasberg was the head of actor training for the company’s duration.
• Poetic realism
• First production: House of Connelly
o Critics enjoyed the sense of ensemble attained by the Group Theatre.
• Where Strasberg began to cultivate and refine “the Method”
• Had a falling out with Stella Adler about Stanislavski’s principles, causing her to leave the Group Theatre

The Seven Year Itch
She's Comin' Up!
Adler never stopped acting, making her London debut at the age of 18 in
Elisa Ben Avia.
She made her Broadway debut in 1922 as the Butterfly in
The World We Live In
She had her first run-in with Konstantin Stanislavski in 1923.
Press on, Young Stella!
Adler was first introduced to Stanislavski's theories when she joined the American Lab Theatre.
In 1931, she joined The Group Theatre, which was founded by Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford, and Lee Strasberg.
A Whole New World!
In 1934, Stella went to study with Stanislavski.
It was through a 5-week study that Adler's complete view on acting changed.
Stanislavski had divulged that he had revised his acting theory since it was first taught.
Stella Adler in "Awake and Sing" at The Group Theatre
Stan's the Man
Stanislovski had come to the conclusion that actors should create from imagination, not memory.
The new knowledge she gained from her trip to Paris and study with Stanislovski caused her to butt heads with Lee Strasberg.
She would eventually leave The Group Theatre.
A Wise Woman Said...
"Drawing on the emotions I experienced - for example, when my mother died - to create a role, is sick and schizophrenic. If that is acting, I don't want to do it."
-Stella Adler
Lee Strasberg (Israel Strasberg)
• Born November 17th, 1901 in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (Ukraine)
• Father finished moving his family to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1909.
• Was the bookkeeper of a wig shop when he decided to join the Progressive Drama Club, a Yiddish theatre troupe.
• Then joined the Students of Art and Drama at the Chrystie Street Settlement House until 1927.

The Turning Point
• Saw the Moscow Art Theatre perform in 1923 (headed by Stanislavski)
• Richard Schickel said:
Never before had Strasberg encountered actors that fully surrendered their egos onstage.
Every actor on stage, whether they were a lead or a member of the ensemble, had the same level of commitment and intensity.
Inner life.

The Group Theatre
• Founded in 1931 by Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford, and Strasberg.
• “… first time a U.S. director could enjoy a continuity of creative purpose among the anarchy and waste of the long-run system.” –Encyclopedia Britannica
• Allowed for the permanent repertory theatre companies in the United States that we know today.

Lights! Camera! Action!
The Group Theatre, continued
• “The Group Theatre... [w]ith its self-defined mission to reconnect theater to the world of ideas and actions, staged plays that confronted social and moral issues... [w]ith members Harold Clurman, Lee Strasberg, Stella and Luther Adler, Clifford Odets, Elia Kazan and an ill-assorted band of idealistic actors living hand to mouth are seen welded in a collective of creativity that was also a tangle of jealousies, love affairs and explosive feuds.” –Publishers Weekly
There's No Place Like Home!
After her stint with Hollywood, Adler returned to New York and began working as an acting teacher.
She worked briefly at Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop and The New School for Social Research.
In 1949, she founded the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.
Strasberg makes theatre a full-time career
• Auditions and gets accepted to the American Laboratory Theatre.
Led by Richard Boleslavsky and Maria Ouspenskaya, former student of Stanislavski and Vakhtangov.
Learned how principles of psychology affect the actor.
Began testing the principles he learned in 1924 by directing his first professional production with the Theatre Guild.

Family Feud!
The Method, as explained by Lee Strasberg:
• “The Method represents a development of his [Stanislavski’s] procedures based not only on his writings but also on his actual achievement in his major productions. It includes the work of Vakhtangov, who demonstrated that Stanislavski’s ideas apply to the… actor in any style…”—Encyclopedia Britannica.
Adler believed that her colleague and very popular teacher, Lee Strasberg, had misinterpreted Stanislavski's teachings.
Adler's method was born out of opposition to "the method" as described by Strasberg.
The Method, continued:
• Summary of the best that has been achieved internationally on the professional stage.
• Set of procedures (such as relaxation, sense memory, and improvisation) to help find the road to creativity.

More about the Method
• “…training the actor is the problem of dealing with [the actor’s] own instrument… the actor must be able to make this instrument do what his mind conceives.”
• Believed that there was a way to control the way actor’s feel on stage.
Actors found a way to do so unconsciously for years.
Psychology allowed Strasberg to show actors how to control their emotions on stage: by training the memory.

The Actors Studio
The Adler Way
• After the Group Theatre closed in 1941, Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford, and Robert Lewis created the Actors Studio.
• Strasberg came on board in the late 40’s as Artistic Director.
In charge of East and West coast branches from 1951 to his death.
• Actors were required to audition in a preliminary round, and if passed on, audition for Strasberg himself.

Students of the Actors Studio
• James Dean
• Marilyn Monroe (easily his favorite)
• Paul Newman
• Al Pacino
• Dustin Hoffman
• Sidney Portier
• Jack Nicholson

Stella Adler believed that because every character, place, and idea is imaginary in a production, all action should come from an actor's imagination.
Adler felt this could be done because all human beings contain a "collective consciousness" that allows us to imagine things we've never even thought of.
Size Matters
Adler believed that characters are written by playwrights to have great size.
Her philosophy was that an actor cannot take a large role and shrink it down to his size, he must make himself larger to fit the role.
The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute
• Founded in 1969 for any one interested in learning Strasberg’s technique.
• A selection process exists, but not as competitive as the Actors Studio.

• Died in 1982 of a heart attack.
• Most notable role:
Hyman Roth in
The Godfather II
(receives an Academy Award Nomination) alongside his student, Al Pacino.

Adler on Hamlet
"Nowadays a lot of what passes for acting is nothing more than finding yourself in some character... Of course, you have to bring your own experience to bear on the characters you play, but you have to realize right from the outset that Hamlet was not 'a guy like you.'"
--Stella Adler
Strasberg on Hamlet
• Hamlet's words should not be regarded as "holy."
• Although Shakespeare is a master playwright, he still wrote characters that were ordinary people, just like you.
• One cannot just do the iambic pentameter to understand the emotion behind the text.

"To me, Stella Adler is much more than a teacher of acting... It is troubling to me that because she has not lent herself to vulgar exploitations, as some other well-known so-called "methods" of acting have done, her contributions to the theatrical culture have remained largely unknown, unrecognized, and unappreciated."
- Marlon Brando
What would this prezi be without a Streetcar joke?
Constantin Stanislovski
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