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Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov

Written by Stella Adler
Edited by Barry Paris


Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov
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Category: Performing Arts - Theater - Stagecraft
Imprint: Vintage
Format: Trade Paperback
Pub Date: September 2000
Price: $18.00
Can. Price: $21.00
ISBN: 978-0-679-74698-0 (0-679-74698-6)
Pages: 352
Also available as an eBook.



 
In her long-awaited book, the legendary acting teacher Stella Adler gives us her extraordinary insights into the work of Henrik Ibsen ("The creation of the modern theater took a genius like Ibsen. . .Miller and Odets, Inge and O'Neill, Williams and Shaw, swallowed the whole of him"), August Strindberg ("He understood and predicted the forces that would break in our lives"), and Anton Chekhov ("Chekhov doesn't want a play, he wants what happens in life. In life, people don't usually kill each other. They talk").

Through the plays of these masters, Adler discusses the arts of playwriting and script interpretation ("There are two aspects of the theater. One belongs to the author and the other to the actor. The actor thinks it all belongs to the author. . .The curtain goes up and all he knows are the lines. . .It is not enough. . .Script interpretation is your profession"). She looks into aspects of society and class, and into our cultural past, as well as the evolution of the modern spirit ("The actor learns from Ibsen what is modern in the modern theater. There are no villains, no heroes. Ibsen understands, more than anything, there is more than one truth").

Stella Adler--daughter of Jacob Adler, who was universally acknowledged to be the greatest actor of the Yiddish theater, and herself a disciple of Stanislavsky--examines the role of the actor and brings to life the plays from which all modern theater derives: Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder, An Enemy of the People, and A Doll's House; Strindberg's Miss Julie and The Father; Chekhov's The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, and Three Sisters ("Masha is the sister who is the mystery. You cannot reach her. You cannot reach the artist. There is no logical way. Keep her in a special pocket of feelings that are complex and different").

Adler discusses the ideas behind these plays and explores the world of the playwrights and the history--both familial and cultural--that informed their work. She illumines not only the dramatic essence of each play but its subtext as well, continually asking questions that deepen one's understanding of the work and of the human spirit. Adler's book, brilliantly edited by Barry Paris, puts her famous lectures into print for the first time.

"These inspired lectures are evidence that Stella Adler is hands down the greatest acting teacher America has produced. . . . Nobody with a serious interest in the theater can afford to be without this book." --John Guare

"One regrets never having seen [Adler] perform, but reading her on these writers, especially Chekhov, is the next best thing." --The New York Times



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 
Stella Adler was born in New York City in 1901. She began her life on the stage at the age of five in a production of Broken Hearts that starred her father, Jacob Adler. She later studied at the American Laboratory Theater under Richard Boleslavsky and Maria Ouspenskaya, former members of the famed Moscow Art Theater. In 1934, she met Konstantin Stanislavsky in Paris and studied with him. She was a founding member of the Group Theater and began to give acting classes for the other members of the Group, including Sanford Meisner, Elia Kazan, and Robert Lewis, who went on to become theatrical directors and acting teachers. While continuing her career as an actress, Stella Adler taught classes in the early 1940s at the Dramatic Workshop at the New School for Social Research, and at Yale. In 1949, she established the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting. She died in 1992 at the age of ninety-one.

Barry Paris is the author of four books, among them Louise Brooks and Garbo. He is also a Russian scholar and has translated the plays of Chekhov. He lives in Pittsburgh.





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