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A Method of Their Madness: A History of the Actors Studio

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How do professional actors manage to create and embody wildly varied characters? How do their best performances resonate so strongly with audiences? Many of the most revered practitioners of the trade -- Al Pacino, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Shelley Winters, Paul Newman, and dozens more -- credit their greatest theatrical education to one small room on Manhattan's West 44th Street, the home of Lee Strasberg and his Actors Studio. There, in the 1950s and 60s, these legendary performers absorbed the ...
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Overview

How do professional actors manage to create and embody wildly varied characters? How do their best performances resonate so strongly with audiences? Many of the most revered practitioners of the trade -- Al Pacino, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Shelley Winters, Paul Newman, and dozens more -- credit their greatest theatrical education to one small room on Manhattan's West 44th Street, the home of Lee Strasberg and his Actors Studio. There, in the 1950s and 60s, these legendary performers absorbed the Stanislavsky-based 'Method' acting that was Strasberg's trademark, and launched unforgettable careers.

In his classic history of the Studio, A Method to Their Madness, Foster Hirsch studies the early years, remembering Strasberg's controversial exercises, and revealing how the Studio's most successful alumni forever shaped theatrical history. But he also goes behind the scenes, spending months observing its twice-weekly acting sessions, interviewing its longtime members, and piecing together its internal politics. Now featuring a new afterword profiling the Studio's evolution since the turn of the millennium -- from its worldwide television series to its highly prized MFA program -- A Method to Their Madness is an essential account of the most influential acting institution America has ever known.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times
Hirsch endows this history with new life.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306802683
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1986
  • Series: Quality Paperbacks Series
  • Edition description: Da Capo pbk. ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.11 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Table of Contents

Author's Note 9
Part 1 Before the Studio 15
1 Acting with Backs to the Audience 17
2 Building the System 36
3 Stanislavski in America 51
4 On Native Grounds: Triumph 67
5 On Native Grounds: Defeat 96
Part 2 Behind Closed Doors: Inside the Actors Studio 111
6 A Philanthropic Gesture 113
7 Strasberg's Methods 125
8 A Portrait of the Master Teacher 150
9 The Best and the Brightest: Strasberg's Moderators 170
10 A Studio Sampler 181
11 The Language of the Method 203
12 Auditions, Activities, Financing 224
Part 3 The Actors Studio on Stage and Film 245
13 The Hesitation Waltz 247
14 The Actors Studio Theatre 262
15 The Method and the Movies: the Anti-Hero 291
16 The Method and the Movies: the Anti-Heroine 318
17 Private Matters: the Films of Elia Kazan 330
Afterword 341
Notes 346
Bibliography 357
Acknowledgments 361
Index 363
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