Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov

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9780679424420: Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov
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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.

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From the Publisher:

"The book is superb. Stella's words burn off the page like her beauty, her scornful glance, her authority, and the fire in her truth."
-- Irene Worth

"A beautiful treasure for actors and directors. Brilliant and passionate."
-- Kim Stanley

"These inspired lectures are evidence that Stella Adler is hands down the greatest acting teacher America has produced. And they're not just for actors -- she illuminates Chekhov, Ibsen and Strindberg in a way that will challenge you, stimulate you and make you see. Nobody with a serious interest in the theater can afford to be without this book."
-- John Guare

"Stella Adler taught actors to invite into their performances the culture expressed by a role and a play rather than to become technicians. Her book should deepen actors' perceptions of their art and help them to make real for themselves theatre's humanistic heart."
-- Arthur Miller

"Stella's glorious conceit aside, throw out all of the other books on Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov and maybe those on acting as well, because now we have Stella's."
-- Zoe Caldwell

"Jacob Adler said that unless you give the audience something bigger -- better --do not act. Here is a book that will do that for its reader. To see Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov through an actor whose eyes have been opened by Stella Adler is as if to see, hear and feel their genius for the first time. And to hear her teach is to hear teaching, not just acting, being taught. For those who like to keep in shape, there are exercises as well. You'll sweat, but that's the idea."
-- William H. Gass

From the Back Cover:

An original member of the famed Group Theater, Stella Adler was one of the most influential artists to come out of the American theater. As a Stanislavsky disciple and founder of her own highly esteemed acting conservatory, the extravagant actress was also an eminent acting teacher, training her students -- among them Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and Robert DeNiro -- in the art of script interpretation.

The classic lectures collected here, delivered over a period of forty years, bring to life the plays of the three fathers of modern drama: Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, and Anton Chekhov. With passionate conviction and shrewd insight, Adler explains how their plays forever changed the world of dramaturgy while offering enduring insights on society, class, culture, and the role of the actor. She explores the struggles of Ibsen's characters to free themselves from societal convention, the mortal conflicts that trap Strindberg's men and women, and the pain of loss and transition lyrically evoked by Chekhov. A majestic volume, Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov allows us to experience the work of these masters "as if to see, hear and feel their genius for the first time". (William H. Gass)

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