“Excerpt from Working Pro, 19 July 2022”
A question or two for all or any of you, regarding whether or not you recognize the name or names of the following folks— ALL WORTHY AND HERALDED AS THE MOST RENOWNED THEATRICAL EDUCATORS OF ALL TIME:
Co-founder of the groundbreaking Group Theatre, director of the Actors Studio, and creator of the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, responsible for the term “Method acting”. Diverging from Stanislavsky, Strasberg introduced psychological truthfulness through affective memory, or using personal recollections and replicating sensations to color a character’s emotions. Disciples include Dustin Hoffman, Jane Fonda, Elia Kazan, and many other die-hards.
A prolific actor herself from the age of 4, Adler disagreed with Strasberg in that she favored the power of imagination over personal emotions. Among the countless students of her renowned studio are Robert De Niro, Elaine Stritch, and most famously, Marlon Brando. Adler also championed strong choices, using a simple principle every actor should keep in mind: “Don’t be boring.”
By emphasizing instinct over affective memory, reacting to a scene partner over inner turmoil, and “the reality of doing,” Meisner shook up the craft more than any other American. If you’re not sure how repetition and “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances” can help your work, look him up.
Elia Kazan, an American director, and author, was noted for his successes on the stage—especially with plays by Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller—as well as for his critically acclaimed films and for his role in developing a revolutionary style of acting that embodied psychological and behavioral truth.
Kazan was one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history and introduced a new generation of unknown young actors to the world, including Marlon Brando, James Dean, Warren Beatty, Carroll Baker, Julie Harris, Andy Griffith, Lee Remick, Rip Torn, Eli Wallach, Eva Marie Saint, Martin Balsam, Fred Gwynne, and Pat Hingle.
Best known for originating Martha in Broadway’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” Hagen co-founded the Herbert Berghof Studio and authored several books. It works for her students Al Pacino, Liza Minnelli, and Whoopi Goldberg!
For all the thousands of boys and girls, those standing in the back of life’s theaters while waiting to go on, while pondering what it will be, and by what date your acclaim to being a fine thespian of sorts, shall be announced by way of celebration… Now lean in, lean forward, and listen to my unadulterated answer:
And now for just a tad few minutes, I’d love for you to look and listen, while paying attention to a friend of mine speaking of his friend and teacher, Uta Hagen. This is “Charles Nelson Riley”.
Change, or not to change, that is your question. Your answer will be what it’s always been; acting is what life demands, not merely change, but most importantly, adaptation to endless change!
A short note from Harvey Kalmenson, before he became da harv:
If you believe in a label, please be sure it’s both your heart and mind in tandem, responsible for your belief and not merely one of nature’s unqualified understudies who, without warrant, takes it upon themselves in order to secure emanant failure—YOURS!
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